A New Week, A New Challenge

LynetteWhiteman
I'll admit it, I’m at a total loss. Not throwing in the towel, but absolutely, do not know what to do.

My mom is 91 and is very content to sit in her comfy chair, watch TV, and read the same books over and over again.  What keeps her feeling safe and secure is me getting home from work, eating dinner with my husband and I and watching Jeopardy.  There is not much I can do to make her happy, but I’ve come to terms with that.

This week brought a new challenge as new weeks being a caregiver often do.  My mom’s ankles became more swollen than usual because of her sedentary lifestyle.  We have taken her to the doctor for this, and there is nothing medically wrong.

She just needs to elevate her legs during the day and walk around a bit more.  Sounds easy – right?  Sorry – wrong – she totally refuses to do anything.

When I try to explain the reasons to decrease her ankle swelling she becomes quite nasty, waves me away and says to leave her alone.  All this explaining and rationalizing is made almost impossible because of her dementia – I get that.

One day she told me, “I’m 91 years old; I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.” Well, that made me stop and think.  She sort of has a valid point.  At 91, am I going to want to be told what to do by my children or do I have the right to have swollen ankles if I want them?

It’s a conundrum for me, because on the one hand, she does have dementia, so doesn’t have the understanding of why she should elevate her ankles and it can lead to other problems. On the other hand, how hard do I push and agitate her?

Before I go further, let me explain, I have tried other approaches.  For example:

-- Is there was a certain time of day that it’s better for her to take a little walk?  Nope – no time of day works.

-- Will she do it for me so I won’t worry about her? Nope – I don’t need to worry

-- Would she like to take a drive or walk to the beach on a nice day – Nope – she likes her chair just fine.

 So – I’m at that point in my caregiving journey that I think we all find ourselves in.  I have read up on all the advice, armed myself with knowledge of her disease, but am still at a total loss for what to do. 

I’m not throwing in the towel, it’s too important.  I’m going to try to live by these words this week: “Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.”

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