“When Mama’s Happy…” Can Caregivers Make Their Loved Ones Happy?

May 7, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

You know the old saying, “When Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy.”

 But making sure your mom is happy, feeling loved and appreciated can be a challenge when you’re also her caregiver. Trying to make anyone happy is nearly impossible. We have to want to be happy. Later in life, your mother may become dependent on you–physically and emotionally–and finding ways to help your mom feel loved and appreciated (especially on Mother’s Day) is important.

There were some days when I knew that no matter what I did, I wasn’t going to be able to make my mother happy. I could have been standing over her with a palm branch fanning her while she sipped on orange juice I squeezed with my own hands and box of Godiva chocolates–and she still would have found something to complain about.

One day, (when my mother was living with my family and me), my mom shuffled into my kitchen, slammed her hand down on the counter (half in jest) and announced,

“I’m not happy,” she said.

I didn’t answer her. I wasn’t quite sure what to say and it was hard not to smile. I appreciated her forthrightness, her awareness, but I also didn’t feel like it was my sole responsibility to poof, make her happy. I continued loading the dishwasher and wondering where exactly this conversation was going.

“I said…I AM NOT HAPPY!” She yelled.

I stopped what I was doing and offered my mother a cookie and some Sprite. At that moment, I knew that while I couldn’t stop Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, I could offer her a small gift–a creature comfort.

I realized I was only responsible for my happiness. I could try to make my mother happy–and make isn’t really a good word here–I could offer kindnesses, gifts, my time and my focus–but it was up to her as to whether she would–or could turn that into “happiness.”

That day, I came to the conclusion that perhaps only one of us might be happy. And I chose me. As selfish as that sounds, each of us has to choose our own path.

But I did know a few tricks. I knew what my mother enjoyed–Klondike bars, playing the piano, talking to a friend or relative on the phone, reading the Sunday newspaper, playing in her jewelry box (rearranging it), and eating pretty much anything sweet.

I tried to make sure that every day I offered something she enjoyed. It’s such a simple gesture, and on Mother’s Day it’s one of the simplest things we can offer–to know them, to know what they love, to know what might give them a few minutes of happiness.

Entry filed under: caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: , , , .

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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