I have been caring for my 100 year old dad since he fell and severely shattered his shoulder about 4 years ago. It has been interesting, frustrating and sometimes funny.
There are a number of skills that one develops when working with the elderly. I am going to only mention four today.
1. One needs to talk slower.
Since my dad is very hard of hearing, this skill is important. I have ADHD I generally don't do anything slow, and it has been hard for me to remember to t a l k s l o o o o w. He won't ask me what I said or say that he didn't understand me he will just shake his head or say ok. Just to test this I once said to him, "Dad, the President is here to see you." He answered, "Ok, I'v got to pee."
2. One needs to talk louder.
Well, I never had a problem here. In fact I have always talked too loud. Just ask any member of my family, any friend, any student I have ever had, or several employers. My voice can be heard at the back of any theater or auditorium. I guess I missed my calling. Should have been a stage actor.
3. One needs to be Patient.
Dad does things at a snail's pace (Kind of like Tim Conway did. Watch this through to the end and you will see Conway's famous old man's walk).
Because of dad's slow walk, I have to travel at a snails pace when walking with him. I already shared about my ADHD and I don't do slow. Well, at least, I didn't do slow until I started working with Dad. After almost running over him a few times I disciplined myself through mental imaging. I imagined a newspaper article elaborating about an old man's injuries inflicted by a thoughtless daughter running over him while escorting him down a ramp to the car. It is amazing what picturing something in one's head can do.
4. One needs to NOT over react.
This brings me to today's story.
Last week I was fixing Dad's dinner. I had it all on the table and ready to go when he took his seat. Usually I put Toby out at this time so he won't learn to beg at the table. I picked up Toby's bowl of kibbles and was starting to take the bowl, and Toby, out back. Suddenly, Dad asked me where his drink was.
I set the bowl down on the table and went to get Dad's drink. That is when I heard this loud crunching sound. I looked round to see what Toby was doing (automatically thinking he had gotten into something). Toby was just sitting there staring at me and then looking at Dad (in an accusatory manner). I turned and looked at Dad and he was sitting there with a fist full of Toby's kibbles, munching away.
Calmly I put the glass of juice on the table, and slowly took Dad's hand in mine before he could pop any more kibbles into his mouth. I (again, calmly) said, "Ahhh, Dad, let me have that, it's dog food." He handed what was left in his hand to me (save one) said, "Oh," and popped one last kibble into his mouth.
After I put Toby out I ran (yes ran) to my computer and typed up some notes. I was laughing so hard I could barely type. Is it awful to laugh at a 100 year old man? Nope! My dad is the one who taught me to laugh hard and often.
Well, I have to go now as Toby just brought me a pair of reading glasses minus one ear piece (really).
When I went to look for the other half I found a trail of several tissues (which means that he can now jump up onto my bed to reach my Kleenex box....oh bother), one shoe, a pencil, a sock, and the earpiece to my glasses...all leading from my computer room to his play room. Between Toby and my dad I had better get this PATIENCE skill down well or I could loose what is left of my mind!