ELDER MUSIC: Drinking Songs Part 1



Eileen Emeline Ingles

In April, Eileen Emeline Ingles of Invercargill, New Zealand, turned 100. Until a year ago, writes reporter Gwyneth Hyndman, she ran to the mailbox every morning. I like what Ms. Ingles says about her age:

"Lots of people growl about being old – but you come to it gently. Sometimes you are a bit ratty, but we all have our bad days. I've always been a worker; I'm not one of those people that sits around."

You can read more here. (Photo by Robyn Edie/Fairfax NZ)

For the “what will they think of next” file sent in by doctafil:

[From the YouTube page] ”Here's one comfortable commute. A man in China has souped-up his recliner and is taking it to the streets.”

The title is limiting – plenty of husbands care for their sick and dying wives. So do parents, children and friends. It is no easier for them than wives and there is enough good, non-gender-specific information in the book that friends and other relatives should not be put off.

The Caregiving Wife's Handbook

What IS off-putting (for me, anyway) is that every one of the six “real-life” caregiving wives writer and psychologist Diana B. Denholm quotes at length are embarrassingly whiny – not just once but repeatedly throughout the book. Three examples from among many:

“I want to be a good wife,” says one, “but I am getting older and don't want to give up what's left of my life.”

“Something else I'd really like to say to him is, 'You ruined our retirement plans. We had to scrap them, and I missed my chance.'”

“Until the very end, I want to be there for him emotionally so this is easier for him. But I don't want to be his scrub nurse! I trained to be a teacher, not a scrub nurse.”

How hard did Denholm need to look to find these selfish, faithless women? I know how exhausting caregiving is; I've done it. I know how unpleasant and “icky” it can be. And it can go on for years and years and years. But who else should do it? And whatever happened to “in sickness and in health”?

There is nothing morally or ethically special about me and there is plenty in my life I am ashamed of. But it never crossed my mind while caring for my mother to question what I was missing or giving up. Everyone has a bad day now and then, but these women sound resentful about every single day.

All that doesn't mean The Caregiving Wife's Handbook isn't useful, especially for those who seek psychological support and suggestions for coping. It is available in print at all the usual book outlets. There is no ebook edition.

Tarzana sent this video of Peeping Tom, a Brussels-based dance and theater company. Their work, says the group's homepage, "explores the idiosyncratic behaviour experienced in close relationships." It is both quirky and beautiful.

There was a big hoo-haw on the internets this week when the well-known TEDTalks refused to publish a March presentation by millionaire Amazon investor, Nick Hanauer, about who is and who is not a job creator.

Unlike Mitt Romney, Jamie Dimon and other rich people who say only they create jobs, Mr. Hanauer believes it is the middle class who does and of course, he is correct.

But this is hardly startling information. Thom Hartmann, among others on TV and radio, has been harping on this for years and if you only vaguely follow political news and commentary, you have read dozens of economists and others who explain how and why this is true.

Pretty much only Mr. Romney, his supporters and most Republicans don't know this - or pretend they don't in a continuing effort to preserve their low tax rates and loopholes.

Enough dust was raised by websites accusing TEDTalks of elistism in not publishing Hanauer's presentation that they finally relented, releasing part of the talk on Thursday. I'm pretty sure TGB readers - or, at least, the ones who comment here - are way ahead on this issue but just in case, here is the Hanauer TEDtalk.

I love its speed and convenience, but the New York City subway is also dirty, gritty and loud. Nevertheless, last Wednesday, 72 musical acts auditioned at Grand Central Station to win prime subway positions where they may perform for a year amid the din and crowds.

Here's a little story about those musicians produced by the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority).

The funny folks at I Can Haz Cheezburger have a whole bunch of photos of cats as they would look if they were fonts. Here are Trajan Pro, Courier and Wingdings:

Cat Font Trajan

Cat Font Courier

Cat Font Webdings

You'll get a good giggle from the rest of them too – just click here.

Remember last year's amazing demonstrations in Milwaukee Madison? Tens of thousands of people for days and days in the depth of winter protesting against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

They got enough signatures to recall the governor and the election is coming up soon. TGB Reader Bev Carney sent along this video, You're Fired, by rapper Jasiri X.

