PDA

View Full Version : Long hair dilemma



Sana
May 3rd, 2008, 11:20 PM
I just thought I would share the argument that has been going on all day. It's regarding my mom's sister. She is 90 with classic length hair all her life. Of late she is no longer able to take care of her hair & needs help with washing it & caring for it in general. Her daughter has to do it. Now the dilemma is that her daughter herself has classic length hair & so does her daughter who is in school. Now my cousin has to take care of not just her hair but her mom's as well as her daughter's. It seems to be taking its toll on her & she also has some back issues. So my mother suggested that they cut my aunt's hair to atleast maybe bsl so that it is a little easier. My aunt ofcourse hates the idea. I am against it too as I feel that we have no right to cut her hair which she has cherished all her life. She already does get a trim every 2 wks as I don't know for some reason her hair seems to be growing like crazy. My cousin wants us all to make the decision & she will honor it. It is such a sad situation & ofcourse I think my aunt should be left to make the decision. Any thoughts on this? :(

rhosyn_du
May 3rd, 2008, 11:49 PM
If I'm understanding the situation correctly, I think it's something that needs to be worked out between your aunt (since it's her hair) and your cousin (since she's the one caring for your aunt's hair), and while others in the family will of course offer their opinions, since that's the way family works, no one should be pressuring your aunt and cousin either way.

eadwine
May 4th, 2008, 12:57 AM
I agree 100% with rhosyn_du. It is no-one else's business but your mom's sister and her daughter's.

longhair4jesus
May 4th, 2008, 01:16 AM
wow that is unbelievable to have hair that long at that age and it's still growing

ultimately the choice to make is only for those involved and they should not pressure her

tiny_teesha
May 4th, 2008, 02:55 AM
perhaps they should all wear braids (to stop tangling) and join the NW team!?
I think that it is to the owner of the hair to decide what length it is. Full stop!

Lamb
May 4th, 2008, 04:39 AM
I'm gonna be a little blunt here, please do no tbe hurt. Your aunt is 90. By all human calculation, she has not long left to live. She is in the very last stage of her life.

So why can't she have this one thing, her treasured hair, left for her to enjoy for this short time? It seems very mean to me to do such a thing to someone who may die (I'm sorry but this is true) any day? What does caring for an old lady's long hair include beside detangling, perhaps braiding, and washing (which I'm sure she does not do every day)? Why is it such a sacrifice? It is not fair to mar someone's last years on earth in such a petty way.

Your aunt spent 70+ years caring for others, including her daughter. Compared to what she has done for her, this little extra does not sound a lot. If she is really fond of her hair, she should be allowed to keep it. Case closed.

(I'm sorry if I sound judgmental to your cousin or mom - I just can't help feeling that the elderly are treated very unfairly in such situations, when really, every day of a 90 year old woman's life should be celebrated as if it was her birthday.)

Gecko
May 4th, 2008, 04:40 AM
If I was your aunt I would want it to be my decision, but I might just want to cut it all off if it was an inconvenience for everyone. Like tiny_teesha said, braids and nw sounds like a good idea. They have no water shampoo and conditioner. Really if I couldn't take care of my hair self, I might just want to get rid ot it. If I was your cousin having to take care of my mother's hair... it can't take up that much time can it? And she's my mom, I'd do it for her. I'm pretty sure my mom would have cut her hair by now however.

saman
May 4th, 2008, 05:49 AM
I really like old ladies with long hair and that length is awesome but I think it's difficult for your cousin taking care of 3 persons hair

Kittee
May 4th, 2008, 06:55 AM
My grandmother died at 66 really young, but her hair was waist length and silver.

I understand how hard it is to care for the elderly, my mother is a Geriatric specialist, I've spent a good part of my life in and out of nursing homes and I have seen the despair there. Ultimately it is up to your mom and her sister though. I wish you all peace and calmness in whatever your family decides.

frizzinator
May 4th, 2008, 08:33 AM
Why not cut off the child's hair, if the child cannot take care of it herself? Surely the child could take care of her own hair if it was short. Plus, the child will be able to grow it long again whenever she can take care of it herself.

florenonite
May 4th, 2008, 08:50 AM
Why not cut off the child's hair, if the child cannot take care of it herself? Surely the child could take care of her own hair if it was short. Plus, the child will be able to grow it long again whenever she can take care of it herself.

