FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN
/ Funny Stuff
As the calendar pages flip from summer to fall
and (hopefully) the heat lets up just a little, I am
inclined to talk about something that many who are
not family caregivers do not understand—caregiver
humor. This refers to those situations which arise
out of your caregiving that you cannot help but
chuckle about. Especially as we enter the silly
season of politics, a little humor may go a long
One of my favorite humorous stories about family
caregiving came from a social worker named Claire
who attended a recent Fearless Caregiver Conference.
She told a story about her days as a trainee when
she was working at a long-term care facility.
These were the days before Naomi Feil developed
Validation Therapy, which encourages validating the
beliefs of those living with mild dementia (as long
as they are not harmful to themselves or others). In
other words, respect their beliefs as opposed to
arguing with them.
In this case, our intrepid social worker in
training was told by her superior to approach a
resident who would stand in the corner for hours
talking with her husband Harry. The only problem was
that Harry had passed away ten years earlier. The
supervisor wanted Claire to make Mrs. Smith
understand that Harry was not standing next to her.
Claire didn’t want to do it, but she approached Mrs.
Smith and told her in no uncertain terms that Harry
was indeed dead. Mrs. Smith nodded in
acknowledgement and then turned to her right and
stated, “You hear that Harry? She says you’re
It also helps when your loved one has a sense of
humor as well, as witnessed in this story from my
friend, Arthur Cohen:
I remember when my dad was in his last days
at home, it took three of us to help transfer him
from his wheelchair to his hospital bed. What made
it even more difficult was the catheter, which was
always uncomfortable. We accidentally tugged on it
and he screamed in pain, even with the morphine. We
were mortified that we hurt him, and we were trying
so hard to be gentle. There was silence.
My dad, sensing our pain, said in a very
matter-of-fact way, "Do I need to have this catheter
forever, or just while I'm still alive?"
It’s seven years later and I'm still