Yeah, it's time for a Recall
United we stand divided we fall
We tired of being treated like we small
You forgot you work for us and we the boss

The rest of the lyrics are here.

Unless it's a laughing baby in a bathtub playing with the dog.

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.


Just one note, Ronni. The protests were in Madison, not Milwaukee. But thank you for the song inclusion!

Of course, you are correct, Anita, and I'm idiot. Fixed now.

The bits you quote from the caregiver book reinforce something I think about a lot. There seems to be a gulf between those of us who assume that that life is an inexorable flow, best lived together with others (even if we're loners as I am) and those who hope life is under their control and perhaps even at their service.

That's probably overstating things. I think the former sort are likely to be happier and kinder to others and the planet. Mostly I find this divide puzzling.

Being a care giver has to be the hardest job in the world and I am sure even a saint would have times when he/she resented having to do so, but to let that bitterness be the entire emotion that the person displayed does speak of selfishness and to blame the victim (the ill person) shows a complete lack of empathy.

It is going to be a tense day when the voters of Wisconsin make their decision. It will also be a test of how much influence the PAC money has on an election. If the voters ignore the dishonest ads and 'fire' Scott Walker anyhow it may make the gazillionaires think twice about wasting their money in future elections. One can only hope.

My husband, by nature a kind, funny and loving man, had Alzheimer's for 9 years. As the disease progressed he grew increasingly angry and abusive and took his rage out on me since I was the only one there.

(By the way, caring for a parent is completely different from caring for a spouse.)

What happened to "in sickness and in health"? Eventually, empathy can stretch no further and exhaustion and resentment move in.

You may call it whining and selfishness, but I was glad when it was all over. The man I loved had long since vanished.

I found the caregiver quotations very disturbing. While many caregivers may sometimes feel this way, it's inconceivable to me that any would actually say these things.

Without fail, every time I hear rich Republicans call themselves "job creators," a little voice in my head responds, "So where are the jobs?" Those people have their money and their comfortable lives many times over. If they are job creators, why are there still no jobs?

Yes, caring for a parent is different from caring for a spouse. Like you, Ronni, I was my mother's caregiver for a decade, and every day I thought about all that I had to give up to do what I was doing. Of course, I didn't tell my mother that, but I did tell my therapist and my friends. As a caregiver, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place, no matter how much you love the person to whom you are giving care. It's not good to hold those feelings in, to try to lie to yourself that you are enjoying what you are doing. Better to give your anger voice because anger becomes depression if it's suppressed. Those women were just being honest with themselves and with the world. If you didn't feel resentment and anger at giving up what was your life to be a caregiver, then you are a much better woman than I am.

Caring for a loved one who can interact with you is vastly different than trying to manage someone with advanced dementia. I don't think anyone who had a decent relationship with their parent or spouse, experiences much resentment when physical failings create the need for caregiving, but caring for a patient with dementia is a whole different situation, and even the most generous of us would finally hit a wall if there were no support.

I watched my 73 year old neighbor and his wife deal with her early onset Alzheimer's, for the last 5 years of her life. All but a couple of their friends deserted them, which is very common. Although he had a positive cheery nature, he had days when I could tell it was very, very hard for him. I took her shopping with me to give him an hour or two each week that he didn’t have to watch her constantly, and visited often so they wouldn't feel isolated, but I could see it was grueling. His intention was to keep her home until the very end, but the 24 hour nature of her care necessitated a move to a nursing home situation for her last year.

I'm with the readers who want to be cautious about condemning the whiny caregiver-wives. I helped take care of my mother and did not find it a hardship but I watched my brother take care of his mother-in-law for a very long time, well over a decade, and I let him use me as a soundboard. He whined A LOT. But I knew it was just him letting off steam, he needed someone to listen and not condemn him for not being entirely heroic about it. I haven't read the book, but I wonder if the psychologist-author did the same with the caregiving wives. They may have been encouraged to vent.

I was never a caregiver, but I was around during the time my little brother was taking care of this in my family. He was heroic and spent much of his 18th through 23rd year as primary caregiver for my father who fought throat cance and cirrhosis for three years, then my mother who died from Lou Gehrig's disease afdter three excruciating and tragic years, then my 89 year old grandmother who suffered dementia and died after a year in a rest home. He really was a hero. I could not handle the horror of it, especially when I realized the lose-lose nature of it all: the stricken ones are guilt-ridden for 'making' their family give up years of their own lives dealing with to horrid daily developments; and the caregivers are stricken with guilt for longing for it be over.