I agree, she has the rest of her life ahead of her to grow long hair, whereas the aunt doesn't have much time left (I'm not trying to be callous, but she's done well even to reach the age of ninety) and her hair is something she cherishes so much, and people at that age have few things left to cherish (my maternal grandparents are 87 and 91, and they're so happy whenever I come to visit because they can't do much anymore).

Delila
May 4th, 2008, 09:15 AM
I agree that the aunt and the caregiver need to come to some agreement, but I also think that the daughter should be taking care of her own hair. Whatever the daughter's age, it's not too young to start caring for it herself. Mom can help her figure it out, and they should work together to keep an eye on things, but IMO, once a child's old enough to HAVE long hair, they should be old enough to start learning how to take care of it.

Gemma
May 4th, 2008, 09:27 AM
I'm gonna be a little blunt here, please do no tbe hurt. Your aunt is 90. By all human calculation, she has not long left to live. She is in the very last stage of her life.

So why can't she have this one thing, her treasured hair, left for her to enjoy for this short time? It seems very mean to me to do such a thing to someone who may die (I'm sorry but this is true) any day? What does caring for an old lady's long hair include beside detangling, perhaps braiding, and washing (which I'm sure she does not do every day)? Why is it such a sacrifice? It is not fair to mar someone's last years on earth in such a petty way.

Your aunt spent 70+ years caring for others, including her daughter. Compared to what she has done for her, this little extra does not sound a lot. If she is really fond of her hair, she should be allowed to keep it. Case closed.

(I'm sorry if I sound judgmental to your cousin or mom - I just can't help feeling that the elderly are treated very unfairly in such situations, when really, every day of a 90 year old woman's life should be celebrated as if it was her birthday.)

I agree 100%.

I do not want to denigrate in any way how hard it is to care for someone who is elderly, infirm, or disabled, but at the same time it would be so sad for someone so old to lose one of her pleasures in life for the sake of convenience.

psvzum
May 4th, 2008, 09:41 AM
That's such a shame. I feel badly for your Aunt and her daughter. I agree with what the others said about braiding. Just keep it as simple as possible.

Blueglass
May 4th, 2008, 09:59 AM
The problem is with daughter number one the care giver. She can teach her daughter to take care of her own hair. She can also simplify her own routine. Or she can cut her own hair to waist or mid-back. No reason to traumatize a child or innocent old woman

k_hepburn
May 4th, 2008, 09:59 AM
Having seen my grandmother's need of care increase in recent years (she finally had to be moved into an old people's home a few months ago), I can understand the kind of strain that caring for an older and fragile person will put one the caregiver, especially if it's a family member (frequently the daughter). Being responsible for the care of her elderly mother (as well as looking after her school age daughter) is probably taking a considerable toll on your cousin, straining her physically as well as mentally. I agree that old people's wishes should be respected wherever possible, but with increasing needs this will not always be possible. The well-being of the primary caregiver also needs to be respected.

I would recommend to try to approach the problem practically, with the aim of helping your cousin while allowing your aunt to keep her hair if at all possible.

My first suggestion would be to be looking into alternative arrangements to care for your aunts hair. There are hair dressers specialising in home visits to care for old people's hair. You write that your cousin "has to do" your aunts hair as well as care for all of your aunts other needs, but really, if there are sufficient funds available (in my experience those home hair dressing services are not actually all that expensive) there is no objective reason why your aunt's hair should not get done by somebody else, especially if your cousin is suffering from back problems already. If your aunt protests she does not want her hair being handled by "a stranger" than maybe it would be a good idea for another family member (your mom?) to intervene on your cousin's behalf, reminding your aunt that she should give your cousin some relieve in her duties where that is feasible, and that, in the end, the alternative would be to get her hair cut. If money was really really tight, maybe other family members would be prepared to chip in, helping your aunt out, if they can (after all, they appear to be actively involved in the decision of what's to happen regarding your aunt's hair).

