Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dealing with Sickness in the Family and the Kids

The real problem, we thought at that time, was what to do when the opa is admitted to the hospital for his surgery. The real problem would be, what would happen to our oma, who is suffering from early stages of Alzheimer.

She definitely dont want to get out of her house. Which is only natural, as those with Alzheimer tends to stay within the familiar grounds. But before the opa finally was admitted to the hospital, she agreed to be on holiday at her daughter's house.

And so it goes... opa was admitted to the hospital and oma stayed at her daughter's place.But the next day, she wanted to go home and wont hear about anything else. She even started being physical; and draining herself in the process.

My husband came with the girls. Thinking that having the girls would have a calming effect and since the girls' have been asking about the oma -- my husband brought the kids there.

And they heard and witnessed almost everything. They tried to shelter them, but kids are clever than we think. MC said nothing at first, and then she started asking question pertaining the oma. And she's really disturbed and she even cried on what's happening. Everything confused her, especially the time when oma even asked her who she is. Until now, MC cant get over the fact that oma forgot who she is!

It came clear when she started walking in her sleep; and disturbing almost everything on her path... on her talking on her sleep and on her coming to us in the middle of the night and while still asleep chatting a mile a minute. As for IC, she was running a high fever after a few days. It dawned on us that it was a wrong decision to let the kids witness some things.

So here is some advices about dealing with family emergencies and helping the kids to deal with them:

1. Explain to the kids, in simple words, what is really happening.
We told the kids that opa would be having an operation. That he would be in the hospital for a long time because he would be 'repaired' so he would get better. And that oma would have a holiday at their Tante's house.

2. Tell them there would be some changes. Both grandparents would not be at home; meaning, they wouldnt be able to visit oma and opa at their own house for a short time. No more lunch dates nor short hellos.

3. Talk to them. If they have questions, try to answer them as simple as possible. Try not to avoid those questions. There is a big chance that those questions came out because they heard and they feel something is not right.

4. Comfort them. Always give them reassurances that everything are being done for the good of those affected. And dont forget to be generous with your hugs and kisses.

5. Update them. Yes, give them the news as they come. I know they needed to know what is happening. MC would always be the one running to the telephone everytime the phone rings and she wont step out of the room until I told her what was the conversation all about.

6. Shield them from 'heavy dramas'. There are somethings that are simply too much for the kids. Ask them to play outside or take them someplace else if you know something disturbingis and would be taking place taking place.

7. Continue with your normal schedules. Although opa is in the hospital, we never skipped a day, celebrating our town feast with the kids. It's been a tradition to be there, all four days, with the kids; and opa even gave the kids money for the rides. And yes, the kindergarten schedule and playtime schedule of the kids were followed, too.

8. Take a break. When everything is almost back to normal, go for a vacation with the whole family. It is time to relax and to give yourself a break and de-stress. A short one is enough, what is important is that; you give time for the family.

Everything is almost back to normal with us. And I hope and pray it would remain that way for a long time.

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