Most elderly ladies, especially in South India, have worn nothing but sarees all their lives. While the saree is an elegant dress, it is quite a handful to drape, even for a normal person. But to have to drape it on another person, that too someone who is confined to their bed is not only tedious but also difficult to manage for multiple reasons. Just imagine having to change the saree every time there is a diaper ‘accident’ and you will understand some of the problems faced in such situations.
One such story involves an 89-year-old lady. This lady had been very active until she fell and fractured her hip a few months ago. One thing led to another and now she is confined to her bed, and dependent on her daughter for everything. A feisty lady, the perceived loss of control of the household and having to depend on others made her very difficult to deal with.
One of the things she refused to compromise on, in the beginning, was the saree. She insisted that she had to be in a saree all the time. And not just any kind of saree but one of the starched and iron cotton ones that she was used to all her life. The daughter tried gamely for a few days but was unable to take on the additional burden of changing her mother’s saree two or three times a day.
She then bought nightgowns from us, but her mother refused to even consider them, even after she was given a wide choice of designs to choose from. Finally, the mother and daughter had a big showdown at which time, the daughter reduced the choices to grey hospital gowns and our special design Cocoon nightgowns. The mother finally relented and decided to go with the nightgowns, for she abhorred the dowdy hospital gowns, which she felt made her look and feel even sicker than she actually was. Needless to say, the mood in the house subsequently went downhill.
We came to hear about this story when the daughter, the primary caregiver came to buy some more of our specially designed back-open nightgowns for her mother.
With dark circles around her eyes, hunched shoulders and a resigned look, she appeared to be at the end of her tether. On gentle probing, she confided that she felt that she had let her mother down as she could not even meet the simplest of her wishes.
Once she narrated her story, we took a leaf out of another customer’ story (similar beginning, but a different ending), and suggested the following:
1. Have specific visiting hours for her mother during which time her friends and relatives can come and visit her.
2. Get the mother dressed in a saree for the those visiting hours, so she can receive her visitors the way that she liked – prim and proper in a starched cotton saree.
A few weeks later, the daughter came back for a few more of our nightgowns. She seemed to be in a much better mood and was happy to share with us that our suggestion had worked very well and both mother and daughter were very pleased with the arrangement.
“Now that my mother has got used to wearing nightgowns, she finds them very comfortable and elegant. She has sent me here to get some more, with clear instructions to get pastel shades because that is what complements her complexion”, she said with a throaty laugh.
On our part, we are very happy to have contributed in making the life of another care recipient and that of the care giver just a little bit better.