I have a friend who has been taking care of her in-laws who have multiple health and mental issues, yet still insist on staying in their own home. Their son, has promised to keep them in their home. He made a promise, “my word is my bond” pledge.
Have you ever promised a loved one that you would do everything in your power to follow their wishes, then have angst about actually being able to do that? We of course, want to keep true to our word, but, at what cost? Safety ? Happiness?
And one can view their trials and tribulation by wallowing in sadness or laughing at the circumstance. It helps to relieve the tension by laughing.
So Suzie brought a meal to her inlaws and and realized that Dad needed a shower. A symptom of his dementia was that he no longer felt or realized the need for a shower. Or maybe he remembered as having just taken a shower although the time that past had really been days instead of hours. Suzie explained that a shower was a good and necessary activity. She retrieved some clean clothes for him and took him to the bathroom and turned on the shower. Then she verbally explained that he needed remove his clothes,showed him the soap and and the motions to explain what it meant to shower. She was so intent on respecting his privacy but also wanted to make sure that he took care of his hygiene. Then she showed him his t-shirt and shorts and showed him how to put them on. Then she exited the bathroom and waited, occasionally calling in to him? “How are you doing? ” He replied, very compliantly, “I think I am ok.” So she waited a few more minutes and then heard him mumble a bit. She carefully opened the door and tried so very carefully to check on him and discovered he had put his t-shirt sleeves through his legs and his shorts through his sleeves . She closed the door, startled and returned to help get things on straight. As she shared the story with me, she had experienced a mix of emotions including embarrassment for him because he had been a modest man, a bit of embarrassment for herself because there are some things we never picture ourselves doing for our parents or in laws. And she also had to laugh at the hilarity of the picture of what just happened.
Sometimes we have to find the humor. Not because, we are making fun of things, but because, we are overcoming the discomfort of the things that we have to do. In ordinary circumstances, we are not comfortable. But with dementia, laughter might be the best medicine!