As caregivers of people who are winding down their lives, we walk the delicate tight rope of making a comment or simply letting matters ride. Often in a split second we must decide which option to take, and usually we make that decision based on whether or not speaking up will solve anything, or make a positive difference of any kind.
Just this past week, I found myself in a situation in which I had to make such a judgement call. It was Friday, and the bather was due to arrive at 11am. As I made the trek from my husband’s and my part of the house using the outside route to the laundry facilities, I encountered our care recipient sitting in her outside chair and looking quite unhappy, while wrapped up in her robe. I bade her good morning, and asked her if she was enjoying the beautiful morning. Quickly and abruptly I learned that she was waiting again for her bath and that she hates waiting. So, perhaps reacting to this grumpiness, and knowing that whether or not she was waiting for her bath she’d likely be sitting in the same spot but dressed, I asked, “Well, why are you waiting?” Then when she explained that she was always waiting for her bath, I suggested that she is welcome to throw on her gardening clothes and work outside since the bather knows where to find her if she is not in the house. Hearing that true statement, she gave me a bit of an unhappy look and replied, “Well yeah, I could”, and then proceeded to remain sitting in the chair, but looking somewhat more cheery.
In this case, I’d taken a bit of a gamble that seemed to jog our care recipient out of her doldrums, and somehow give her permission to stay put, knowing that it was her choice to sit quietly until the bather arrived. However, the risk I took was that the reaction could have been very different, with me having upset her with the realization that she was sitting in her chair because she was not feeling energetic enough to get dressed and work in the garden.
Yours in caregiving,