Patience is a virtue, they say. It is learned over an extended time period, and it takes focused and intentional practice. I was thinking today about being patient with my mom and what that all entailed. I’ve always had a tendency to want to get things done quickly and efficiently. Whatever I’m dealing with, I like to assess the situation and “get er done!” So when I would go to visit her at Oak Crossing, it seemed she was never in any big hurry to do anything--especially moving at a quick pace! At first it would frustrate me when I felt like we were wasting time doing things so slowly. But I started to realize that it didn’t matter one bit to her how much we got done in our time together. All that mattered was that we were together, and I came to appreciate this too.
If you’ve ever found yourself in this same position, keep in mind that you’re not alone. When you are visiting an elderly loved one or someone who has a dementia, it can be helpful to remember to “take five” when you feel impatience rising within you. Your fingers on your hand can be a reminder of the things you need to take inventory of.
1. Take a DEEP BREATH. Remember you are there to be with them and whatever you have on your agenda, scratch it off your list.
2. Put a SMILE on your face when you greet them, just as you would if you haven’t seen a very special person in a very long time.
3. When you greet them SOUND JOYFUL and not like it’s a chore to see them. Our attitude is heard through our voice. Remember that your loved one probably doesn’t want to be where they’re at, and if you come in drudgingly, they will sense it and it could turn your whole conversation toward a downwards spiral.
4. LISTEN to them when they speak, and don’t interrupt or try to finish their sentences. Pretend you have all the time in the world to hear what they have to say. They may be feeling lonely, and you being there might provide such enjoyment for them that they want to tell you everything that’s on their mind.
5. PRACTICE PATIENCE with your loved one, don’t be in a hurry to visit or they will sense that. Sometimes all that’s needed is just for you to sit with them and hold their hand. And who knows, that may be exactly what you need too.
Let 2019 bring a renewed interest in practicing more patience with one another--especially with those who need it the most. If you’ve got other other tips for practicing patience, let us know by leaving a comment or sending us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.