If you’re a caregiver to an elderly parent or grandparent, there is a little something you need to know that will make your job more pleasant & improve the patient’s mood.
People need to feel useful. Even if a person isn’t physically able to do much, that person still needs to feel like they are capable of doing things. It can warm even the coldest heart when a person knows they have a purpose.
When collecting firewood for the winter, our neighbor helped out my husband. He is in his late 70’s & has quite a few health problems. Not only did he load his pick up full of wood, he helped my husband unload it. He was obviously very proud of his accomplishment, as he should have been!
When I was helping to care for my narcissistic grandmother in 2000, it was not a pleasant experience. She was a narcissist, & a very mean, cold, manipulative person. One day, she wanted applesauce. I assumed this meant she had a jar on a shelf somewhere, but I was wrong- she wanted homemade. Since I didn’t know how to make it, she taught me. That was one of only a couple of nice days I shared with my grandmother. As we both peeled & cored apples, we talked. She told me stories about her family as she showed me what to do. It was a surprisingly pleasant day. She was enjoying herself as she worked.
Although it’s no one’s job to make another person feel good about themselves, it’s a good idea to let people know how much you appreciate their help or what a good job they did so they feel useful. It truly brightens their day & makes them feel good.
If you’re a caregiver, it is also a good idea to give someone you’re caring for tasks to do that you know they are capable of handling because a person who sits back & does nothing while others do everything can get depressed. She may even feel like she has no reason to live, because she isn’t a contributing member of society anymore. Or, if the person you’re caring for is a narcissist, she will love the fact she has people at her beck & call. My grandmother was that way. She had no problem demanding I come do something for her at any time, no matter what I had going on in my life. One night at 9:30, when I was about ready for bed, she called my mother who had my father call me to tell me I had to get to her home right away. Why? Because when I wrote down her list of what medicine to take when, I scratched out something & she couldn’t read through the scratches. I had to go to her house & explain that I’d made a mistake, that was why I scratched out what I had. Just ignore it & focus on the things I’d written down. *sigh* Obviously it was all about control, but I was unaware of that at the time.
Even a malignant narcissist like my grandmother could be changed (temporarily but it still counts!) by simply making her feel useful. Giving her small things to do that she was physically able to easily do made a difference in her behavior.
Also, if you give a task, do so respectfully! Just because someone is older or frail doesn’t mean they are unworthy of respect. Please & thank you are phrases that go a long way with someone! And, don’t treat that person like a child. That does NOT go over well, & understandably so!
Don’t forget too, to say you could use some help. That helps to make the person feel useful rather than feeling patronized. With the applesauce, I made sure to tell my grandmother I needed some help that day since I had no clue what I was doing. Once she realized she was being useful, her mood drastically improved.
This advice isn’t only for the elderly or sickly, by the way. Everyone needs to feel like they have a purpose!