Publisher Note: Our guest columnist is Darlene Franklin. "Resisting Conflict" is good advice whether you live in a nursing home or not.
Life inside the nursing home gives me daily opportunity for conflict. It often leaves me spouting like someone under arrest, feeling anxious, afraid, and helpless. I struggle to find the correct response when my inner child screams for fairness and justice. The needs are real, but ranting and pouting only push any possible resolution further away. A four-day holiday weekend with skeleton staff provided plenty of fodder for a storm. Thank God, I not only survived, but thrived.
I’ve been working with a therapist, learning skills on how to redirect my thoughts and change my behavior. I've applied the serenity prayer. God gives me wisdom to accept what I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. I’m making progress,
Here are examples of those principles at work:
- Empathy instead of attack
My med aide brought my 8 o’clock medicines at 11 a.m. I started to complain. She told me a family member had gone to jail. Instead of criticizing her, I prayed for her.
- Thanks instead of criticism
My aide and I had mixed signals about my bedtime. She came in an hour later than I expected. I realized I had misunderstood, and thanked her.
- Look for the good.
Instead of finding fault (there’s plenty), I look for things that my aides do well, such as fixing my hair. Thanking them for doing things as I like them improves my attitude.
- Accept what I can’t change
Over Christmas, I was given half the continence supplies I needed for four days. The man with the key to the supply room was gone. I brought up the problem on Friday and Saturday. After that, I accepted the situation in peace. If the staff’s lack of planning ahead created an issue later, they would be the ones looking for a solution.
- Do what I can.
Most of the conflicts over Christmas weekend were relatively unimportant. One had to be addressed: my call light went unanswered for six hours. When I couldn’t get the shift nurse to listen, I followed through with the Director of Nursing.
- Cultivate wisdom to know the difference.
How do I decide when to fight for something and when to let it go? Where do I draw the line between my needs vs. others, or unpredictable timetable vs. the need to schedule firm phone appointments? It’s not always easy, but with God’s help, I’m learning how.
I had ordered glasses in November. In December, the home’s social worker told me I couldn’t get glasses because I had received a new pair in July. I told her I hadn’t. After the new year I was going to ask for the prescription to get a pair on my own. I’m glad I waited—she brought me the new lenses a few days before Christmas.
With practice, and by God’s grace, we can learn how to avoid conflict before it escalates.
Darlene is a best-selling author. Here is your Blog: Darlene Franklin Writes