Senior Moments, Elder Tantrums

Would someone please tell me when it was that our parents suddenly turned into toddlers?  Seriously, one minute they are reasonable adults who can make their own decisions and the next, they're having an outburst because you gently reminded them that they might want to use their cane for the 3rd trip that week to a doctor's appointment. 

"I don't need a cane, I'm not feeble." you hear as they begin to wave it at you with a slightly menacing gleam in their eye.  Let's not forget that they need grab bars, walkers and canes so that they can safely navigate a short corridor and that everyone from physical therapists and physicians have urged them to use their canes.  How dare you remind them that they're not as in control as they wished.

I half expect my father in law to throw himself on the floor and have a full on, toddler type, out of control tantrum.  I know he won't do that because he won't be able to get himself up without asking for my help, so instead he glares at me and snarls.  I have to blink my eyes, and shake off the feeling that I'm suddenly dealing with a toddler.

Taking care of the elderly can be exasperating!  It reminds me of kids who wail and flail because, oh my god, you forgot to cut the crusts off the bread!  it makes you crazy, because they're so unpredictable.  The sands are always shifting and their abilities change daily.  Talk about flip-flopping, one minute they can do the math and add up the bill with the tip and the next, they can't pay their electric bill and are calling you to get their service turned back on.  

One day they can remember to take all their pills at the right times and they can manage independently, thank you very much. And then the next day, you notice that the little pink pill that controls their blood pressure is still in the little box, lonely and isolated from their 12 other little pill friends that were taken that day.

"You missed a pill Dad," you venture carefully.  "Oh no, I've decided not to take that one anymore,"  they announce blithely and then want to know,"Why is my heart pounding so much and do you have something for this headache I just got, maybe it's allergies."  

That's when I start with deep cleansing Yoga breaths. I need a moment before I have a tantrum of my own. Ok, I know that it's difficult to lose your independence and parts of your memory and they're more frustrated with their life than I am.  I get all of that and I'll blog about my in-laws perspective another time. Today I'm just saying that it's not easy caring for the elderly. It's hard and it's ok to vent in an appropriate place like, I don't know, a blog.

Follow me on Twitter@NurseBarbDehn.

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