There's something I wonder about sometimes. The quick is: Is it mean or kindly to let the elderly do things, even difficult things for themselves.
Specifically, it's late right now, and I'm getting my mother to bed. It's our normal bedtime, if not a bit early for her. She's in the bathroom struggling to get out of wet clothes from incontinence and put on clean dry ones.
Of course, I can go in there, order her around, hold the pants, guide her feet into the holes, etc., to help and hurry her along. It would ease her body and certainly quicken things up.
The question is: If you start doing everything for someone, how much do you hasten their inability to do anything for themselves. My intuition is that you certainly hasten that inability. That's the tack I've been taking with caring for my mother. Yet there's a bit that nags at you; it makes you think that it's kinder to ease the ache by helping.
On the gripping hand, however, you can't predict the future, which includes how incapacitated the elderly will become nor how long it will be before they finally die. The reality that seems nasty to ponder is: If I do everything and they become immobile, will they linger immobile for years, or if I don't do everything and they remain somewhat capable, will the remaining years be okay for them, even if easier for me?
Wouldn't it be nice if there were some master teacher to hand you the path to follow.
So mother finally got dressed and made it into the bedroom. After she lay down, she asked me if Joe (her husband) was dead. I replied, "Yes, he's been dead for 7 months now." She paused then asked me if he was a Christian. So take me aback there. First, who am I am to judge who's a Christian. That's a purely personal deal between you and your God. Second, shock that she's lost her whole life - she's known the man for nigh on to 85 years, and was married to him for over 60 years, and she's lost that bit that is a basic principle to her life? Like she'd marry someone who wasn't?
Okay. So I know it makes no sense in what shocks me. As if you can expect someone who's lost the ability to recognize herself in photographs unless they are from 1950 or earlier to remember the guide posts of their lives. It does, though. Each new thing she loses still shocks me. Each time I encounter one of these things, I still stagger at the loss and have to search frantically for a kind way to respond.