At what point should a caregiver ‘give up caring’?
When should you abandon a course of action that (you know) will benefit your loved one but they simply don’t want to do? When should your hopes and dreams for their wellness take a back seat to their fear and inflexibility?
These questions (and more) seem to swim around in my brain more often these days.
When I moved here to take care of Miss Cathy one of our first battles concerned the amount of exercise she was (not) doing. I’d already waved the white flag of defeat over her doing any sort of strengthening or toning exercise and decided to focus on walking.
I tried cajoling her, offering to walk with her (which believe me was no easy offer to make considering that she wobbles along at a pace that a turtle could easily overtake).
And I told her that I would help her by maintaining some sort of schedule but after one or two short (I’m talking less than an eighth of a mile short) walks, she simply wouldn’t go outside with any regularity, no matter what sort of ‘schedule’ she’d committed to.
Whenever I reminded her or prodded her to ‘take her walk’ she would let out any number of reasons why she ‘couldn’t’ (not that she wouldn’t, it’s just that there was some impediment in her way); it was (either) too cold, too hot, too late, too rainy or she was just too tired (from what I have no idea when her day consisted of moving between sitting on the living room sofa and laying in bed).
She got more mileage out of here excuses than her walking shoes would ever accrue.
I quickly found out that if I pushed her too far she had no trouble exercising her tongue and telling me to ‘back off and where I could get off’.
Miss Cathy could and would curse me out (not often but with enough regularity to warrant my being very aware of how far to push).
And the language…..Wowsa!….. Miss Cathy can swear like a sailor during a perfect storm without a wit of regret or worry that her ‘sweet little old lady’ card would be taken away if the ‘Old people potty mouth police’ could hear the vulgarities coming out of her mouth.
“Like water off a duck’s back”, I’d mumble to myself, a phrase I learned much to late from Jinxx Monsoon, the recent winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She’d use the phrase like a healing chant (and invisible shield) whenever some insult was hurled her way by one of the vicious queens competing against her.