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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holidays and Guilt - Do they Necessarily Go Together? November 28, 2013

My fellow spouses of residents at the memory care facility ask each other at each holiday "Are you coming here or are you taking your spouse home for the holiday?"

We sometimes pack up the resident, wheelchair, adult bathroom materials, change of clothing, whatever. Get someone to help assist us in the transfer from home to car, to our home and return. We worry when the resident doesn't understand who all these people are, where he or she is, when they will return to their comfort zone.

Even with mobile residents, it is unusual for the resident who has Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia to benefit or appreciate a change of scenery--especially when guests are present and there is a lot of commotion.. Even happy commotion-children open ing presents, for example.

Another difficulty is the food served at home at holiday time. It is usually well spiced and our loved ones are now used to eating more bland food which their sensitive digestive systems can digest more easily. Their diets are geared for their age and conditions- sugar-free and reduced sodium for example. Their food is cooked to a softer consistency that ours, so that it is more easily chewed--or swallowed and digested if it is not chewed well enough. 

My husband, for one , used to love rutabagas, brussel sprouts and creamed onions. He made a wonderful Jello-mold every year and the turkey was always crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside just like the joke he used to tell about the bears and the people-filled igloos.Today at lunchtime he will eat turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, jellied cranberry sauce. He will not recognize any of the foods; he will eat because he will be hungry, not for enjoyment. He may or may not notice that I am there with him, sharing his day before I join my family for dinner.

But we remember his cooking with love for his family, his enjoyment when we relished what he had lovingly prepared. We allow our fond memories to calm us and to help us to see that his comfort is in the quiet routine of his life where he has no anxiety and his needs are well met.

1 comment:

  1. Good to read a couple of your recent posts. They have life through the many details you use to enrich your more general ideas. I read and feel you place me in the situations you elucidate.

    As far as holiday guilt goes, yeah, I experienced some today--once I was asked to get all the Christmas stuff out of the crowded attic and set up the Xmas lights outside. "I just want some peace on the weekend!" But once I confronted myself (brought to this encounter by slight guilt), I realized not only must it be done, but that it was to be a task I enjoyed like others doings.