Egg Lady from Iowa Develops a Unique Strategy for Coping with Frustration

Caregiver Speaker Elaine K Sanchez talks about frustrationEvery caregiver needs to develop a strategy for coping with frustration and anger.  I talked about this last week when I did a presentation for the new Willamette Gerontology Network in Corvallis, Oregon.

I shared one of my favorite stories about the “Egg Lady from Iowa”, a little wirey older woman I met a few years ago when I spoke in Sioux City, Iowa at an Alzheimer’s Conference.  The “Egg Lady” came up to me after my presentation and said, “My anger management program requires two dozen eggs a day.”

Naturally I was intrigued, so I asked her to explain.

She said, “I live on an egg farm. Every morning when I go out to collect the eggs, I set aside two dozen for myself. Then at 3:56 I walk out to the tracks and wait for the train. If it’s a long train, I take aim and try to hit the logos on each boxcar. If it’s a short one, I throw the eggs really, really fast.”

I laughed until I cried thinking about her standing next to the tracks and pelleting a train with eggs every day.  I’ve also wondered how the conductor felt. He must have thought she really hated trains!

I tell this story because I think it’s important for people to understand that everyone needs a strategy for coping with the frustration and anger that comes with caregiving.

The “Egg Lady from Iowa” didn’t dislike the train that went by her farm. It was just a handy target. We must try to remember that there will be days when our care receivers are agitated, upset, or in pain. On those days, they may act badly.

If you have a day when you feel like you are getting attacked unfairly, it might help to remember that there will be times when you do everything right, but you are simply in the wrong place at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Some days you’re the train.