Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Care Partner Wednesday--Humour Can Save the Day
Georgina has can anxiety disorder. She doesn't have dementia, but she perseverates (goes over and over the same issue) on many troubles. It doesn't matter if all was well with this problem yesterday. Today is a new day, and you never know...
I have a long history with Georgina. Sometimes, I need to reassure her, sometimes talk to her a bit more firmly than normal, and sometimes, humour works.
Today, she was going over and over the issue of the corn on her toe, her shoes, which pinch because of the corn on her toe, and her corn plaster. "I'm not sure if it's on or it fell off."
Keep in mind this was the third or forth time we'd had this conversation. "Georgina, do you mean the corn plaster or the toe? Because if it's the toe, we really have a problem." She looked at me blankly for a minute, and then a ghost of a grin spread reluctantly across her face.
Humour worked this time.
In your entire arsenal against caregiver stress, a sense of humour is your best weapon.
I can hear the protests now. "Are you nuts? There's not a thing funny about this situation. My heart is breaking, I'm exhausted and most of the time I have no idea if I'm doing the right thing. How can I laugh?"
In many ways, that's true. But the ability to see the funny side of a situation and to laugh when crying is also an option can be your salvation. You're not laughing at. Sometimes you're laughing with, and sometimes you're just laughing. Laughter can give you the strength to go on.
CLICK TO TWEET
"A good laugh dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing." - Laura Ingalls Wilder
In the stories I am about to share, the names have been changed and the people left us long ago. But the stories still make me smile.
Velma had an incredibly sharp mind until the last year of her life. She worked complicated crossword puzzles every day and had many opinions on politics and current events. She loved the symphony and was every bit a lady. Later in life she had a stroke, and her mind became uncharacteristically confused. She hoarded the garters used for the kind of briefs she wore, and was convinced the staff was stealing them and selling them on the black market. (There's a black market for those kind of things?)
One day, Velma made a slow journey down to my desk. Every step was work, but she soldiered forward, grasping her walker and moving with a slightly tipped gait. I saw her coming and wondered why she had ventured this far. In her present state, a journey like this was a lot of work. I stood from my chair as she arrived, wondering how I could help her. For a few minutes, she stood silent, although she seemed to be concentrating on something behind the desk. Ignoring my questions, she began to shake her head. She pointed to my chair. On it was a back rest which displayed the name of the company--Therapist's Choice.
"The Rapist's Choice." read Velma, shaking her head. She turned to leave, but I heard her mutter to herself, "Makes you wonder what they're doing down here."
A lady from our independent living apartments came to my desk, looking as if she had lost something. I asked her if I could help her.
"I'm looking for Ann Peachman Stewart, but she's on vacation."
"I'm Ann Peachman Stewart."
"Oh, you're Ann Peachman Stewart when she's away?"
No, I'm Ann Peachman Stewart all the time."
Brigit was a delightful blind Irish lady who lived in our dementia unit. She had strong opinions about everything, and wasn't the least bit shy about expressing them. Her blindness was recent, but because it was combined with dementia, she didn't have the heightened senses many other blind people have.
One day, the piano tuner arrived just before lunch. He began to work on the piano in the lounge where Brigit was sitting, waiting for her lunch. As he systematically plinked and plunked his way up the keyboard and down again. I noticed Bridget was becoming agitated, making "Tsk." noises and wiggling in her chair. Just before he was done, she could stand it no longer, and burst out with, "If you canna play the thing, you'd be better to leave it alone!"
Even when grief is fresh, there can be a funny side. I had a newly widowed wife ask me what to take to the funeral home. Did she need underwear? I told her to ask the funeral home. I had no idea.
But it's certainly something to ponder in the middle of the night.
And when I was at the funeral home planning my husband's memorial service, I was asked to look at urns. I burst out laughing, and got a started look from the person helping me. How could I explain to her how funny Bill would have found that? He wasn't an urn kind of guy. I ended up buying boxes at the Dollar store with pictures of shells on them. Much more his style.
As you start your day as a care partner, ask God to show you where the smiles and laughter lie. It will make your journey a little lighter.
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION: Do you have a story or two? Share with us!