Resources for Family Caregivers of Older Adults
Mother DID Know Best Then & May Need Us to Know Best for Her Now

Mother DID Know Best Then & May Need Us to Know Best for Her Now

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As we celebrate Mother’s Day and stop to reflect about how much our mother’s mean to us and how they lovingly cared for us, we come to the realization that they indeed did know best.

Mom loved us unconditionally. She might not always have been happy with us or our behavior but she was the first to applaud us, motivate us and kiss our booboos to make it all better.

As children we got messages from our mothers (and fathers too!) that sounded so overbearing at the time and really were received as annoying. Your answer was probably ‘whatever’ in your head if not out of your mouth! Now that you are an adult possibly with your own children, you have a deeper understanding for all those comments and unsolicited advice your mother gave you along the way.

I know I do. Raising my children I often found myself saying the same things to them that my mother said to me. I would often catch myself in mid-sentence and think I am becoming my mother. Worse yet, now that I am a grandmother, my instincts are even more heightened as I tell my daughter how to do things I did with her that my mother did with me. I have a hard time catching myself and trusting that my advice isn’t needed or even wanted. Ugh!!

What Our Mothers Told Us

My mother was busy with four children. She was always worrying about what we were up to as we were all so different then and still are now. We were always involved in something different. One child might be at scouts, one was out in places unknown, one was at her side and the last was falling off items breaking bones. She had more than her share to keep up with while raising our family. I only had to worry about one child for each hand! Whew!

These are some of the memorable sayings most of our moms were in the habit of uttering throughout our childhood.

  1. Eat your vegetables please!
  2. Go out and play!
  3. Enjoy a good book and sit quietly somewhere.
  4. Listen to your elders and show them respect, they know more than you do.
  5. Don’t run with scissors or play with matches!

Any of these sound familiar?

What You Now Say to Your Mother as Her Caregiver

She cared for you and the others in your family for your entire life and may still be caring for you, if only in her mind — worrying how you are doing and what your are up to. She may even wonder if you are happy, tired or overworked and whether you have enough money. But the tables have turned and it is our turn to be the caregiver. You are evolving into the parent role as caregiver.

  • Now you are the one who is making sure that your mother (or father) is eating right. You may be the one buying the food, cooking the meal and cleaning up the dishes for your mother. You may be the one who has to feed her as she is no longer able to feed herself. You are the one who can’t sleep with worry over the fact that she is not eating enough or drinking enough each day causing poor health.
  • As caregiver, you are now the one trying to get your mother (or father) moving. You know how important physical activity can be to their overall health including brain health and mood. You search for activities that will get them moving such as taking a walk, gardening or even household chores. You are the one urging them to play!
  • You are taking trips to the library or used book store or loading up the e-Reader so that your mother will have plenty of books to read. Reading keeps the brain stimulated and allows an older adult to use their imagination touring new vistas. You are encouraging them to have some quiet time with a cup of tea or coffee in a cozy corner and curl up with a good book just as your mother used to do with you.
  • Showing respect to others is an expectation your parents had for you as you grew up and it is an expectation that you have for your mother. You want her to listen to and follow the advice of her doctor and healthcare team. You want her to take her medications as prescribed. You want her to stop smoking or cut down on alcohol according to the recommendations of leading health professionals. You want her to speak with kindness to the home caregivers that come to help her manage her day to day activities. You hope she will treat you with kindness for all that you do for her now as you did when you were growing up. A gentle tone coupled with respect for everyone not just our elders is something that we want our parents to remember as they age. Aging and disability can lead to grumpiness, but that shouldn’t be imposed on others who are caring.

Concerned for Mom’s Safety Now

You never quite understood as a child why you couldn’t run with scissors or play with matches. You thought nothing could harm you and your actions would not result in danger. Now you realize just how dangerous certain actions can be especially for your senior loved one who may not always think clearly.

  • Turning on the stove and forgetting about it could lead to a fire and you are afraid that they will do this eventually if not today.
  • Keeping clutter on the stairways or floors can lead to a fall which could result in an injury that will forever change their lives. Broken bones are not as easily healed for your senior as they were for you as a child.
  • Driving a vehicle when they are no longer able to do so safely can lead terrible outcomes not only for them but others on the road. You may need to be the bad guy who takes away the keys to their freedom.
  • Inadvertently taking medications incorrectly can lead to serious side effects and serious outcomes. Therefore, it is up to you to monitor their medicine cabinets to be sure they are taking their medications and no expired drugs can harm them.
  • You are doing all you can to inspect their home for any hazards and correct whatever problems might arise. You install innovative tech systems that will keep them safe including home monitoring and other safety interventions to prevent injuries. You may even be removing the scissors and the matches from their reach!

Honoring Mom on Her Day

Mother’s Day is the time we remember the dedication our mother’s had for us children. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed May 9, 1914 the first Mother’s Day. He asked Americans on that day to give a public “thank you” to all mothers.

This year you can celebrate your mother in a variety of ways and may already have plans to do just that. You may remember how you spent time creating the perfect mother’s day card using crayons, glue, ribbon and macaroni to show your love for your mom.

Today you may spend a long time reading through all the cards until you find the one perfect sentiment that expresses your emotions. You may bring flowers, candy or a special gift to her. You may take her out for dinner inviting siblings, friends or other family members.

You may just sit quietly with your hands entwined remembering the times you spent together. Or you may reminisce about your mother if she has passed away and delight in her memory.

However you enjoy your mother, we wish you both a Happy Mother’s Day!

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