Another option, though again involving a certain amount of cost, would be to provide your cousin with some kind of special hair washing sink set up in the bathroom that would allow her to do your aunt's hair without straining her back in the process. Anyone good at DIY in the family who could help out with that?

However, if these solutions should fail / not be feasible, I'm afraid that I would have to side with your cousin's needs here. Full-time caring for an elderly person is a tough job, especially for a close relative, and it is essential that the caregiver is able to set the boundaries they need to set in order not to sacrifice their own health and well-being in the process. I fully understand that it would be hard on your aunt to give up her classic length hair, but if she wants to rely on her daughter's care, then she needs to accept that she needs to "ration" her demands to help her daughter cope with this responsibility. Your cousin appears to be trying her best to do right by her mother, so if she says she cannot (physically) cope with caring for your aunt's classic length hair, and no alternative solution as suggested above can be found, then your aunt as well as the other family members in my opinion, should come to accept that.


Greetings

katharine

goodenough
May 4th, 2008, 11:09 AM
Could she have it washed/cared for at a salon once a week? We do this for my grandma, it gives her something to look forward to. That should really be enough since she probably isn't too oily. Or could you family members take turns washing her hair for her? I know it would be a challenge either way. My great-grandmom had long hair, and she never cut it and only had to wash it a few times a month because she always wore it up. She lived with it like that into her eighties.

Blueglass
May 4th, 2008, 01:08 PM
Sounds like a good idea goodenough. And, come to think of it as a child I only washed my hair once a week and it was fine. I was thinking where does this family live? Are there any Apostalics Christians, or Sikhs in the area that would like to come the house to do this service? I'm sure they'd love to help.

somethingwicked
May 4th, 2008, 01:13 PM
X eleventy billion on the possible home care visits to take care of the washing, or beauty salon trip if it's possible. I KNOW how stressful it can be to have to take care of an ailing or aging family member, but it breaks my heart to think of this womans hair being cut against her will at her age, and I'm not just saying that because I'm hair sympathetic. I'm sure it's a pain, but it seems like a minor inconvenience if it's that important to her, and that's something we should all relate to. After all her years on this earth, let her die with her hair, if that's what she wants.

Rosamaria
May 5th, 2008, 06:28 AM
This is really a difficult situation and I don't know what the answer is, but I'd just like to put in my little penny's worth: just because this lady with the long hair is 90, it doesn't necessarily mean that she is at the end of her life or close to death. She could possibly live another 5-10 years. As she gets older, the problems with looking after her will get greater, and she herself will probably find it more and more difficult to make a decision. Perhaps a compromise now would be a good idea. It wouldn't necessarily mean cutting her hair short - perhaps a bit shorter than waist length might make it more manageable. If the old lady wants to be looked after by family she might have to recognise the limits of their time and energy and be willing to meet them half-way.

Speedbump
May 5th, 2008, 07:02 AM
Can anyone else in the family who lives close come in JUST to take care of your aunt's hair? It sounds like, honestly, the caregiver is overwhelmed by more than hair here. Perhaps your cousin needs more help than she is willing to say and this is a way to ask for it? Just a thought.

Mrs. K
May 5th, 2008, 07:50 AM
I was just wondering what your aunt's living arrangements are and her financial situation. Is she living with your cousin? Does she have financial resources that could be used to hire help with her care? At 90, I would think that there are more things that she needs help with than taking care of her hair. If she has resources, it would be a good idea for your cousin to hire someone to come in for a few hours a day/week depending on her needs and your cousin's needs. The helper could get her meals, help her bathe and wash her hair, take her to activities (if she has any) and doctors apts (if your cousin doesn't NEED to be with her). It can be overwelming taking care of an elder along with raising children, and it can put a strain on the monther/daughter relationship. If your cousin has help, she can focus on her relationship with her mother instead of having to focus on all the work.

My mom is 82 and still living on her own. She has a lady that comes in every day during the week from around 9am-noon, and is flexible if my mom needs her longer. She tidy's up the house, fixes her breakfast and lunch, or takes her out to eat if my mom wants to do that. She takes her grocery shopping, to the doctor, helps her bathe, takes her to the hair dresser, basically is available to help her with whatever she wants. There are still a lot of things we need to help her with, so it is great to have the helper do all the things that she does.

