Monday, 20 October 2014

Shhh.....she likes it!

It's a winner: the Nishi-sensei health book!!!

She started reading it immediately. Uses an old supermarket flyer as a bookmark...and is reading it avidly.

Deep back into her all-time favorite subject, with a real book in her hands. I wonder how many years it has been since she has actually read about the subject and not just talked about it?

I presented it to her on Saturday morning. In the book shop bag. "a present from your dear son and I, because we know you love Nishi-sensei. He is so popular they have new editions of the book!"
At first she said: "I don't need a book because I've studied that already. I know it all".

But I laid it on thick with a shovel about how important it is is to study one's health at all ages etc etc and she took the book and....started reading it!

So. We'll let that stew a bit.
I would really love to get her a video player and get the video set up for regular exercises.
Even if I have to get own on the smelly carpet myself with her and act like a goldfish by rippling my midriff.
Probably there would be some resistance at first - I can exercise on my own later! - but if the whole TV screen is full of the Nishi-exercises with a voice urging her onwards I think she would eventually join in.
Hell, we can control her Tv with a remote thru the glass of the kitchen doors. We could just flip the switch and the shopping channel would change to Nishi-exercises!
We'll see. But we could be onto something here...


  1. I am truly, absolutely delighted to read that. :-)


  2. It's great to see that she accepted the book instead of rejecting it flat out. Hopefully your plan for the regular exercise routine works out. It sounds like a really good idea.

    I've been also wondering about something for a while as I read your blog in the past year. The feeling I get from watching other care-givers in Japan is that those under their care are treated a bit like children in terms of decision-making. As in, they are not given as much choice, but often told (very gently) what to do. Even normally-functioning adults are treated like that, as I am sure you know — I think it’s just part of the culture. My husband asked me if I washed my hands when I got home for the longest time, until I told him that it really annoys me that he treats me like a child, but he was very surprised because to him it was a way to show that he cares about me and my health, and also a way to keep the communication going.

    So I've been thinking that since you have cared for okaasan for 5 years already, even though you are still not comfortable to act like the "mom" (for the lack of better word), I think it would be natural though if you do, and she will accept it, because it’s just how people treat each other in Japan. What I mean is, for example with exercise, you could say "Okaasan, now is the time for exercise, let's do it", instead of giving her a choice like asking if she wants to do exercises or not. Just like you’ve been suggesting for her to go out for a walk — I think you can do the same with more serious decisions too and she will accept it. Maybe not a doctor’s visit, but I think if you act assertively with the small things, she will slowly learns to listen to you, and then you can tell her what to do when it comes to bigger things like daycare and healthcare.

    From what you write, it seems that you do some of this already, but I really think that she would probably accept it if you did more decision-making. And also, I think someone wrote a similar thought in the comments, but I think that you don't have to feel like an "outsider" (for the lack of better word) when it comes to her care. You’ve been taking care of her long enough, and you’ve been with your partner long enough that I think she accepts you already. I think in the UK etc. it’s different and people are more independent, but in Japan I think it’s part of the culture to rely on others. Otherwise why would young mothers stay with their parents for the first few months after giving birth? There are so many socially acceptable behaviours around this whole reliance on others, I think, so much more than in the Western world.

    I wrote a lot, so I'll post comments in parts, because blogger won't let me post the whole thing.

    ~ Rin-Rin

  3. Part 2:

    I think that maybe she is more embarrassed if you actually talk to her about unpleasant things (like "why don't you wear the diapers") but may be more comfortable if you take over and be assertive (like, "Okaasan, I am going to help you change the diapers now" or "Okaasan, I am going to help you with a shower now", or "Okaasan, I will clean the carpet now, so let's get up/move" etc.). I think if you use a gentle voice and end your verbs with ~しましょう, it’s perfectly polite and acceptable. You could hang out in the reception area of a clinic that has many elderly patients (I am sure if you tell the receptionist why you wanna hang out and watch, they’ll let you) — and listen how the nurses talk to the elderly. I think that’s exactly the language they are using.

    Also, I think that if you tell okaasan what you are going to do instead of asking her what she wants to be done, you won't really acknowledge that she cannot do it herself, but still act helpful, so she may not feel as embarrassed when thinking that she can't do it herself. It basically removes the necessity for her to acknowledge her weakness — something she doesn’t want to acknowledge. Besides, it seems that the older people get, the less logic makes sense to them, so explaining things may not be as effective as just doing whatever needs to be done.

    Of course I know this is not as simple as I make it sound, but please think about it. Besides, people adjust to their environment, so if you act like a "foreign oyomesan", then okaasan will treat you like one, but if you act like the "boss" (haha) and "regular" oyomesan (whatever "regular" may mean to okaasan), I think she will accept it. She might not even think of you as foreign etc. anyway, she may already have accepted you as a family member who takes care of her. If I am saying something offensive, I am sorry — I don't know how you feel about how okaasan sees you and just make assumptions from what you write, but hopefully these are some ideas that may be a bit useful to you.

    ~ Rin-Rin

  4. Part 3 (last one)

    I've been reading your blog regularly for more than a year now, but never got to comment until today. I wanted to say thank you for sharing. I am back home after having lived in Japan for quite a few years, and staying with my family temporarily, and I am discovering something that may be early signs of alzheimers when watching my dad (mood swings, paranoia, illogical behaviour, repetitions of stories, etc.). Well, hopefully it's not, but it might be, so I started researching about this. He is just like okaasan too, and has very little trust in doctors in general. So I wanted to say: it's really helpful to read about how okaasan's condition progresses, and also about the decisions that you guys make about her care. I used to think that seeking medical attention and treatment immediately is best to ensure long-term quality of life, but the more I read your blog the more I wonder if the day-to-day quality of life is just as important or maybe more important. I think about that especially when I read about what you plan to do as okaasan refuses day care, instead of forcing her to go.

    Thank you so much for sharing. And I have a lot of respect and admiration for you for agreeing to be a care-giver. I am also married to a Japanese guy (chonan too, sigh), but I don't think I have the strength to go back to Japan and care for his parents, when the time comes. I think we are going to be the "no-good brother/son" family and his siblings will have to take over the care-giving... well, nobody knows what happens though, of course. Maybe 20 years from now I’ll be blogging just the same way you are blogging. But anyways, lots of respect for you. I see my older Japanese friends struggling with caring for their own parents or in-laws, and they probably have more social support from friends and stuff too. So, just wanted to say, 頑張って!!ファイト!ファイト!:D

    ~ Rin-Rin