Seek support for difficult changes

Graham Hookey writes about education, parenting and eldercare

I don’t want to sound too flippant about a serious topic when I say this, but I don’t understand the polygamy issue. I have enough trouble keeping one wife happy without thinking about more than that.

And now that my mother has moved in with my wife and I, there are two queen bees and one worker bee, resulting in a little more heat in the hive.

For the past four months, I had assumed my duties in eldercare for my ailing father in my mom and dad’s home, so I seamlessly slipped into their routines and with my wife not being present. There was no competition on the home turf.

With my father’s passing and the need for my mom to join us, at least for the winter, the combination of mother and wife has resulted in more than 160 years of experience hitting the kitchen routines, the cleaning routines and the commander-in-chief role.

My wife is a saint, really. She had to be to put up with me all these years. But I am my mother’s son, so she has an even bigger challenge – dealing with the force of my mom’s personality.

Although my mom is 87 years old and is prone to the odd nap in the middle of the day, she remains a force to be reckoned with, and while she’s working very hard at being the gracious guest in our home, this is new territory for her and some adjustment time will be needed.

There are three main permutations that come when the elderly need assistance in living accommodations.

The first is in-home assistance, a bit intrusive but still focused primarily on their own routines.

The second is living with family members, a loss of their independence and routines but usually some private space and consideration for such routines.

Finally, there is movement into a care-giving home, where routines are completely those of the institution, and privacy, for the most part, is a thing of the past.

It doesn’t matter how simple we believe such changes to be, or even how much better we believe new arrangements will end up, change is always difficult for those who have well established and comfortable routines.

It is very important that we practice patience, listen to their concerns and gently reinforce why any changes will soon be a new and comfortable routine.

We have all experienced the anxiety that comes with change in our lives. With aging, such anxiety tends to manifest itself more as fear than it does of excitement for something new.

That is even more exaggerated, I think, when the change in living accommodations is accompanied by a change in personal relationships – the loss of a spouse, the introduction of new caregivers into the situation or the change of family dynamics that comes with moving in with relatives.

It’s not a very easy thing to do and while some are able to maintain a positive attitude through it all, others will struggle with fear, anxiety and depression.

For family members new to such changes, I certainly recommend the use of support groups or counseling, which is often available to help understand the challenges and to provide initial help in making adjustments.

Any problems you may be having are likely common and well-experienced by others and sharing tried and true strategies will be a benefit for everyone involved.

Graham Hookey writes about education, parenting and eldercare. Email him at ghookey@yahoo.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Email your cooking questions to Chef Dez at dez@chefdez.com.
ON COOKING: Chef Dez does parsley pesto

Pesto traditionally has fresh basil but parsley is a tasty alternative

A cyclist was struck on Lougheed Highway at 209 Street on Monday afternoon. (Neil Corbett - The News)
Cyclist injured after collision with car on Lougheed Highway

Police, fire and ambulance respond to call in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Community Services’ Better at Home Program is now offering a grocery delivery program for seniors. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows organization now delivering groceries for seniors

Community Services’ Better at Home Program filling in the gaps of Thrifty Foods Sendial program

An acro performance as part of the Greg Moore Youth Centre’s talent show video. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge’s talented youth featured in Youth Week video

BC Youth Week marked by Greg Moore Youth Centre

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

Elias Pettersson and the Vancouver Canucks drew a large crowd to the Abbotsford Centre in 2019. Canucks management hopes the crowds return for the planned AHL team this fall, and early returns are positive. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Canucks: ‘Incredible’ early interest for Abbotsford AHL tickets

Team has had a strong response to both e-mail information and priority ticket lists

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read