But all of a sudden, for whatever reason, you can't do these things any more, and find yourself in the opposite shoes, unable to be independent, unable to make certain decisions, unable to be so active, you discover the things you used to find so easy now so difficult or confusing but more to the point frustrating. You can't concentrate for the same length of time, You can't cope with the same noise or Buzz that your life used to be filled with, you can't just take yourself away any more for that peaceful drive in the country or down to the coast. You feel your voice and choice has been taken away and that others fill these very important parts of life for you.
Instead, over what seems like a fairly rapid period of time, everyone is running around beside you or around you trying to help or control you, you have been encouraged to let your car go, to move to a more suitable home, to get help with your now smaller house and the shopping as well as your wonderful or new garden where you used to once find solace or could find solace, your purse or wallet is now controlled, you can't use your cards any more or you seem to frustratingly keep forgetting the cards' code, or perhaps your cards or wallet have been accidentally misplaced! You feel as if you are being watched over night and day, being told what to do and if you can't do something then others start to become bitter or angry towards you, leading to further inner frustration or arguments between loved ones. Your nightcap has been hidden or that bottle of wine you used to drink over a couple of days has been removed, in fact all the personal perks you used to spoil yourself with are no more and the regular phrase is 'we are just trying to help you' creeps in more and more.
Or you find you are not being asked to do the things you used to be asked to do, or you feel as if you are being rejected from something you used to do day in day out or perhaps something you once could have done blind folded. Simple things like lighting the fire or setting the fire, shopping, making a trifle or jelly or general housework leaves you feeling sore both mentally and physically but with it being difficult to accept these things you become more frustrated until someone or a member of the family steps in to suggest this or that, but being, quite rightly, stubborn you refuse help or support because your pride and dignity gets in the way. However, after a while and a number of mini fall outs or arguments you eventually give in and accept or partly accept (to keep the peace if nothing else) that offer of extra help. However, this brings its' own problems, the minutes, hours or seconds that you used to be busy become stagnant potentially leaving scars of loneliness, depression, or a general feeling of malaise or anxiety. Your relationship with your loved ones can become tense just as the relationship with younger Members of the family can also become fraught except the 'children and the animals' bring no threat, in fact they can often give you a feeling of elation, a sense of normality, they don't carry the same form of threat or dictatorship, they make you feel normal, your conversation with them can often be so much easier but for others, children can be too noisy and fast in body language leaving your ears ringing and your head thumping. But nine times out of ten an animal, a calm animal or a cute looking calm animal can give you that sense of normality, where no verbal communication is forced or put upon you, just that look, that hang dog look - 'please can I have a biscuit' look wins your heart and gives you total joy, just as the stroke on its' head calms your heart beat immediately.
However still being permanently reminded that your family and friends are doing all this because they love and care for you (which they are of course) but sometimes you just wish, for a moment, you could have your choice or voice back without someone finishing off your sentence for you or deciding what music you want to listen to or what you would like to be doing on a lovely sunny or dry day.
Often denial is so much easier than admittance, after all you haven't been doing what you have been doing for the last x number of years for nothing, and why should you suddenly give up what you have known after all these years or decades.
After imagining how the few examples mentioned above must feel, yes it can leave people feeling suffocated, imprisoned, constantly dictated to by others, isolated, a huge loss of independence, and definitely a loss of your own voice and choice.
Often Members of the family deny this change in you, and want to only see you as you were by giving you constant reminders of the past but you know you find it difficult to locate that time in your memory bank but you just say 'yes dear' for the sake of it. Others just block any health issues out and just let local people or carers cope with you until there is a problem, then all of a sudden the family all re-unite, which can often stir one thought - your future, your perhaps small section of independence that you now have being potentially taken away from you. However by this time sometimes it's your carers or local support who you now find comfort in and when the family do visit you would rather have your local support round and about you, as a known quantity or comforter or only form of reassurance.
So, what is the best way forward, how can we make people feel less suffocated, imprisoned, dictated to by others, isolated and voiceless or choiceless?
Well, one way forward is to compare the above situations as a pair of weighing scales. We could either encourage an equal pair of weighing scales where additional things could gradually and sensitively be put in place of the things that are perhaps becoming more troublesome for example a log splitter on legs suddenly appearing (most are very simple and safe to use and have a safety mechanism) rather than the individual using a log splitter, wedge or axe. Or by realising what the latent talents or skills the individual has and replacing them for things such as 'computer work' and intertwining them the what was known as 'paper work'. Or by quietly making a small keyboard appear near their favourite chair which can be turned on accidentally one day resulting in potentially the individual becoming lost in playing music for hours or minutes on end. It is indeed all about finding that happy balance, and by finding this happy balance can also reduce forms of medication being given to reduce the frustration levels etc. . . .
or an unequal pair of weighing scales
The unequal pair of weighing scales being equivalent to the things we used to be in control of but which have perhaps been taken away from us leaving a massive gap that could end up being balanced, or perhaps we should say negatively balanced by frustration resulting in these negative traits becoming a regular habit and potentially encouraging massive fall outs between families.
So having only covered the surface on this topic we can not stress enough the importance of positive stimulation, being given the feeling of being needed and being a respected member of the human race and family member but above all for all parties to feel and see the benefits of using some forms of positive stimulation - this does not just apply to humans but for all aging or ailing animals, it is as important for them also to have positive stimulation.
We will be continuing this topic anon but in the meantime here are a few photographs of a wonderful gentleman who often feels the above but given the chance to escape with a 'like minded person' (this being the key) he enjoys with many a smile, some free time where no human verbal communication is taking place just 'animal talk' instead of being deafened by the all too often verbal communication that can create suffocation, frustration and an inner feeling of 'uselessness' .
and another trip, albeit in a 4x4 to the very top of a hill is something that this gentleman had not had the chance to do for years but one that he still talks about till this day.
In the meantime if you know of someone who is in a similar situation perhaps we could leave you with a few tips
- When entering in to someone else's space, adjust your frame of mind to the mode that they are in and do not be over talkative
- Adjust to their way for about half an hour or more before gently encouraging them to do something else
- If you are visiting them for the first time, show an interest in say one ornament or photograph in particular and slowly encourage a conversation out of them
- Do not talk about something that they show no interest in
- Encourage them to smile and laugh as much as possible as this may be something that they are starved of in the environment that they have no option but to live in for the remaining 17 hours of the day
- Treat them to a special cake or a few raspberries every so often
- Perhaps read part of their favourite book
- If a Computer is handy pop on to Chief Inspector Google and find some pictures to do with their hobbies.
For family members always remember
- Your elders often lived a full life before they were married
- They also were children once upon a time
- They may also remember things from their childhood better than they can of the happenings of yesterday
- Don't ask them to choose from a Menu that has 101 options on it
- Choose something that is easily digestible for them
- Our elders are full of courage and wisdom, listen, share and remember for you never know when this magical wisdom will come in handy for your future experiences in life.
But above all, enjoy every minute you are able to share with any one because you never ever know when our last chapter of our book of life will come to a sudden close.
With thanks to the many people we have had the privilege of sharing time with and in memory of those who are not with us in body any more.