Friday, April 4, 2014

I Have Seen the Future

     I went to the Medical Lab this morning for a test. While I was waiting a man brought in his very elderly mother. He had thoughtfully picked up a wheel chair at the hospital entrance as these institutions are extremely large. Again, he thoughtfully picked out a  place at the end of a row of chairs to park her wheel chair. This waiting room has a combination of chairs and tables which are the same height and color scheme . The little tables are convenient for people to put their stuff on while they're waiting.

    The little old lady was parked beside one of the tables. Her son had to sit on a chair on the other side of the table. The lady decided that she wanted her son to sit beside her. The son told her that he couldn't sit beside her as there was a table between them. She completely ignored this information. She wouldn't give up and kept bickering. She got up and before the son could react , parked herself on the table. Once she was sitting on the table he couldn't persuade her that it wasn't a chair but a table and she wasn't supposed to sit on the table. He also had some concern for her safety. Finally, he persuaded his mother to get back in the wheel chair and he sat on the table. Now the son was extremely large so he had to be very careful or the table would collapse. 

    By this time everybody in the waiting room was aware of the situation and couldn't help but be amused. The son was someone who dealt with his mother's behavior in a very unruffled  manner. He was very aware of the audience he had. He knew the value of not treating the irrational with the rational. His mother must have been an English teacher as she constantly corrected his grammar. She was still right on with her grammar.

   So I thought for a second...this could be me some day! So you see I saw the future.

    On another level I had to admire the way the son handled the situation. He was in some control of a chaotic situation. This lady was obviously a very bright person and she still had some of her mind but other parts of it were completely missing.

   It reminded me of the last visit I had with my Dad. I went to his nursing home and found him sound asleep  at the breakfast table. He wakened when I talked to him. He was an old farmer. He said that he wanted to stop and have dinner but he couldn't find the barn to put his horses in. I tried to distract him so that he would be in the present moment so I could visit with him. I told him I knew where the barn was and I would put the horses away. Don't worry. This didn't work. I took him on a tour of the nursing home. He still fretted about his horses. 

    Finally I gave up. I stayed until lunch time. 

    I've thought many times about how to deal with the irrational. What would I do today? I would ask him the names of his horses. I would ask him which field he was working in. I would ask him if he was sowing a crop or cultivating the soil? I don't know if this would work, but I would have been on his topic. The little old lady and Dad would not let go of their ideas. It's difficult to understand their persistence in holding on to an idea. Irrationality is hard to deal with.

   

38 comments:

  1. You must have a lot of patience with confused people, which I didn't always had. Both my mother and my mother in law became very old at the same time and needed a lot of help. Those were what we call here "tropic years" to work, having a household and look after the two women with who you couldn't have a normal conversation. I admire people who can cope with it.

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    1. In behind the confusion is some frustration. Don't make it any worse. I was also a teacher for 37 years and patience is necessary there.

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  2. I figured out that it was much easier to go with whatever was flowing through the minds of my parents when their mind was "stuck" on a partifular thing. I found myself listening to the same conversations and repeating the same words for quite a few years, however, every once in a while we always had a "bright" moment when it all connected. This young man responded and acted in a very responsible, noble way to his Mother. I always figured why get upset, just "go with the flow", why try and correct or change a person with a form of dementia, just go with the flow, everybody's happy. This was a very touching story Red. Thankyou

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    1. You are certainly right with go with the flow. Fight against the current and you will find some very frustrated people.

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  3. I behaved exactly as you wanted with my MIL. She missed bits and pieces and always was back in her 20's. She did not know me or her only son, but politely would talk to us. So I just treated her as a friend visiting in our house and she seemed to be able to deal with that.

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    1. Sometimes behind the confusion is a lot of frustration.

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  4. He sounds like a very good son to his mother. It's a bit sad when those we love become hard to deal with, isn't it? You did the best you could with your dad, and I'm sure he appreciated it on some level.

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    1. The guy was in his fifties and was a bit of a goof ball but he knew exactly what to do in the situation.

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  5. Tough to handle when it is your parent

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    1. We end up having to treat our parents like children.

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  6. That sounds a lot like my Dad. He's going on 93 and in a local nursing home. He has a lot of mental confusion, and rambles a lot. He was a farmer/rancher his whole life, and It's hard to watch him slipping away.

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    1. Dad was a very social person and became very quite.

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  7. bless that man - and his mother. and you, for sharing their interaction.

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    1. He deserves a pat on the back. Too many times elderly are left to look after themselves.

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  8. Sometimes they waiver between reality and old memories...sometimes I think they are dreaming when they have been asleep and cannot figure out that it was just a dream:)

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    1. You're right that there is a lot of different things going on.

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  9. He sounds like a very patient and caring man. It's heartwarming to see the elderly properly taken care of by loving people.

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    1. He was a bit of a clown but certainly knew how to care of the situation.

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  10. I deal with this every day at work. I think you answered the way I would have...reassuring that the horses were cared for and that all is well. There is no perfect answer, though, and sometimes you just have to change the subject.

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    1. We also have to realize that these people are still individuals and each one is treated in their own way.

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  11. Irrationality IS hard to deal with, especially since it comes so often from my mother.

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    1. Some elderly are much more aggressive than others.

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  12. I think it's that a thought can be so very persistent in the irrational mind. A thought which is probably based on fear mingled with past experience. My friend's mother is torturing herself with sad thoughts of loss.. loss of her adult children (her son did pass away a few years back) which she interprets as the loss of her other children at times. If her thoughts are matter of fact, my friend will enter her world and keep her happy. If her thoughts are hurting her, my friend will try to gently nudge her out of them. It's a difficult fence to walk. The balance is so precarious. Touching story, Red. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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    1. You're right that there is an ever changing situation and sometimes the change takes place in an instant.

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  13. Your story is both funny and touching. I think having a sense of humor must help.

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    1. Touching is a very good description. At one time this lady must have been very much on the bit.

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  14. I admire the man for handling the situation the way he did. Many times I've seen grown children treat a parent with harsh words rather than understanding.

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    1. It's a tough situation to be in but there's not reason to be nasty.

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  15. It’s a frightening aspect of old age, almost inevitable with extreme old age.

    I think i have read that staying with the person where they happen to be in their mind is a good way to behave; only gradually and gently going into the present, never forcing them, because that would irritate and frighten them into worse confusion.

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    1. I don't think we realize how much confusion we cause the elderly. They don't get the humor anymore.

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  16. What a sweet story of the son and his mother.
    And I think the idea of joining your father at his point of memory is inspired.

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    1. Well, I know what I tried failed miserably so I had to think of something else.

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  17. This is a common issue for people with dementia. You just have to buy into their stories. You cannot argue, as they are living in a whole different world. The illusions and hallucinations are difficult, indeed.

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    1. ...and I might add the hallucinations are difficult for them as well.

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  18. It sounds as though the man handled the situation well. I'm not sure what I'd do in a similar situation. Often, when I see this type of interaction, I will think to myself, this could be me someday. You just never know.

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    1. I was thinking the same as you. That's where I got my title "I have Seen the Future"

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  19. I fear that more than I fear death.

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    1. Dementia is not a pretty picture.

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