Looking after an elderly person requires a lot more patience, tolerance and acceptance. I found this out when my mum’s maid went back to her hometown yesterday after many years away. She made this trip on an urgent basis.
My mum, who is 90 plus, stays alone with her domestic helper since 2010. For six years, we were lucky to have the maid to look after her. As in all aging, the body deteriorates. Her eyesight is no good, her hearing is going and her knees are weak that require wheel chair to move her around in her home. She cannot cook herself a meal and even getting to toilet and bathroom needs assistance. This means constant care and we did not fully appreciate the amount of care was put in by the maid until my wife and I spent 24 hours with my mum yesterday.
As much as my mum wanted to do things herself to preserve her dignity, she still needed our help to provide the basic care such as meals, a clean and rested body. So we were busy at her meal times, bedtime, toilet breaks (many times to the toilet) and morning shower.
My mum is set in her ways when it comes to routines and the positioning of her personal items. She has this compulsive behaviour. If we did not place her things in the way she wanted them, she would keep reminding us to do so. When we refused to do her biddings, she would be so disturbed. It was frustrating that she cannot do it herself. I realise that in these circumstances, we should just go along and carry out her orders (so long as they do not jeopardise her well-being). This provides a peace of mind for my mum. This is the kind of acceptance I talked about at the start, ie accepting her ways.
As my mum’s hearing deteriorated, it becomes harder to tell her what she needs to know. I have my brothers and sister rostered to take care of her during this period. We knew when we would be in to help her and we had the benefit of the total plan. I could not communicate this to her and she was unduly worried that after I leave her this morning, there would be no one to come by. She needed assurance to remove her fear. (When my second brother appeared at 8 am this morning, it dawned on her that she would not be left alone at home. What a relief it was for her.)
When I see my mum in this state, I see myself growing old and would become dependent on external help. When the time comes when we get old, I wish for understanding, patience, tolerance and acceptance from our caregivers, whether they are our children or others like my mum’s maid or nursing assistants.