To Push Or Not To Push
From the time that I was a small child, I learned to push my mom. She had multiple surgeries when I was young. At least two of them were major surgeries. She also had a stroke when I was 14. All of this was before she was diagnosed with COPD.
There were many times that I know she would have given up if I had not been there, pushing her. She told me that, when I was a child, I would sometimes just stand and watch her. Other times I would tell her that I believed in her. She said that many times, it was the fact that I was there, needing her to keep going, that kept her moving in the right direction.
When mom was diagnosed with COPD, I was in my mid-twenties. I had been living a few hundred miles away from home just a few short years before her diagnosis. I had only been home about a year when we learned what she was dealing with. That same spirit that I had as a child kicked in, full force. I needed mom to know that I believed in her ability to fight, and I needed to push her to live as much as possible.
Most of the time, that drive in me was welcome. However, there were times that I had to learn when to back off. Sometimes the line between effectively pushing her and pushing too much would be blurry. It was very important for me to know that I was doing everything that I possibly could to move her in the right direction, but I learned early on that it was even more important to find a way to understand her limitations.
As a caregiver, we want our loved one to live healthy and remain active, and when they say that they can’t do something our first response is usually, “You can do it. Just try harder.” Let me slip you a small piece of valuable advise. Sometimes, they really can’t. Not only that, they really shouldn’t.
You will lose your patient’s trust if you keep pushing them without listening to them. If they are saying that they cannot walk around the mall two more times, stop pushing them for three. However, trying for one might be a good compromise. Our drive to keep them healthy can sometimes push them too far.
Not pushing at all sends wrong messages too. It says that you don’t care enough to keep them actively living. It implies that it is all too much trouble and that giving up is an option.
It is up to you to find that perfect place in the middle where your encouragement moves them forward without being too much. This perfect middle place will likely change as the years go by and the disease progresses. Their limits will change as well as your expectations on them. No matter what their limits are, never give up on them. You are their cheerleaders and pep band. Be the loudest fan in the stands for that special person in your life. You may be the only positive voice that they are hearing all day.
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