Looking after elderly is a tricky issue. Those who have elderly people at home do get impatient at times with the antics of the older generation. It is only normal, because the elderly do get to be a handful at times.
There are many who complain about the problems created by the elderly folks at home. Especially if the elderly are the in-laws. I receive lots of complaints from daughters-in-law about the adjustments problems they have with their mothers-in-law. Most of them are common and one or two are really interesting.
I too have a mother-in-law staying with me. She is a very old lady, and she has her own rules about how things have to be done. This does get on my nerves sometimes, I confess, but my husband and me, we have learnt to take it in our stride. She has this annoying habit of constantly wanting us to adjust the speed of the fan. If it is too low, she wants it increased, if it is fast, even slightly, she wants it reduced. The whole day this antic goes on.
We had visitors the other day, and my mother-in-law chose to ask for the fan adjustment. I went in to oblige her and the lady who had visited, wanted to know what was happening. I let her know this particular quirk of my mother-in-law. This lady very seriously told me it was just attention getting gimmick. She was imparting a piece of important knowledge. She felt I was being impatient with my mother-in-law and I should learn to be more patient.
This lady had her own problems with her in-laws, and had let off steam a couple of times to me. Now these elderly people in her home are no more, and so this lady has turned knowledgeable. Maybe hindsight has improved her knowledge about how to handle elderly people. And she felt duty bound to impart it to me.
There are many such well wishers. They always advise me to be patient and tolerate my in-law. But when it comes to handling theirs, they have their own complaints and justifications for their not so accommodating behavior.
One lady asked me how I would handle my in-law if she were my mother. I would definitely not get impatient and I would be more tolerant. So she asked me to consider my mother-in-law as my own mother, and to take care of her. She also told me how it is a noble task taking care of elderly people. Also I would be helping my husband and easing his stress level. All noble thoughts and advice. But she erred on her home front!
Her noble thoughts and advice were for me and till her in-laws were not visiting her. Once her in-laws started to visit her, once she found it was difficult to adjust to their mode of living and habits, she started to complain about them to me! When she felt I needed advice to handle my in-law, how did she feel it right to complain to me about her in-laws? There seemed to be a flaw in her thinking.
Anyway, I guess it is universal. This habit of advising others on all matters. Because advice is meant for others only. I have found very few people who actually live their advice.
Each person’s level of stress is different. Each person’s threshold of patience is different. And each home is different. So what method or advice is applicable for one person or household, will not be applicable for other. Individuals differ and so their individuality differs. If my mother-in-law annoys me with the antic of increasing/decreasing the speed of the fan, another’s in-law may have another annoying habit. How can one advice cover both these antics?
My mother-in-law still has her mental faculties about her. And her take on certain issues is hilarious. She is a source of amusement for us, and my colleagues are telling me I will miss all this amusement when she leaves. Which I feel is right.
It is not as if she has only annoying habits. She has lots of stories, only problem is she repeats them and it does not matter if anyone is listening or not. So much so, we are not sure if she is talking to us or only reminiscing.
I do tell my friends and colleagues about her annoying habits, though it is not done with the intention of belittling her in any way. It is just sharing of what different things have happened at home. Also it is a case of letting off some steam sometimes. And one of my colleagues puts a different twist to it and we end up laughing. So her antics are actually a collective stress buster for us. And I do not tell my colleagues only about something that has irritated me, but also some hilarious incident that has occurred. Some of her antics are funny. And some of her perspectives are so old fashioned.
I too know elders live in a world of their own. They are set in their ways, they find it difficult to change and adjust to the demands of the present world. They are slow, they need prompting, and a helping hand sometimes. And they are like children, they can sulk and also seek attention.
But when someone decides to advise me on how to handle my in-law, and when I know this very same person has not been happy with her in-law around, then I do get miffed a bit. Besides everyone has adjustment problems, whether it is in-laws or own family. It gets a little too irritating when in-laws are involved. But that does not mean we should disrespect them or ignore them.
When I know I get irritated with my mother-in-law at times, (I too am human), I do not try to preach on how noble it is to love one’s in-laws. My suggestion would be to try and find a common ground with the in-laws, where it is not too conflicting, and to learn not to rub each other the wrong way. Expect there to be troubles, conflict areas and misunderstandings. It is part and parcel of life. But try to find a via media method to co-exist.
I do not think that is too difficult an advice to follow.