Blowing the Top Off!

EllysGdaughter

Blowing the Top Off!

EllysGdaughter
boxingI am going to share this in a constructive way as I know that we all have our "moments", sometimes with disastrous results. I have made mistakes in engaging in conversation with Grandma but thought I wanted to blog a bit about Awesome Hubby's experience that earned him an amended title for the day as just "Hubby".

I was gone for about three hours on Labor Day to go to a movie with some friends. Awesome Hubby has really taken a lot from Elly in the "respect" department and after having company over two days in a row, it was just inevitable timing for a blow up!

Here's some background: We do not have a diagnosis of dementia for Elly from a physician, just a "knowing" that we are dealing with dementia issues as described by others. But there are so many times we just wonder, she's acting "normal". So, AH and I have endured a lot of "control & manipulation" by Elly because that is who she is and we live in her house. We are free to come and go. AH is expected to sit in a certain place at the table regardless that the position makes it impossible for him to hear Elly or conversation around the table. AH is deaf in his left ear, there is no nerve, no chance of hearing and Elly has known this for over 30 years and has been reminded regularly over the past three years. She always tells us The Mistakes we've made (from Miss Manners?) in seating our company. Elly expects us to follow her schedule of when to sit down to eat, especially lunch and dinner during the weekends, since we are still viewed as guests in her house, our projects or agendas are not considered even though we communicate them. She turns off the TV, lights, fans without considering that one of us is still sitting in the room! Most irritating is when she mutes the TV just when the news person is making an important statement and the CC is off! Many times Elly will tell us NOT to do something, like weeding, watering, driving on the freeway, when to make appointments etc... even when it doesn't affect her - she's not traveling! When asking Elly about how she is, it's always fine, or some kind of sarcastic remark that is always on the edge or just downright hurtful. She has alienated her younger siblings who rarely call or not at all anymore. Hubby decided to address Elly's communication issues on this day while I was gone. Even though I had been sharing with Hubby about what I've learned in classes lately, especially what not to bring up with dementia influenced Elly, he disregarded all the cautions I had given. Elly was super upset, cried and held her anger.

Hubby told me what had happened when I got home. He was still very indignant and angry, pretty much still is, a week later! Elly took a couple of days before she told me about the conversation. I had observed that she was upset but being very stoic. It all came out, probably not how it was happened exactly but I could hear the feelings of hurt and concern like my Hubby was not happy here! There was an edge in the tone that Elly was using in this retelling. I recognized that it was similar to way my mother had spoken to me. My mother has removed herself from communication from the family - another story, sad. I have always expected that I would hear this tone from Elly, assuming that my mother had gotten it from her mother, Elly. So, I engaged in constructive questioning with Elly as she retold her story and was able to help her key on the apologizing that went on between her and Hubby. I could understand from Elly that he had tried to make amends but the body language and tone from Hubby were saying something else. Elly said she still wanted us to stay with her and that she did need us to some extent. I felt like my relationship is still good with my Grandma.

So, how to go on from here. Well, Hubby and I agreed that he should not stay alone with Grandma when I go out. He will just go out also, reducing the temptation to engage in an argument. Hubby affirms how I talk with Grandma and says he had been trying to get me to do this in the beginning. For some reason, now, he can't follow his own recommendations. I know the caregiving classes have helped me to formulate healthy communication and reasoning with Elly. At this point, Hubby isn't buying into a dementia diagnosis rather he sees her as controlling and manipulating. LivingRoom Son has better understanding and observes that Elly can't help how she is living, it's just ingrained into her DNA! That is how a person born in 1920 normally behaves as they age. She is very giving to the point of controlling but she really sees it as giving and helping.

I hope this will help others identify issues in their situation as they read this. I know that it will be difficult to live in this situation with Hubby as long as he feels Elly needs to change while the rest of us recognize that we are going to be the ones to change because Elly can't. My prayer focus must be on Hubby so that he can be restored to Awesome. He is still my biggest supporter and has not or is not giving up on me!

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