Friday, July 30, 2010

Patience with a capital 'P'

Do things seem awfully slow these days? They do to me and it's no wonder. Slowing down is a huge part of ageing. What's the worst part about it: getting used to it. Is it a problem: depends on how you handle it.

When Grampa George goes for a walk, whoever walks with him must slow down to a crawl because that's as fast as he can go. It might take some adjustment since many of us are used to rushing from place to place as fast as we can go, often multitasking along the way. How to handle it: walk at his pace and enjoy the scenery. We've seen eagles sliding through the sky on the breath of a mere breeze that we might have missed otherwise. We've watched squirrels chase each other like kids on a playground then suddenly stop, face each other and chatter like celebrities on Twitter before resuming the chase. We've seen dragonflies dance through the humidity hanging over a pond, their cellophane wings sparkling like precious diamonds. It was worth the slower pace to see what we saw. After all, it means Grampa George is out and about, actually walking. And somehow conversation comes easier when you're not going a hundred miles an hour and gasping for breath.

At mealtimes it's normal for everyone to enjoy their food. Most meals take a good ten minutes to inhale, add ten seconds to put down your utensils and another five for Grampa George to slurp up a stray noodle from his placemat. And then there's Nana. A Nana-sized mini-meal takes her about an hour or so to consume. It took some time but I've learned to let the world go by and wait patiently to let her finish at her own pace. If that's all she needs to manage a meal, then sitting nearby in quiet solitude is fine by me. Miraculously, here's Nana taking pleasure in her food, still eating unassisted, and I'm able to watch her do so.

Attitude is a wonderful thing if you take the right one. The slower you count your blessings the more you'll think of how many you actually have.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Truth, the whole truth and nothing but...

Reality can be hard to face, especially if it concerns something we'd rather avoid. As a kid, facing the harsh truth about not being able to have that cookie five minutes before dinner was catastrophic. As a newlywed, facing up to the fact that my cooking didn't taste anything close to the delicious food my husband was used to from him mom, was hard to stomach. It took time, but slowly my cooking improved and so did the reviews. As seniors, new challenges that bring about changes to how 'I always did this', can feel devastating. With time, we face up to what we must and move on.

Grampa George was pretty calm about losing his driver's license when the doctor told him she'd be sending in the paperwork to keep him from driving anymore. In the back of his mind he figured if he only drove locally, close to home, he'd be just fine. After all, he'd been driving for so long, what could possibly happen? When he had to be reminded that no driving means absolutely no driving, at all, anywhere, anytime, he was quite depressed and withdrawn. Can't blame him, really. It's a big thing to give up the privilege to drive, especially when it's not a matter of choice, but forced. He'll have to get used to it, period. There is no way to ensure he can drive safely given his medical condition and so better safe than sorry. After all, he's luckier than most, he has friends and family to get him where he needs to go. Some people have no one.

Nana can't walk around on her own anymore. Her lack of balance and previous falls mean that she could end up falling again. The risk of falling and getting hurt more seriously than before gets worse as time passes. While she thinks it's a bother to call someone to walk her to where she wants to go, I tell her that ending up in an ambulance on the way to hospital is worse. Telling her that we want her around for as long as possible helps briefly, until a new thought enters her mind and she's forgotten what we just discussed.

Facing the truth, especially about our own individual limitations is tough. As one of the faithful 'glass half-full' preachers, I remind myself, and those around me, that giving up something we've taken for granted could be a whole lot worse. I try to dwell on the good things that I still can do rather than mourn the things I'm no longer able to handle. We really are lucky, if we remind ourselves of it, from time to time.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Homeward bound vs. Housebound

We've been staying close to home lately. It's become too difficult to go places since simple things like climbing in and out of the car, using stairs, being more than a few steps from a bathroom, and so on are just too much for Nana. Even with someone walking her, she's too unsteady on her feet to make going out worthwhile. This, and Grampa George's unscheduled dizzy spells, have kept us relatively housebound except for any necessary appointments.
Nana's pretty contented to stick close to home. Grampa George is getting claustrophobic. In order to cope with the boredom he naps. Alot. And it's not fair.
Since Grampa George can't drive anymore, he relies on me or other family to take him out. When I'm not home, someone at home has to take over for me, keeping a close eye on Nana so that she doesn't wander around on her own and risk another fall. It's time for a change.
Grampa George is going home. He's not so sure about the changes and was reluctant to admit that sitting around here waiting for an opportunity to get out and about was not good for him. But there is a better way.
We agreed that he'd have his very own housekeeper/caregiver/ take care of him, his medications, meals and showers daily. She'd also take him to appointments as well as any outings he wanted to go on. Now that we've found someone who introduced herself as his 'personal assistant' he feels like a VIP and is no longer housebound. He's homeward bound.