Saturday, October 29, 2011
As a caregiver, I see how "THE OTHER HALF" lives. To afford private, in-home care, obviously the clients must be well-off. As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: "The rich are different from you and me." Ernest Hemingway supposedly answered, "Yes, they have more money."
I had been assigned to an elderly woman who was in the early stage of dementia. She needed around-the-clock care as the police had called her son one day when she was found walking on the highway several miles from her home. She no longer drove and misplaced items and had memory loss and lapses. She was able to bathe and dress herself, although not well, as her colors and patterns were sometimes uncoordinated and inappropriate for the season.
A woman came in weekly to clean and do laundry. Once a week friends came to take her out to dinner. Her son stopped by daily to see her; he controlled the estate. I was there to make sure she bathed, ate her meals and did not wander away. She was a very sweet lady although she'd obviously been spoiled all of her life. My time with her was very enjoyable because she regaled me with fascinating stories about prominent people of years ago when she and her husband entertained and socialized with "high muckety-mucks"!
After being with her two weeks I noticed that she had not washed her hair. One day, as she was ready to have her bath, I asked if she were going to wash her hair. She told me that she had not washed her own hair in thirty years as she always went to the beauty shop twice a week. She said that her son didn't think it was important that she go to the beauty shop. She said that she had been on her way to the beauty shop when she "got lost". I told her that I would wash her hair.
WHAT? Never washed her own hair? I looked in the bathroom closet and there was NO shampoo or conditioner. [There was lots of "L'air du Temps" items; not only was she was surprised that I knew about it but also and that I knew how to pronounce it! Oh, do I need mention that she thought everyone outside her "class" was ignorant?] I asked her what kind of shampoo she liked and she said the last time she bought shampoo she thought it was WHITE RAIN. "White Rain? Do they make it any more?", I asked myself. I looked on the internet and yes it was still produced. I went to Dollar General and the White Rain shampoo and conditioner were 99 cents each! I also bought a bottle of hair spray. I brought my hair dryer from home.
She had no rollers or other hair setting materials but I saw that she had a container of bobby pins! I "put her hair up" with bobby pins, dried it and brushed it out. It looked very nice. When her friends came to pick her up for dinner, they complimented her hair!
After that we had a weekly ritual of washing and setting her hair before her dinner date.
Her decline was rapid and after six months of in-home care, her son placed her in a nursing home. I went to see her once and although she no longer remembered my name, she told others there about my washing her hair.