Discretely: Mrs H

Last week I stopped by to visit a long-time client. While she suffers from dementia and has her good and not-so-good days, that morning she taught me something that, since I have been sharing with our employees and caregivers.

Upon entering her well-sunlit house, I saw a seemingly frail, 80 plus year-old lady standing with the help of a walker next to what one day was her dining table and now had on top a handful of jigsaw puzzles at different stages of completion.

Speaking in a higher pitch than usual I asked her how she was doing that day unaware of the patronizing tone and pose I had adopted automatically to address her.

Evidently, I was not the first person to ask her the same thing that morning nor, as she indignantly indicated, would I be that last. In fact, before she even started responding, her stare told me that she had had enough.

With extraordinary, albeit temporary, lucidity my client explained to me that throughout her life she had been a strong, independent woman that knew what she was doing and where she was going at all times. She had built a successful business over many years of hard work and tenacity and had managed her employees with a firm hand. A very firm hand, in fact, as some of our caregivers who had known her in those days would attest. She just didn’t understand why everyone now felt the need to “overprotect her, watch her every move, and control her every action as if she were half a person” as she stated. Our caregiver then took me aside and told me that our client was having one of those days.

As I left the house, I kept thinking about this revealing exchange. I knew that given the mental condition of our client and the recurrence of episodes where precisely our caregivers’ actions prevented potentially hazardous occurrences, Mrs H had a point. Regardless of her state, she was not half a person and should not be seen, much less treated, as one.  And, while no one does this consciously, it is not uncommon to behave in a way that sends the wrong message, even if for all the right reasons.

Caregiving can be tricky. Sometimes clients’ moods and their demand for attention can change abruptly from one minute to the next. The ability to adapt to these changes with minimal disruption to the relationship is key. Also very important is listening with ears, eyes, and heart, as well as communicating with body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice more than only with words. In dealing with our elders, ill or not, we must never forget that one day they were young and lively persons with dreams and ambitions who had their own challenges and accomplishments. They were once like you and me, and we may one day be right where they are today.

The Discretely column by Eduardo Berdegué is published monthly in newspapers throughout the Heart of Texas region.

Schedule a Free In-Home
Consultation

Call today to schedule a free in-home consultation and let one of our experienced healthcare/homecare professionals help you assess your specific needs. The consultation may involve a discussion about your loved one’s physical and mental condition, the safety and comfort of her physical surroundings, family dynamics, special interests, diets, social activities, and other important aspects.

The goal is to determine the type and frequency of care required, the best caregiver profile, and the level of future involvement, if any, of significant others in each particular situation. We are committed to delivering quality care to our clients in a safe and comfortable environment in coordination and constant communication with their family per regulatory guidelines of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission including strict compliance with HIPPA rules on confidentiality. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions.

Please include a general description of the anticipated need for care along with the best way/time to contact you. Please do not include confidential or sensitive information in your message.
Are you or your spouse a Veteran?
This site protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Term of Service apply.
best of home care provider 2018best of home care provider 2019best of home care provider 2020