Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cross over strategies

During the day, Nonna and I manage reasonably well. During the weekends her son is around to help field the demands, requests and needs of everyone but when the children return from school there are more demands upon my attention without another adult to field.

On the day that two children are at home sick, it becomes immediately apparent that I am in dire need of an alternate fielder. Because there is illness, there are short fuses and fuzziness.

One huge hurdle is Nonna’s inability to hear when other people are speaking. Another huge hurdle is the children’s speech delay. Whilst they struggle to formulate a question, statement or comment, Nonna talks simultaneously. This produces a cacophony of sounds and a great deal of upset all round. Accusations of ‘interrupting’ from the young with accompanying meltdowns, and accusations of disrespect from the "older generation" with accompanying hurt feelings. Nonna can’t hear the screams of "you said dat already, "my turn." The children do not understand deafness fully. The children cannot understand why an adult would be behave in what they recognize to be a rude manner.

I am at a loss as to how to bring the two warring factions back to harmony?

I take temperatures on the hour to save confusion. “What you are do to his ear?”
“It’s a thermometer, to check on his fever?”
“Is he ill?”
“When he is better?”
“Don’t know I’m afraid. We’ll just have to let it run it’s course.”
“A day off school won’t hurt.”
“No, although it’s the second day. Better this week than next week though.”
“Wot happen next week den?”
“Christmas? Already? It’s not cold enough for winter.”
“Next week.”
“Wot dah number today?”
“Tuesday the 16th of December.”

It’s the same exchange we have had every 20 minutes since early in the morning.

“When it is?” ask the sniffly one.
“Remember? Look at the timer dear.”
He jumps unsteadily off the couch to peer at the count down timer to see that there is still another six hours and 20 minutes until electronics time. We have had this same exchange every 15 minutes since early in the morning.

I pause, wipe off the end of the thermometer and reach for the white chart. It only take a few moments to cover the main pertinent points, those most persistent of recurring questions. It is important to keep elderly people engaged, included and stimulated. It’s not a permanent solution but during the times when I am tied up with other commitments, I hope I can gently guide Nonna through her own stressful world. She’s seen me use this many times with the children. With a little imagination it can easily be disguised to appear to be for their benefit, and surreptitiously help me too.

All "tips" and tricks gratefully accepted.


Sandra said...

Maddy -- I have been lax about visiting your blog, and I am so sorry that it appears your partner has died? I am so, so sorry. And this is her mother who is living with you? Sandwiched Genes seems to be a very appropriate name for your blog. You have all my respect. I hope that it works for you to take a little time to blog once in a while, because you are really very good at it, and maybe, I hope, it will give you a little relief from all the tugs on your time and emotions, to be able to tell about it here.

In friendship and respect, Sandra

Anonymous said...

We've employed a chalk board with the painted words, "________ Days til christmas." Every morning J gets the priveledge of showing off his backawards counting and Little J screams, "Mommy he's writing the number!" Then I have to say, "I know, and its the right one so leave him alone."

Sandi McBride said...

I shudder to think that I might one day be the "Grammy can't hear" person in the family. But better than being the "Grammy can't see" one. Congrats on the Post of the Day nomination!