[Ed Note: Today’s Guest Post comes from Leigh Davies, my mother, a C.M.A. and a 24 year veteran of the property management industry]
I have had a most stressful last 5 days. My parents-in-law, Bill and Hilda are both nearing their 80th birthday, and are still living in their own 5 bedroom house. Both are in fragile health, but have previously resisted our suggestions to relocate them. It all came to a head on Monday night when Hilda fell and broke her arm near her shoulder. Unfortunately, this break can’t be put in a cast, and is immobilized with a sling and a wrap-around her body contraption. This means no cooking, cleaning, dressing, driving, showering, and taking care of Bill. Obviously our family went into crisis mode. This meant I became chief cook and bottle washer. It also meant trying to be a nurse to Hilda until we could arrange more help.
Most of us are unaccustomed to witnessing the pain of others, but when you have to dress and undress someone with a broken arm, this seems inevitable. I found this the hardest part. The prescribed pain killers cause further mental confusion for her. (They also caused her to want to take off the sling and have a shower). I watched as each of the family members tried to come to grips with our situation. After 5 days of providing 16 hour a day care, we are pooped.
I jumped on the phones and called Capital Health, Meals on Wheels, social workers and the dialysis clinic where Bill is a patient three times a weeks. What a great group of people I spoke to! Their were understanding, professional, and caring. The most important person I called was at Canterbury Court, an assisted living facility here in west Edmonton. Thankfully, we were able to get an assessment of their needs done and get them a room for Wednesday.
I have learned a great deal from the last 5 days:
- Move before you have to. Don’t live in a house that is larger than you need. Aside from the obvious waste of money, it provides you with more space to put your junk.
- Move before you have to. As you age, change your living accommodations to fit you’re your needs. Don’t live in a house with the laundry downstairs, a bathroom with no support rails and is so small you can barely close the door, and stairs to the TV viewing area.
- Move before you have to. When the neighbours you used to know either die or move away, move to somewhere where there are people you own age, so you can socialize with them. Don’t become a hermit in your house. Create your own support network.
- Move before you have to, so your children won’t spend time worrying about your health and safety. Move before your children are forced into making decisions for you.
- Move into a place that nourishes you spirit, instead of a place that reminds you only of past glories and times gone by.
Finally, if you have aging parents, talk to them now. It would have been much less painful if the events of the past 5 days could have been avoided entirely.