Here is a website that I found helpful. http://www.aging-parents-and-elder-care.com/ .

My vote is for your aunt to keep her hair, but I think that she needs to pay someone to take care of it. If she doesn't have the ability to pay for the care of her hair, then it would be up to your cousin if that is something that she wants to do or not. It is just too difficult for the child to do all the work required to maintain the lifestyle that the elder parent would like to hold onto and still maintain her own life also.

Sana
May 5th, 2008, 08:35 AM
Thanks all for your kind replies. It is such a sensitive issue but not many people understand it. I have some people wonder what the big issue it....as it is 'just hair'.

My mom used to take care of her sister before but we had some health issues & she had to come her to help us out. So my cousin is completely taking care of her & she is overwhelmed with a lot more than just hair. She does have some help but not enough. My aunt has been very independent all her life & cared for all of us in the family. But you know how people that old are....they are sometimes like children:rolleyes: She keeps forgetting that her hair is done, she unbraids her hair every hour & calls her daughter to oil it or braid it. She doesn't let anybody else touch her hair which is another issue. She suspects that my cousing cuts off a little of her hair everytime she combs & keeps complaining to anyone that will listen. Now normally you would not mind it but when you are overwhelmed with a lot of things you tend to react & it brings out the worst in you. Also she wants her hair to be washed only with shikakai & refuses to use any shampoo. So it's a lot of things that seemed to have tired out my cousin.

Anyway my niece had decided to cut her hair for now.....none of us said anything, she decided on her own. I am so proud of her. She isn't cutting very short or anything. Just above waist so that she can manage a little on her own.

Ofcourse as to us making decisions for them...we really don't want to:( But you know how people experience guilt when they have to make decisions for others...it sometimes probably makes it easier when you know someone else is with you. We know what my cousin wants to hear......she just wants us to let her know that it is ok. Ofcourse we all understand......but we just have to assure her I guess.

Melisande
May 5th, 2008, 08:39 AM
I'm a compromise-maker by nature.

I think what I would do is: have small changes for everyone concerned, no drastic changes for anyone. This would mean a slightly shorter cut for all of them. Still long hair, but not super long. And the longest for the old lady.

And get all the help you can.

I've worked for years in a geriatric institution and one fond memory is of the TB long hair a lady had. I loved her. We didn't cut her hair. I'm glad we didn't, it was so important to her.

But we were not alone in caring for her. Your aunt will need help, I guess.

BTW: it's a wonderful thread, so much respect for old people. Beautiful and touching to read.

Oh, I didn't see that we posted at the same time. Sorry.

Islandgrrl
May 5th, 2008, 01:58 PM
I've got to agree with Lamb's thinking here. This woman is 90 years old, and even if she lives to be 100, how much of a pain could it possibly be to care for her hair?

Admittedly, my perspective may be a bit tweaked. I care for my 21 year old profoundly handicapped daughter. I bathe her like I would bathe a toddler, except that she cannot sit independently in the bathtub (she uses a special chair). I wash her hair and care for it daily. And I will do these things until I am no longer physically able to do so (and I'll be a really old woman by then). My thoughts on this??? SO WHAT. Do these things that I do improve my daughter's quality of life, and so mine too in the process? I think so. That's enough for me.

In doing kindness for others, you bring good back onto yourself.

frizzinator
May 5th, 2008, 02:14 PM
I understand how an old person's odd behavior will wear out your patience. I haven't got this method down perfectly, but what I try to do is to humor the old person.

For example, when mom tells me about something outrageous that my 87 year old father has done to her (like leaving the door unlocked all day, or not buying the right brand of jello at the supermarket), I just go along with her and ask questions about it or say things like "Did he really do that?" Dad knows what I'm doing, and he just grins during this conversation. And mom is so happy that someone is listening to her.

I know it sounds more simple than it actually works out to be in real life, but just asking them questions and trying to joke with them seems to make everything more pleasant.

They really love it when you ask them questions, so I try to do it all the time, even when I don't want to hear anymore, but especially when they are upset ....it seems to help them to try to express themselves to someone who seems to be listening.

