12.06.2008

Elder Care; Edler Abuse

In answer to a post I made on Community Comment on Elder Abuse here, and to Stickman’s reply at Huckleberries (see right hand panel to check out Huckleberries):

This subject is a sore one for me. Anywhere else in this world and they don't have such facilities. The families just take care of the elderly and treat them with respect and honor that is due them. Is that all I have to say on this, Yes! Fire away, I'm ready.
Posted by the stickman | 5 Dec 8:36 PM


Stickman, I so agree. As I get older, the more I am aware that the way we care for elderly is sorely inadequate. Families are more disparate, careers take precedence in the priority chain, children are moving far, far away leaving parents to spend their last years in isolation. When these parents are unable to care for themselves, they either die or they are entered into a nursing home.

My mother-in-law (well, my significant other’s (Lovey) mother) had a very debilitating stroke in May 2005. The hospital required that she be moved out to a nursing home within two weeks. We never intended for her to be in a nursing home. However, Medicare covered 100 days of nursing home care for her, which was badly needed – she was paralyzed, had a colostomy, feeding tube, breathing tube, and extremely short term memory. She needed skilled nursing until we could manage all the different care needs on our own.

The care was adequate but not quality. We sat vigil in shifts so that one of us was with her all the time. It was hard to do. I have a day job and so there were periods of time neither one of us could be with her. One Saturday morning I arrived for the day and discovered her laying in urine. How can that happen!!! What about the people who have no family members checking on them?

At the end of the 100 days, Lovey moved into her home and fixed her bedroom to accommodate all the critical health needs and we brought her home in September. We had very little outside help. It was 24/7 and we relieved each other in care duties. Besides all her health needs, we did physical therapy with her. Our hopes were that she would improve enough to stand on her own and be able to transfer from her bed to her wheelchair. I would help her with mind games, reading, math – to keep her mind active.

When we got her home, she was 88 pounds, weak, unable to stand or move. The first night home, we had her in a rocker recliner and she was able to rock herself Рa monumental achievement in just twelve hours after 100 days of nothing. By Christmas we had her up to her normal 100 pounds. She was able to feed herself pur̩ed food (Cream of Wheat, applesauce, soft scrambled eggs).

In the three years we had her at home, she was content and comfortable. She never reached the point of being able to transfer herself, but I believe with all my heart that our care for her gave her the quality of life she deserved. Had we left her in the nursing home, she would have died in a few weeks.

In the ideal world, yes, it would be nice if families extended to keep parents and grandparents in the fold. That is only natural, I believe. But times are changing and children grow up and distance themselves from their parents, moving out of the city, even out of the country. I hate it! What can we do? As I get older, my retirement is looking less golden and my care as I get more feeble is fading fast!

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