If there is one way I know Mom is at least on the road to recovery, it’s her obsession with makeup. Today her personal tragedy was that her eyebrow pencil was almost all used up! Mom carries her little pink makeup bag with her everywhere. She places it on her lap as she wheels herself in her wheelchair to and from the dining room. I think there’s a comforting ritual there, the “touching up” of her face after eating a meal, and “putting on her face” in the morning. She may be sporting a colostomy bag in this new phase of her life, but she’s going to make sure her lipstick is on!
With Dad, food was the comforting thing he held onto for as long as possible, until he lost the ability to swallow. He would eat everything in sight at the nursing home, and would enjoy the treats Mom would bring him on her weekly visits more than the visit itself. (Because at a certain point he didn’t remember Mom as his wife, just as this woman that would bring him diet Sprite and cookies or candy.)
I think it’s instinct to try to find some comfort, physically or mentally, even when you are really ill. Some people turn to medication for a chemical form of comfort. Games and hobbies are a great diversion in this setting. I saw one woman at the nursing home today clutching her word search book as she was ushered to the dining room. One of the therapists said the residents sometimes refuse to go to therapy because it interferes with their Bingo game!
It’s interesting to stop and think what truly bring you comfort in life, the people, pets or objects that make you feel calm and whole. Sadly, when one ends up in a nursing home, one is often cruelly separated from those most cherished comforts, so one finds peace wherever they can. If a tube of lipstick brightens my mom’s spirit as much as her face, so be it.