keenchick

Stories and thoughts about family and life

Elderly habits

on January 12, 2014

As we age we have, ahem, issues with our bodily functions. Sometimes easier than others, these challenges are even more interesting when they impact your children. As one of the children who is dealing with the needs of some elderly adults, we have learned to try and focus on keeping our sense of humor. Sometimes that doesn’t work so well, but others. . . well, it just gets plain funny sometimes.

Last weekend we receive a phone call, requesting a pair of scissors. With the parents in a nursing home, this becomes concerning. They’re not real hip on the residents having sharp objects in their room, as some of the other residents are mentally unstable. Now, Louis doesn’t usually ask questions when he receives these calls–he just evaluates if it’s a request he can accommodate and then complies. I guess I’m either more curious or more suspicious, but I couldn’t imagine what in the world they might need with a pair of scissors (not to mention the fact that anything they need to cut, the nurse could cut for them). When I present my concerns with the request, he begins to ask more questions.

My mother-in-law has a continence problem, as do many women her age. That’s not surprising, and certainly nothing for her to be ashamed about. The surprising part has been how difficult it is to buy products to assist her with this issue which please her. There is something wrong with everything I buy, I swear! Even when it’s exactly what she told me to buy. So, apparently the last package of pads I bought her were too much, and my father-in-law decided he was going to “cut” them. I can’t even begin to explain how I’m envisioning this in my mind and I’m sure with my mouth agape as my husband is attempting to explain this to me. I am imagining that he’s going to cut a couple of inches off it, and trying to fathom how the measurements of this feat will be accomplished (yeah, I didn’t want to think about it either!). I’m telling Louis that his is a bad idea on so many levels that I can’t even decide how we should combat it.

We go to Wal-Mart later in the afternoon and pick up another package of the pads she requested, careful to purchase the appropriate size and absorbency. As I go on to work, Louis goes by to see them, drops off the things we picked up for them, and explains why they can’t have scissors at the nursing home. Pretty normal afternoon, by all accounts. As Louis and I leave the office heading home, I go to throw my coat in the back seat and see a Wal-Mart bag with pads in it. I accuse Louis of forgetting to give them to his mother, and he clarifies that those are the ones that weren’t “right.” I pick up the bag and realize that they’re exactly the same, only lower absorbency (which ultimately makes them thinner). Louis explains that this was the problem–not the length.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re imagining again that he wanted to cut on these to make them “right.” Again, if you’re like me, you’re trying to imagine what in the world he was planning on cutting. The lesson for this week? Sometimes, when you’re in a nursing home and don’t have anything more productive to do, it’s just about not having enough to do and imagining how you can solve whatever problem presented to you at the moment.

Just this week, they’ve also sent us on the hunt for cough drops that don’t exist, and an adventure with mattress pads for their beds. I think it’s rather like having a toddler that teaches you to “fetch” his toys for him. At least that helps it not seem quite so insane when we go on one of these little missions.

I can’t wait to see what they dream up next. . .

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One response to “Elderly habits

  1. My mother-in-law from the Midwest winters with us in Florida now so I can somewhat empathize. Its kind of like having a 78 year-old teenager around. She leaves the lights on in every room, leaves the refrigerator door ajar and leaves her bedroom door open.

    The bedroom door may not seem like a big deal except the dog goes in there and shuts himself inside. As soon as she hears the door close she asks the dog what he’s doing closing her door. So far, he hasn’t answered her but he paws the door from the inside when he wants out.

    She goes shopping with me and I have to watch carefully because she puts things in the cart when I’m not looking. Most of it is high, fat, sugar and cholesterol that none of us need. Oh yes, she’s diabetic.and LOVES sweets.

    We have trouble with toilet clogging while she’s here. We’ve asked her not put the incontinence materials in the toilet, especially, because we’re on a septic tank. However, I really don’t think that she remembers all of the time. The odd thing is that the daughter that she lives with in the summer has toilet issues too.

    We do our best to be patient. Our thought is that when you get that old then you deserve some patience from those around you. Still sometimes you can chuckle, sometimes you laugh and sometimes you want to SCREAM.

    Great story! Thanks for sharing!

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