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During a recent visit to a friend on hospice, she was extremely agitated. She kept saying that people were coming in her room, whispering or talking about her but not TO her. She asked that I talk to her like I use to talk to my mom.
Picture a world where everything is happening around you but you are not participating in it. That would be frustrating. You could feel or see things but have no input. It is hard to know how our loved ones feel. You know them best so you can decide whether they would rather be left in silence or not.
I think it becomes a routine when you are a long term caregiver to “Get the job done“. We become so focused on all the things that we have to get done that we tend to do it automatically. Sometimes it almost becomes impersonal, not that we mean it to but caregivers can get overwhelmed.
As Mom was declining, I made it a point to talk to her as if she was able to communicate back. I would discuss what the weather was doing, plans for the day, or anything else I thought might stimulate her. When she became wheelchair bound, I would move her with me around the house when I could. She would come in the kitchen and I would talk to her while making meals. We listened to music. I read books aloud.
We have plenty of grandkids around so I would encourage them to talk to mom too. I think it made them uncomfortable at first but after I explained that she would like to know what is going on, they went along with me. My one granddaughter thought it was totally normal to sit beside great grandma and help her play with her toys.
I would love to know what Mom thought. She might have preferred me to shut up but I will never know. I like to think that after talking with my friend that Mom did want to be included.
I have heard that hearing is one of the last senses to go. So, just talk. It doesn’t have to be earth shaking. Talk about the news, life, family, friends, etc. Just include them.
Perhaps it is too soon to write this as I just lost my friend today but in honor of Pam, start a conversation today. Even if it is one sided!