Today I took a client to the hairdresser. That was a giant victory because this very frail and very proud lady rarely lets anyone do anything for her. Then we had lunch (something she rarely does anymore) and picked up light bulbs for her nightlights and a battery for the radio beside her bed.
So what? So EVERYTHING!
At the end of this visit, my client held my hand in her arthritically crippled ones, looked into my eyes and said: “Today you crossed a barrier that few people ever cross.” I had earned her trust.
I don’t push her to do the things she should do for her own good but won’t do. I do the things she wants. She really wanted to have her hair done (even though she didn’t really want anyone to have to drive her there.) She wanted her radio working and her night lights lit. So that’s what we did, and she had what she wanted most and she didn’t have to listen to a “sermon” from me (as she calls it) about the rest.
There are so many things the rest of us want her to do: moving to safer housing being at the top of the list. (She has a history of falling.) I hope to make those things available to her, over time, as choices she makes for herself. But until they are her own choices, they are things for her to resist rather than embrace.
But today she agreed to just go look at some safer housing. Fair enough. We respect each other.