Ursula
May 5th, 2008, 02:25 PM
I do not think that any pressure should be put on the caregiving cousin to sacrifice her own hair for the sake of the mother she is caring for. This woman is already making a huge sacrifice to take on this responsibility. She is giving her time, she is giving her energy. Should she now be told to give her own hair, as well?

If you are dependent, part of your responsibility is to ease the burden on those who care for you - particularly if they are caring for you out of the goodness of their hearts, rather than being paid to do what you tell them.

You might suggest things she could do to make the job of hair care easier, such as keeping the hair in two braids much of the time. Or if you think that your aunt's hair is that important, go over there and do the care-work yourself. But if it is a matter of the cousin spending her (limited) time caring for her mother on hair, versus other necessities such as bathing, cooking, etc. hair is expendable, in a way that food and hygine isn't.

Lamb
May 5th, 2008, 02:29 PM
My mom used to take care of her sister before but we had some health issues & she had to come her to help us out. So my cousin is completely taking care of her & she is overwhelmed with a lot more than just hair. She does have some help but not enough. My aunt has been very independent all her life & cared for all of us in the family. But you know how people that old are....they are sometimes like children:rolleyes: She keeps forgetting that her hair is done, she unbraids her hair every hour & calls her daughter to oil it or braid it. She doesn't let anybody else touch her hair which is another issue. She suspects that my cousing cuts off a little of her hair everytime she combs & keeps complaining to anyone that will listen. Now normally you would not mind it but when you are overwhelmed with a lot of things you tend to react & it brings out the worst in you. Also she wants her hair to be washed only with shikakai & refuses to use any shampoo. So it's a lot of things that seemed to have tired out my cousin.

Oh dear. That does seem complicated. I am not a gerontologist but I have grown up among old people and I have seen fights like this - because to me, it does seem like a fight.
Your aunt was an independent, caring, strong woman all her life. Now she is in a dependent situation and old people who can no longer care for themselves will often turn defensive and suspicious, always on the lookout. They feel vulnerable, plain and simple, even if it is their own child who is caring for them. Your aunt has chosen the hair to fight about.

Your cousin is exhausted - and the emotional stress this fight is causing is far worse for her than backpain. I feel for her, but still, I do believe that cutting your aunt's hair would make things a lot worse in this situation.

Think of it this way: a toddler wants to wear her favorite shoes every time you go somewhere, even if they are not right for the weather or the occasion. Would it solve the problem to throw her shoes out? Or, a teenager thinks you hate her boyfriend because you are jealous or anything. Would it work to forbid the boyfriend to enter the house? No, it would only justify the daughter's crazy suspicion.

If your aunt is so defensive about her hair, cutting it off would only add to the emotional stress in her relationship with your cousin. The consequences are pretty much unpredictable, really, but I warrant they could only get worse.

Would it help to divert your aunt's attention away with new faces/new objects? She is more likely to fix her attention and fears on her hair when she is bored. She is, as you say, like a child, and monotony is about the worst thing for a moody child.

That said: I really feel for you and your family. I have seen cases like this - many of them in my own extended family, we are an elderly lot with huge generation gaps. Family life is beautiful, but it surely has its sore points.

angelthadiva
May 5th, 2008, 02:39 PM
God bless your cousin for taking care of your Aunt! It really takes a special person to take on that task...

I have grandparents who are nearing 90, myself...And not trying to be funny, but older people are funny about their stuff...They are very set in their ways, they like stuff a certain way and they don't like their stuff messed with.

I'm glad your cousin's daughter decided to go a little shorter...You didn't indicate ages for anyone but your Aunt, but unless your cousin's daughter is a little girl, she should be doing her own hair...I began doing my own hair when I was young, probably 10 or so (at least brushing)...I probably began styling and ready for going out in public after my styling at 11 or 12 at the latest...So, if she's older than that, she can do her own hair. :D

As much as possible, I'd try to let your Aunt live out the rest of her life in as much peace as I could. Tomorrow is not a promise, enjoy her for as long as she's here...In the big scheme of things if she were gone tomorrow, the hair would be the last think you all would think about. :flowers: