Sunday, 26 April 2015

Visitors. #atozchallenge Care for the carers

Two days after her 73rd birthday my Mum took her final breath. She had Alzheimers and Motor neurone disease. For her final 3 months I was her main carer. A privilege I am grateful for and will cherish forever. This years #atozchallenge theme will focus on being a carer / care-giver.


Remember to care for the carers.  

Visitors



Mum always welcomed visitors with some liquid stimulant or courage -espresso coffee or strong liquor in delicate glasses. Children could eat as many sweets and biscuits as they dared. No belly left her house, less than full. 



For a woman that didn't get out of the house much, she had a lot of visitors. 

Her generation thinks nought of visiting and ringing first. The neighbourhood was changing but she lived on the same corner for almost 50 years. The visitors visited morning, after lunch and after dinner. Friends and family, most often around meal times.

Routine means everything and routines change with each stage of life. There were some visitors that visited too often or for too long. Some visitors needed reminding to visit once again.

Try not to hurt their feelings, but there aren't many nice ways to say 'stop visiting', or 'you should visit before it's too late." Some take it better than others. 

Mum would never have imagined refusing a guest, but at times she said 'good' when I said they weren't coming because I told them she needed to rest.  

Sometimes it was best when she didn't know visitors were on their way. 'Do we need to go shopping and is the house clean enough?' I'd tidy the mess and show her she had everything well prepared. 

The cupboards were overstocked with sweet and savoury treats. Only a few out of date... but 'still good enough to eat.'

She enjoyed being a host, which is why I bargained and bribed her with ringing visitors to cancel their plans. Especially on the days I had exhausted all methods to get her to eat a few more mouthfuls on her diminishing plate. 


As irony would have it she often ate best with a house full of guests.

I hindsight perhaps I could have pinned a note on the door:

 - Please keep visits short.

 - Please watch out for hints from the carer that it is time to leave.  Excessive yawning or words along the lines of "it's getting late, it's almost lunch/dinner time, she's very tired, it was really nice of you to visit" are obvious signs.

 - It's not necessary to always bring a gift.

 - Don't talk about how much stronger, healthier and older you -- or your parents -- are, when a person dying of a disease they have no understanding of or control over, is sitting in front of you.

 - Please ask yourself who is going to look after this gorgeous plant...? Don't bring expensive plants that need a lot of attention to dying people who can no longer venture into their own neglected garden. It will disturb a gardening enthusiast to see it withering away, which will make the carer move it out of sight, because she won't have time to look after it either and it will inevitably die, too....And please, please don't ever ask what happened to that plant.  

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I doubt anybody plans to do the wrong thing. So do what you want, just do it with a whole lot of love and stacks of sensitivity.  

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3 comments:

  1. It's good so many loved and respected your mother enough to want to visit. It can be very hard watching long time friends decline and some folks just choose not to deal with it, if they don't absolutely have to.
    Visit me at: Life & Faith in Caneyhead
    I am Ensign B of Tremps' Troops
    with the A to Z Challenge

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  2. How nice that your mother had so many friends. It must have been difficult for you. Yes, people are thoughtless, but their hearts were in the right place.

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  3. Hi Ida - yes the too many visitors can be a pain, as too the gifts .. illogical sometimes ... and I got really grumpy about the plants from my own family - I kept flowers in there - they were manageable .. other things irritated me .. and I struggled to look after them. But too few visitors are also bad .. I think you had it right by the sound of it .. it's never easy .. and people don't seem to think .. cheers Hilary

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