Thursday, October 16, 2003

My dad's parents -- my mom's have both passed away -- are both elderly and not in good health. They still live in their home of many years, with some assistance; this has mainly been in the form of my uncle, who lives on the property as well, and the usual non-human accoutrements of old age: pills, walkers, doctor visits, etc. Recently, though, things had deteriorated to the point where our family saw no option but to hire someone to come in regularly and take care of things. We were blessed with a woman, known well by my uncle for many years, who was experienced in this area and was willing to do this work for a reasonable pay rate. This has brought some relief to our family as she has begun taking care of my grandparents in ways they simply are unable to do themselves any more. However, there is some friction between her and my grandmother, who has been the epitome of a housewife there since... I guess since before I was even born. That house is her territory, and she doesn't like some outsider coming in and doing a bunch of things some other way! Part of the need for such a change is that my grandmother, not only not capable of providing the care my mostly-bedridden grandfather needs, nor the care she herself needs, doesn't seem able to comprehend her inabilities.

As I've thought about this, it's occurred to me that perhaps she would have a better sense of these things at this point in time had we been more diligent in giving her feedback along the way. As things got worse, most of us simply chose to back away from the situation, both physically (by not visiting as often as we perhaps should have) and interpersonally (by avoiding the difficult subject of breaking bad news to her). Now it's gotten so bad that outside help is needed, and my grandmother isn't ready for that change. Not having gone through this before, I don't know how usual this is. Perhaps it's got nothing to do with us. I can't help wondering, though, if we might have eased the transition somewhat by being more communicative, and keeping that communication firm and sober. Is she hearing things from a stranger, now, that she should have been hearing from her own family over the recent weeks and months?

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