The journey that started with “The hidden cost of becoming a sudden carer is more than just emotional”
Is more like a playground
Is more revealing than expected continues.
It’s a lifestyle change.
The days are well and truly gone when mum and I both had outings and occurrences to share when we met up (at least) once a week at her home (well, retirement unit). Her stories were full of fun stories with her friends from outings, winning at community games or the latest happening from the craft group. Mine was all kids and work work work but she loved hearing about it all (and she was a continual lifelong learner – famously saying to me one day to “Google it”).
These days, its all pretty much about her care, with a little interjection about my work and the changes that are happening because in some ways, they affect her. I don’t explain too much as it can overwhelm and tire her. The stories about her care are all things that have happened where she is living, and are all very routine. I hear about it most when they haven’t bought her medication or food on time. Lately it’s about her phone and chair. Neither are really what she wants but it’s all a timing thing in sorting both. Not that you need to hear all this on a blog… let’s just say, the conversation is not always that exciting but I listen to try and ease her mind that the best for her is happening in the best possible timeframe and that some days, even nurse and carer staff are human and have their own off days. I’ve been exposed to a lot of staff in the nurse and caring industry during my journey, and quite frankly, some are good (excellent), some are just plain horrible. But who needs to stress out an already stressed out mum? I steer clear of entering conversations that bring her down and cause negativity.
For the past six months we’ve gone through the long haul process of seeing each other every day (twice a day when she was first incapacitated), to seeing her several times a week (ie more often than not), to now only a few times a week, as she has slowly recovered from her back injury. While this slowing down of us seeing each other has let a few more life occurrences happen between visits that we can chat about, the fact is, we have seen a lot of each other.
More than we are used to.
Nothing wrong with that. I have learnt a great many stories about mum’s early childhood and life that she hadn’t previously talked about much. You could say our conversations have changed to a degree. Not always… but enough to make it noticeable. I have reached the point of asking myself “how can I stimulate our conversation to now keep it interesting?“. I figure if I’m bored, she could be too. She sits around all day, with the television and a few routine activities at the centre, with people who can’t talk all that much (for various reasons).
So. I started to devise a list of things that I could do to generate a more stimulating conversation with her, that maybe you or others can add to in the comments to help me in my journey of staying sane. Here’s hoping.
Things to do, to start a conversation with your own loved one, on frequent visits
- Do the crossword from the paper – read out the questions (mum loved this before, so would probably like it still, it’s just that she can’t write well)
- Read the news items and articles from the paper (out loud)
- Take a quiz style game in – on paper – and call out the questions (keep her thinking)
- Take in printed articles from online (could leave them first up, she reads and then we discuss next time)
- Print photos from Facebook and take in for her to look at (they may generate a conversation, but of nothing else it will give her more “news” of the family).
Now to do it all…