“What looks like ‘rasslin’ to one is dancin’ to another”
__ Andy Griffith, Season 1, episode 18
“At my age, the best kind of “cultured” is on a carton of buttermilk”
__My dad circa June, 2015
Who can forget the Andy Griffith Show episode where Fred and Jenny Boone got arrested time and time again for disturbing the peace – fighting, throwing things at each other and yelling loud enough for the neighbors to hear? Since nothing else had worked, Sheriff Taylor tried a little experiment – he makes them come in every morning for fifteen minutes to sit and speak politely to one another – which seems to work. The Boones learn to be polite to each other but, unfortunately, start snapping at everyone else. Finally, after offending everyone in town, Andy relents and allows them to resume their relationship realizing that sometimes love take many different forms. In other words, they “enjoyed” the fight. When asked why it was that they were happier when they were fighting, Andy replied, “What looks like ‘rasslin’ to one is dancin’ to another.”
The first two parts of the OUT OF THE OZONE series concerned realizing that we’re not alone when caring for our parents or loved ones as they age: Finding Hope and Support for Caregivers of Aging Parents and how important it is to bless our parents: Remember My Name.
Afterwards, we’ll discuss the caregiver; especially the stressed out caregiver. I can’t wait to introduce the one called, “Breaking Bad”. If you are an extreme person where you overdo everything and then crash, then you’ll understand the title. Until then, let’s talk about one more thing to remember concerning the loved ones we are caring for.
I made up an anachronism to help (speaks to me and helps me to remember):
ADHD (Acceptance, Dignity, Hope, and Determination).
A is for ACCEPTANCE – Acceptance is the first part of the anachronism since caring for someone requires some close quarters. Remember that even though you are the caregiver having authority over things like finances, meals and housekeeping, we have to remember that they didn’t cease to have a personality just because they are older and more frail or delicate. This has been a good lesson for me. It’s very difficult to trade roles in this stage of life. So, just as Andy said that one man’s rasslin’ is another man’s dancin’, so it is that one man or woman’s house is theirs to do with as they want, even if it seems peculiar. What I mean by that is they may not put dishes away the way you do, or unplug things or hang (or not hang) towels a certain way. We have to realize that some housekeeping is his/her personality and way of doing things. Try not to take things personally or feel the need to “control” these types of issues. There are bigger things to conflict over, and these are the things we just have to let go of. Why? Because, I promise you, as they age, there will be things that we will soon have to do because they’re no longer able to do both physically and mentally, and we need to be able to submit to their wishes out of respect to keep them strong. Which leads to…
D is for DIGNITY – I use dignity as a part of the anachronism because I’ve noted, as have others I’ve talked to, that many older people sometimes feel useless and helpless, and a part of our caregiving is to help keep their dignity intact. It’s hard sometimes not to correct them when they repeat themselves, or as is with a friend of mine where her mother is declining with dementia and hides and loses things, but we have to remember that if they have dementia or Alzheimer’s, they quite literally are unable to process things as they used to. A caregiver has to remind themselves that their role is now like a parent and to be patient. Another thing is to not give into temptation to do everything yourself! I stand back and ask my dad to do things for me, or tell me how to do something because the man that used to be able to build anything isn’t gainfully working anymore, and needs to feel that he is still the one giving advice. I’m still learning from him.
H is for HOPE – The bible says in Proverbs 13:12 that, “…hope deferred makes a heart sick”. It’s easy for them to dwell too long on losses such as losing independence for things like driving, working, and taking care of a family when those things are no longer a part of their lives. They can easily fall into depression. It’s important to talk about skills and accomplishments of the past to help them get to a place where they can rest in hope and feel secure in the season of life that they are in.
My dad reminded me of this as he was reminiscing about his former job. He worked in an industry where he met many people, most of them very well to do. He was telling me that they were very high class and “cultured”; some of the nicest people he’d ever met. His job required him to be very social. But those days were past, and at this stage in his life he says, “At my age, the best kind of “cultured” is on a carton of buttermilk.” So I make sure that I provide plenty of cornbread and small talk.
As far as giving him something to look forward to, I always remind him when I’m coming back, recalling from my past experience what it feels like to be lonely and need to have something to look forward to. I also bring my new puppy, so that he and I can talk about our dogs (his animals are very important to him). Building good memories is important whether they remember from day to day or not.
D is for DETERMINATION – I suppose this doesn’t have to be explained since you’ll need a lot of determination to see yourself through the rougher patches. More on these subjects in future articles.
The next OUT OF THE OZONE will be about the caregiver on overload. In fact, I got the idea for “One Man’s Rasslin’” after a trip to the phone store that was overcharging me. Let’s just say several places of business probably have my picture under the counter with a warning sticker on it that says:
“Customer off her meds – watch out!”
At any rate, this is one coping skill I have learned and it has been useful:
We are in control, but can’t control everything. Always try to see things from their side of the fence and offer hope when possible.
Now, if I could just learn to like buttermilk, I might find out what “out in the country culture” is all about!
Update on the Lunch and Learn at Clearview Medical Center
I learned a variety of things concerning dementia and other diseases that fall in the same category. I will expand on the details in later issues where I’ll have more room. But here I can share one online quiz called THE MEMORY SURVEY that you can take to help you determine if you or a friend or relative might be at risk for Alzheimer’s later on:
*DISCLAIMER: It is for educational purposes only and in no way determines a medical diagnosis. In fact, there is a chart that I’ll share next time that helps you understand what the differences are between just plain old aging and the possibility that you or a loved one might need to see a neurologist.
For information on classes concerning eldercare, visit the Clearview Medical Center website and click on classes and programs. It will bring you to several free classes that the Medical Center offers on many health issues including a section on Senior Services.
Hospital website: http://www.clearviewregionalmedicalcenter.com/