Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Direct Approach

Caregiving is all about giving care. And it's not just about physically taking care of the needs of another; it includes caring for their emotional welfare as well as their dignity.
I do my personal best to ignore any little faux pas or boo-boo that's not worth talking about. There's no need to point out the mountain of crumbs left under Grampa George's spot at the table that the cats enjoy squabbling over once we're done eating. It's not really that important that Nana's sweater is on inside out. Neither will hurt anyone unless I call unnecessary attention to it.
It's a whole 'nother ball game when something more urgent comes up. I will most certainly let Grampa George know when six feet of his favorite scarf are hanging out the bottom of the car door before we hit the road. And I will help Nana change when she decides to put on her pants before her underwear in the morning.
I wasn't quite sure of how to handle a different sort of issue I'd noticed of late, something I felt was a delicate, rather personal topic that Nana seemed not to notice. It started with a subtle slurring of all her t's when she talked. Soon after her s's sounded like ssshhhh's. It became extremely apparent that she was having trouble with her dentures when her lower teeth would appear randomly, coming out to greet us during conversations, like a cash register drawer opening and closing at will.
For a while I wasn't sure of how to mention this little distraction since it didn't seem to bother her in the slightest. My husband didn't think it was such a big deal. That morning at breakfast he simply said: "Nana, it looks like your teeth are just about to fall out of your mouth."
Clearly this was news to her, since she reached up to check. "No they're not," she insisted, and promptly caught them in the palm of her hand.
Long story short she'll be seeing the denturist asap. And I should have said something weeks ago.

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