My mother-in-law’s arthritis and the strength in her shoulders are getting worse. It has become increasingly difficult for her to lift heavier objects (such as pots and pans and other household items). The range of motion in her shoulders is also deteriorating. I became concerned watching her use the microwave oven over her stove top. She had difficulty getting her arms up to the height of the oven to open the door and pulling on the handle caused her obvious pain. The thought of her taking hot water or a hot dinner out of the microwave and having spill had me off to the store to buy a countertop microwave with a door that opened with the push of a button. The point of this story is not about adjusting to my mother-in-laws evolving physical abilities but how she accepts changes in her life. When I installed the microwave I told her that when her arms got better I would take it off the countertop, put it away and she could go back to using the microwave above the stove. She readily accepted this change and has found using the microwave on the countertop much easier. This got me thinking about the other adaptations and changes she has made in her life and how reticent she was to make them. I think she was so open to this change because I said that it was temporary. All the other changes she has made have been permanent. First there was the cane and then the walker. I believe these changes become symbolic for her of aging and becoming less independent. As a result, she resists changes even though she knows they will be helpful to her. A caregiver needs to be tactful, manipulative, determined and positive while helping their charge adapt to change.
– By Hello! Home Care contributing writer Bill Mishico