Thankful for patient caregivers

Published 1:38 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2017

We have been confined to our little apartments for four days now with at least seven more to go. We are in total lockdown because of a flu and respiratory infection epidemic here.

On day five I started doing exercises alone in my apartment each day and redoing my kitchen. Now, during all that, I began to dream, to mull, to think about old memories from my past.

One kept coming forth and I want to tell you about it because I am so impressed with the loving care the caregivers in this place are giving us during this hard and stressful time.

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When my kids were small and my husband could watch them at night, I took a job caring for a few elderly ladies. One night, I got a call from one of them who lived down the street. She needed a tub bath/soak and then a shampoo. Of course, I would gladly help her.

Off I walked to her house.

She wanted to start immediately so we went into her small bathroom. I drew a full tub of hot water and undressed her. After testing the water with my elbow, I began lowering her into the water.

Yikes girl, you’re scalding me,” she yelled. “Cool it down!”

I realized she was not feeling well. I had run into her moods before and it certainly was not too hot! I do not know how long I fiddled with the water temperature, but finally, she was satisfied and laid her head back against the tub rim.

“Oh, now look! The back of this tub is hard and cold,” she said.

I layered two towels behind her head and that seemed to satisfy her, maybe too much. She scrunched her thin body down so the water was up to her chin in “just right water temperature.” The problem was she was so comfy, she kept falling asleep and, as she did, she began slipping dangerously close to going under. “Sit up, my friend, and we will start your bath,” I murmured. I mean, no use to scare her to death.

She had four different bottles of body wash lined up on the back of the tub and she wanted to try them all. Each bottle she used on a specific body part until her mind was made up. I then bathed her head to toe.

Next was her hair. I thought this would be easier, but once again, there were three bottle of shampoo to choose from. Finally, I fudged a little by telling her that the second bottle made her hair shinier and easier to manage. She bit, so I scrubbed her hair and rinsed it well.

By this time, my back was killing me. I had been on my knees and bending over her for quite a while and was glad to be done with that part.

But lo and behold, I was nowhere near done!

“Jean, I always want it washed twice. Let’s try bottle three,” she said.

“You mean you want to do this again?” I moaned.

She smiled warmly as I redid it all again. Then she said, “Now, for the conditioner. You know how that makes it shine even more.” My back and knees were getting stiff, so I was determined to hurry this thing up. By then, I did not care what her hair looked like.

Grabbing a large glass I saw by the tub, I repeatedly filled it with spigot water to rinse good. I kept telling her to keep her eyes closed but, did she? With every pour, she howled that it was stinging her eyes terribly.

After all this, we were ready to depart the tub. As she stood in front of the mirror, she seemed happy enough so we went into her bedroom where I saw that she had previously laid out on her bed three pretty night gowns. Yep, she wanted to try on each gown before she was satisfied.

At long last, she was ready for her good night hug. I don’t know which one of us was more tired, but as I stumbled home down the street, I was pretty sure it was me.

You know what? I can never forget that night and how much patience and energy it took to care for just one old, ill lady.

I watch all our caregivers here at Brookdale Littleton and just wonder how on this earth they do what they do for us, day in and day out. They each are blessings and I am so very thankful for them. I wish them and caregivers everywhere a very happy new year. The view from the snowy mountains is wondrous.