Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mom doesn’t like kippers for breakfast….

…and other things to remember when preparing for [non-]immediate family and friends.

My mother is staying with me temporarily while a medical problem gets sorted, which has presented some interesting challenges that bear on preparation for emergencies.  For one, Mom doesn’t like kippers.  Doesn’t drink coffee.  Doesn’t eat much meat at all.  And she eats things I won’t touch, like Oreos and pudding, both of which I find disgusting and won’t have in my house.

And she needed a bed.  And padding to make the damn thing (a hospital bed) comfortable.

And…then there was the incident of the footboard in the night.  Nothing Sherlockian; the thing’s inside the room she’s in and she knocked it over, and where it was when it fell over was in front of the door.  Inside, blocking the door that opens in.  So…there was a bit of panic about getting into the room so I could move it out of the way so she could get out of the room.  And…then there’s the toilet seat she needs to use the toilet.  Fortunately, I have two bathrooms, but the one she uses has no sink because her need for staying with me arose in the middle of some minor remodeling and I couldn’t get anyone in to fix the lack-of-sink problem.  And…then there’s the issue of her needing her own shower back at home, because mine doesn’t have a seat (it’s too small) and not enough things to hang on to.

And…so on.

How you prepare for the ‘average’ person versus how you prepare for someone who has needs that vary significantly from yours considerably is a puzzlement if you’ve never had your mother stay with you, for example, or if you didn’t know that your nephew was allergic to a variety of foods, many of which are staples in your pantry and food stocks.  

Medical supplies and medications need to be considered if someone you are preparing for will need them.  Extra supplies for menstruating women, babies and the elderly include sanitary pads and/or tampons, (menstruation and incontinence), adult and baby diapers (incontinence again) and extra supplies for cleanliness need as well; extra laundry supplies if you laid in cloth diapers.  You might be able to go a day without a shower, but a baby needs to be cleaned up every diaper change, and an elderly individual with either urine or fecal incontinence will also need supplies to ensure cleanliness.

Individuals with chronic illnesses present other issues.  Colds come and go, but the individual with intermittent or persistent mobility issues will need to be accommodated somehow.  Can you build a ramp for those that are unable to negotiate the few steps to your front door?  Did you plan on putting people upstairs only to find that now your elderly parent can’t negotiate the stairs?  Think ahead, and if it means possibly moving people around to accommodate those coming into the household, discuss the issue beforehand to forestall resentment and hostility.

Consider the possibility that you may not be able to provide for the people you care about (or are related to).  Are there others who can provide for them?  Are their needs just too great or complicated for you to manage?  Be honest with people who may think you will provide for them about realistic expectations and what you can actually manage.

Then, too, there’s the other side of the coin with regard to the folks coming to your house:  people who are scent-sensitive mixing with those that like perfumed toiletries, people who prefer quiet to those who are more extroverted, and people who don’t like cats or are afraid of dogs are three examples of how those coming in to your house can disrupt your routine or affect your life in some way. 

If you have large dogs and someone coming to your house is afraid of dogs, they will have to unlearn their fear.  If you are scent sensitive and people you prepare for aren’t, let them know that scented items are not allowed and that your house is scent-free.  And stock up on extras of things that could bother you if they were scented, such as hand soap, shampoo and laundry soap…and if you need your space, say so!  Don’t let relatives or friends drive you crazy in an emergency.  State up front what your rules and expectations are.   This is a case of keeping your ‘cup’ full so that you can pour out care on others; if you compromise and give in and keep quiet too much you risk your own well-being, mental or otherwise, and then you cannot care for those you have chosen to care for.  It’s ok to set rules for your household, and it’s ok to expect anyone coming into your household to respect those rules.