One day, to my dismay, I found myself walking down a sidewalk stepping on every single crack....

I have to say the caregivers' future must be very different for younger relatives: when it's over, they can go back to their lives again and maybe take up where they left off --- but a spouse must now face a bleak lonely and uncertain life alone, immediately after perhaps several years of looking on in dismay and the daily horror of watching their mate's bodies or minds draining away.

That has to be disheartening. And burying those feelings under outward smiles and making nice is called denial, which itself can be very destructive. This is lose-lose. Heartbreaking for all. I could never make judgments about any of this. It is just too overwhelming to try to imagine how deep someone else's feelings could go, and what a trial it is to be at the center of things.

I thank God that my husband has been so compassionate and caring during my stroke recovery, which has been a far cry from the challenges of extended decline and end-of-life circumstances.

Still, it has been grueling for him, shouldering my care, work, and all the chores of daily living. He has erupted on occasion when a request of mine has come when he was already at the end of his energy or frazzled from other circumstances.

But occasional snippiness is not uncommon among couples when both partners are healthy. And what is his more common eruption is laughter, which is contagious and healing for both of us.

Since it is the "Wives" handbook - it is hard to apply it to other relationships. I think the author put the complaints of those wives in the book so that readers would realize that their feelings were normal and it would alleviate some of the guilt. When one is living with a spouse that has lost physical and especially mental faculties, it starts to feel like one is living with a ghost. You have lost the person that you originally promised "in sickness and in health" and are left with a never-ending period of grieving and loss with a constant living reminder for which you are extremely responsible for. It is a very complicated relationship heavy with the losses of what enhanced the relationship in the first place.

Like several other commenters, I would cut the "whiny" women a little slack. They had not walked out and refused to care for their husbands. They were acknowledging a truth - that anyone (but Mother Teresa, maybe?) would feel resentful at times.
I think Diane hit it on the nose - that the author wanted to assure others that what they were feeling had validity and was normal. Truth be told, many of us mothers felt the same way at times when our children were driving us crazy!
I should sign my comment "No Saint"!

I think your characterizing these women as "whiny" reveals a level of judgement based on quite a different care giving experience than some of these women may have experienced. That's not to say there can't be types you describe.

Simply because some of them may have legitimately recognized and said aloud how their lives might have been different had these unexpected circumstances not developed, even longed for missed opportunity, does not mean they were "less than" as caregivers.

Some may, in fact, deserve medals of honor for remaining on duty under extenuating circumstances. We have no way of knowing what the relationship was between spouses/partners/children/parents before the caregiving became necessary.

I can tell you the comments I've read here offering some compassion for these women are very like experiences I've been privy to having spouses (male and female) share with me in my professional capacity.

I was a caregiver for a parent for many of her years. We had an ideal relationship, plus her mind was intact until the end, so I was extremely fortunate. You can be quite certain that anyone caring for a loved one with any mental changes can present health-destroying behaviors for the caregiver.

The length of caregiving time required, the daily amount and so many factors can bring caregivers to a breaking point. They would have to be brain dead to not remember how they, and maybe even the person for whom they were caring, had expected their lives to unfold differently. Surely there can be tolerance allowing them to entertain times when they considered some of their dreams would not be realized. I expect some readers somewhere gain comfort from knowing they're not alone with such thoughts.

I faced issues with my husband that could give one reason to wonder about exactly what does "in sickness and in health" mean and he hadn't become bedridden or fully dependent.

So, don't be too quick to judge what thoughts and feelings caregivers express. I would caringly suggest you consider the words you use to characterize them with a little more care.

Caregiving is not gender specific, but the reality is that most caregivers are female -- partly because our society sees that as the woman's job -- oldest daughter, etc.

The caregiving men I've encountered have often been even more solicitous than some women, but it's all highly individual.

The bottom line is, that the caregiver must preserve their own health -- sometimes easier said than done -- because if they don't, they won't be any good to the person for whom they're caring or themselves.

I enjoyed the other videos and especially the TED one.
What's the story with TEDTalks and their not wanting to share this speaker? Are they just one more group dominated by people with an agenda?

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