Library Story

A Library Story: Respect for Elders

Respect for Elders, a class at the library led by Rebecca Nyberg

Audio Recording of Rebecca’s Story

Rebecca’s Lesson Plan

I am an only child raised with a healthy respect and awe for my elders.

My story begins about ten years ago when my husband’s parents needed help.

First staying with them when they were hospitalized, rides to appointments.

Calling the ambulance when Art fell, walking through mourning with Eva. Now Eva living with us, failing due to diet/poor decisions. Recovered, but dementia so lost independence : car, apartment, control over personal decisions, medications.  Hard decisions show love.

Care: I help her recover her health (exercise, nutrition/vitamins, hydration) and reintroduce her life: music (key for dementia), cross-stich, Bible reading and Church.

 Leaving the house can be stressful, incontinence, or healthful stimulation. In home care can be stressful because personal things are invaded by a professional stranger. You can learn to bathe, supervise Rx, evaluate health, provide physical and mental stimulation

Purpose: I am seeking with her, trying to find her purpose, meaningful life, interesting activities (what they have always done), and be her friend. I give her my time listen, visit.

I earn the right to be heard. I make few demands without time spent before hand.

 Comfort security, hold hand in strange place & stairs, eyes adjust sun-dark building.

 Compassion: I try to answer her questions and anticipate unasked questions

 I sometimes use “therapeutic fibbing”  Credit Shar Elhard nurse, memory care, Edgewood. Make them feel needed, remember we do because we love.

Interview was basis for this talk, thanks Shar. After interview I reflected on her wisdom and listened to Eva talk, understanding dawned.

 Respect: I give her respect while I check her independence.

 Not a child, stupid, dementia is memory, and hearing loss is function.

Loss of private decisions will eventually be complete. Hard to convince them of your respect.

 Father in law said “I am no good because I can’t work” Fiddle repairs, pride & busy

Eva “I am just in the way” means nothing to do, bored, meaning, purpose. 

 Loving your elderly parent can be a delightful experience.  You will have your family history memorized!

 I know this works, because I saw myself fail. 

 Got legitimately busy with my children’s needs, high school graduation, CAP, Library activities, spring farm work.

 Meals consistent, provided things for her to do alone, checked Rx, but I no longer sat with her in the afternoons and chatted, looked at the clouds, talked about the past and future, answered heart-questions, assured her of my love and support, so our relationship suffered, she got angry when I invaded her privacy and took authority. 

 Anger – tough, why are they angry???  Hurts!

Fear of loosing freedom (memory, motor function) so lie to protect self,

 Fear of being a victim, lack of strength, agility, can’t see threats coming

 Paranoia – fear of strangers, lack of understanding of new situations, memory loss causes panic


Fear results in isolation to protect self, anger progresses in isolation

 Family in denial, don’t want to admit parent growing old, refuse to accept concern from others. 

Be on the lookout, drive behind parent, ask friends/family/landlord/Dr for observations.  Read Dr reports, go to appointments.

 Your elderly parents might not be able to tell you what they need

         Purpose, a meaningful life

         Answers, what they need to hear

         Care, with love and respect

         Companionship, enjoying what they have always done

         Compassion, take time to listen

 They raised you, now you keep them from falling.





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