Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Queen of the Manor vs Sorrowing Sufferer: Long Live the Queen

My mother has been given the gift of being able to accept help from me without undue angst.  Oh sometimes she resists my guidance, but for the most part, her way of coping with the help I must give  is to assume the persona of  one who has hired a service. I am merely someone who is performing an expected task, and thus her world is brought into an endurable balance. She doesn't have to feel guilt or undue remorse over me (despite my oftentimes blatant bids for sympathy).  I am the waitress, housekeeper, nurse, or cook; someone whose job it is to do what I'm doing, and often she can see that I'm not particularly well-qualified.  Good help is hard to find, and so she endures.

This isn't an uncommon strategy for dementia patients, but is one I found demeaning when I was  a new caregiver. Even now there are days when I feel like Cinderella at the mercy of her stepmother.  The detachment my mom assumes when she is in "queen of the manor" mode is hurtful; this, along with the havoc caused by Alzheimer's, blinds her not only to my emotions but also to any responsibility she might have to accept my ministrations with love and gratitude rather than with an attitude of entitlement.  

In my struggle against resentment I was helped by these thoughts: do I really want her heart to bleed over all she is putting me through? Am I really so petty that I would enjoy her suffering over the difficulties I've endured on her behalf just so I could lap up the sympathy and credit my tiny ego craves? 

Well of COURSE not.  Give me an uppity dementia patient any day over one who is stricken by suffering and grief.  It's enough of a prayer challenge for me to cope with my own load of sorrow; if Mom was suffused in grief over her condition, well, that would be horrible.  But she's not sad, not at all.  She's happy with her stack of books, her journal, and her music c.d.'s.  Meals delivered on time and with a proper attitude of consideration and care please her, delicious food delights her.  Mom enjoys life.  

And I am truly glad that she does, so glad.

A post I wrote back in 2012 deals in greater detail with this issue of coping with our loved ones' hurtful words and attitudes, along with helpful Scriptures and an excerpt from my caregiving book.  You can find it by clicking on this phrase: ...she treats me like hired help...


  1. Thank you for this post. I see this attitude in my mother more often now and I have to guard my thoughts and attitudes so closely then Sometimes I actually succeed! Have a blessed evening.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Melanie, I'm praying for you and your mom right now. Here's to our caregiving successes, and thank the Lord for His grace when we fail!