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It’s hard watching my mom care for grandma

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a sixth-grade primary school girl, and my mom has been having a hard time since my grandma developed dementia.

Around a year ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, and she now goes to a day care facility.

Recently, she has started taking medicine too many times a day or phones my mom and me many times when we go out.

She also sometimes refuses to go to day care, saying she has a backache.

She says, “It hurts so much now, more painful than before,” and calls my mother asking for help every 30 minutes.

I tell grandma: “You go to the day care facility to treat your pain, so don’t skip going there.” But she still doesn’t want to go and can walk without difficulty at home.

I can’t help my mom well because I’m preparing for middle school entrance exams. My mom sometimes shouts at grandma because she’s so stressed out. It’s really sad for me to see my mom shouting like that.

I have a great life, and I’m allowed to study however much I want to, but it’s painful for me to see my mom, who works hard to support me, having such a hard time.

And although I complain a lot about my grandma, I still love her. What can I do?

Y, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. Y:

We sometimes sleep soundly and sometimes have a bad dream that causes us to cry out. When we are awake, we sometimes get so excited that we talk about the wildest things, and sometimes go so crazy about something that we can’t see what’s happening around us. We all live by switching back and forth between these several worlds.

So why don’t you just imagine that your grandmother is traveling between these worlds a bit more frequently than before?

When you and your mother were a baby, you sometimes must have gotten so mad that there was nothing anyone could do. At that time, your grandmother must have earnestly cared for you while trying to pacify and please you. Now, it’s her turn to be taken care of by you and your mother. In our life, people who care for others and people who are cared for switch roles as time goes by.

Most of the time, people don’t behave the way we want. Things don’t go our way, either. In this respect, when we live, we have to cope with so many hardships. Even so, hardships are not something that should be reduced, but something to be shared among us as a common feeling.

You are now sad and concerned about your grandmother and your mother. At the same time, you are learning such important things about life.

Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher

(from March 5, 2015, issue)

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