A very thoughtful post by Gill about the relationship between caregivers and care recipients inspired this post. Please read it, she writes beautifully about her reaction (as a person with dementia) towards caregivers when they blog about their trials.
It got me thinking about my relationship as a caregiver, albeit part-time, with Mom, who has dementia. To tell the truth, I strive to do the minimum. Which is fine when things are stable and sailing along. Unfortunately, when things deteriorate as they have for the last few months, I wonder if I’ve done too little and feel bad as a consequence. Rest assured, I think I’ve sorted through what was within my control and what wasn’t, and learned a few lessons to be applied in future. So, I don’t feel so guilty.
I don’t know how my mother feels about needing care. We don’t talk about these things. But I do know she says “Thank you” at every opportunity.
Thank you (for my medicine).
Thank you (for taking me out).
Thank you (for helping me dress).
She simply accepts the help and thanks us for it. And I accept her thanks, “You’re welcome.” I used to protest “No need to thank me!” but I’ve stopped.
When I think about it, Mom’s independent streak makes her want to do everything by herself. Yet, although she never says it nor complains, she is aware that she is no longer able to do some things. She is able to graciously accept assistance and relinquish control. My “minimal help” suits her, because I only step in after she has tried and failed.