Saturday, 4 March 2017

Independence and Dignity

My parents no longer live independently, in their own unit.

Last year, when my mam got very sick and had two bouts in hospital, (very shortly after my dad had finished with his extended bout in hospital) we all decided that it was better for them to move into a Residential Care Home.

 I had dreaded putting this to them.

They took it well.   Both were very quick to respond positively.

I think they were relieved in a way.

It is a different story now, as although still facing a variety of chronic health issues, they seem to be the most mobile couple on their wing of the care home.  They go out on their own, too.  It seems that they are caught between wanting / needing assistance in some areas of their health and well being, yet still desiring to retain independence in other instances.

Plus, their strengths and weaknesses differ.

One would think this fact would be advantageous, but often it is not.

I see and hear and experience their frustration (sometimes anger) with each other. After all, they are husband and wife.  They don't think of each other as residents or patients in their own right.  Their expectations of each other are those of married people, living together in their own home.  Unique responsibilities, specific duties.

Yet, they are not independent and are not in their own home.

It is hard for them to grasp.

"I miss my stuff...." my dad laments
"What stuff"
"My tools, mainly"
"But you didn't use your tools in the unit"
"I did a little.  Not much, but I did"

And mam:

"I actually miss cleaning my own home"
"I never thought I would actually miss cooking my own food, either"

My mam had been taken to hospital two days before moving day.  She left via an ambulance, in her pyjamas.  She was discharged into her new home; her shared (but divided) room with my dad.

That must have been tough.

For both of them.  Dad on his own, in a strange place.  Mam still in that surreal state one experiences for a few days after leaving hospital.

We wanted to make their rooms "homely" and "welcoming", but to this day, they aren't that keen, or interested in the subject. They didn't want photos or prints, personal affects or items of comfort.

I will continue to ask them if they are ready to "sort" another box.....

Sometimes, I think that this must be the saddest time in their lives.

And mine - just watching them.

I long for normality.

And yet, I suspect this may just be the new normal.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Dishwashing 101 with Miss Keiralea

Before we began our chores, I told Miss Keiralea that I was looking forward to her coming over and just KNEW she was going to be a great help to me.

She insisted on carrying a kitchen chair over to the sink to stand on.  I rolled up her sleeves.  "If you get wet, don't worry; Mama has another top for you to wear", I assured her.  I rolled a towel into a 'sausage' and placed it on the edge of the sink to soak up any spills and prevent water dripping onto the chair, potentially making it slippery.

I placed a plastic, removable bowl into the larger sink and filled the smaller sink with water for rinsing.

"Mind while we run the hot water into the bowl.  If we put dishes into the bowl the water could splash on you and we don't want that, do we?

"No, Mama"

"Is that too hot for you?"

"A little bit..."

"OK, I'll put some more cold in.  Mama likes to uses the hottest of water as possible to clean the dishes because it makes lots of dishwashing bubbles and it is that hot water and bubbles that help clean all the food mess and oil off the dishes"

"Mama, can I wash this knife?"

"No, Baby.  How's about we wash the glasses first because they are the cleanest of all the dishes.  We can soak all the knives and forks because soaking makes all the food that is stuck to them - soft - and it is easier to wash off".

"To wash the glasses, we put them in the hot, soapy water and use the dishwashing brush or bottle brush to wash inside".

"Why do you use a brush, Mama?"

"Because it is safer than putting your hand inside the glass - with or without a cloth"

"What will happen?"

"Sometimes, some girls and ladies had their hands cut from the sharp glass"

"Did they bleed?"


"Oh noooo.."

"Anyway, after we have washed the glasses and everything else, we rinse them in the other sink with  clean water, then put them upside down on the draining board so that all the water can drain off and then,the tea towels don't get so wet."

After a decent chunk of time, Miss Keiralea decided it was time to stop. "Can we have some tea now,  Mama?"

A girl after my own heart.....