Sunday, November 17, 2013

Elder care

My grandmother turned 90 years old in August. I made an attempt to make it festive and cheerful. Honor the milestone and give her something she never had, a party of some sorts.
I got her balloons, decorations, gifts, cupcakes the works.
I will wrap up this portion of the story by saying none of her children came, she has five, none of them called and she was a pain in the butt grumpy, nothing is good enough, old lady as she almost always is. I was almost in tears but I made the best of it. She has early signs of Alzheimer's mixed with old age, she was never one to be very sweet with her words or actions as most of us think grandmothers should be. So I should not expect her to be any different now and neither should her children. I mean we don't change as we age we only become more intense in who we are.

Aside from her home attendants, I am the only grandchild and only person who really visits with her, calls her does all the things needed to be done. In January I had to make the necessary arrangements with her bank to take over her account because it was getting to be too much for her to go with her attendant. She was forgetting how to sign her name and she was not able to tell the difference between certain bill amounts. It was heart breaking to see her trying to remember the letters in her name. We were blessed to have such an amazing woman at the bank help us. She was loving and patient and funny and dealt with my grandmother’s rudeness with kindness in return. Two hours later we were successful in making the transition.

My visits with her for the most part are draining and sad. On some occasions they are downright brutal. I leave there feeling like I just went a few rounds with Mike Tyson. It takes me several hours sometimes even over a day to get back to my old self. I tend not to really talk much afterwards and I become very somber in mood and spirit. I turn to Meditation and Yoga for help.

I have seen, read and observed so many ways people deal with the elderly. I never gave it much thought myself till I had to be so heavily involved with my grandmother. It takes a lot of energy, patients, strength, time, effort and love. It takes empathy.

In her case it's her attitude most of all and her outlook on life that makes it even more difficult. I am sure there are others like her, ones the kids can't handle. Ones that make it hard for you to look past their treatment of you and just stick it out. But for the most part grandparents are supposed to bring to mind fond memories of baking, sewing, arts and crafts, camping trips and holiday dinners.
I have come to understand that a lot of little things come into play on why our elderly’s treatment of us can become so difficult. Aside from their basic personalities we also have to take into consideration their medical issues and loneliness. Some of them spend a lot of time alone thinking, worrying, remembering and if in good mind, planning. Loneliness can be a slow killer.

In most cultures and in other countries for the most part, the elderly are revered as the wise. They are taken in, respected and cared for.  They are cherished and looked upon as those who paved the way for their families. They are the ones who kept it all together and when they no longer are able to do that they are still respected and made comfortable.

I find that in the US things are not as such. We rely on senior facilities, nursing homes, home attendants and so forth to do those jobs for us. We tend to treat our seniors poorly at times and show a lack of respect totally unwarranted. We almost discard them and treat them as a nuisance.

My grandmother’s attitude has always been an issue but perhaps if her children had been more involved over the years her quality of life today would be better. I am sure if we found more positive ways to handle our elderly their lives and their contributions would also have value.

We all age; we will all be that old women or old man at the store or crossing the street.
Let's start to change our attitudes and start working now while we are still young to insure that our loved ones will be able to care for us, tolerate us and even still love us.

Let's start now preparing and building a better quality of life.


6 comments:

  1. I posted a long comment last night but it seems to have disappeared.
    I wanted to say, I used to work in home care for the elderly.
    There was this one woman I still remember. She and her son lived in the same apartment complex, yet he never came to see her, never called. He was her only child, and her apartment was plastered with framed pictures of him. He was her only topic of conversation. She loved him so much.
    She died at 99. I always wondered if her son even came to her funeral.
    My grandmother on my father's side was not a very maternal type. We always thought of her as "the mean grandma".
    Yet, when dementia set in, and she became rather silly and childish acting, we really missed her stern nature. It's difficult to accept that change in character.
    Elder care can be a very difficult thing, and kudos to you for doing the hard thing, but also the right thing.

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    1. Wow, thanks for sharing and for commenting. I will continue to do my best to keep her safe and comfortable for as long as she is with me. As I said thank heavens I have options I use to make things better. On the days she is nice I totally immerse myself in her laughter because she does have her moments :), thanks again for visit.

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  2. 90, she's made it far, my grand mom who I grew up with and left at the age of 18 died last year at the ripe old age of 99. She was the best grand mom ever but she had a rough life married at 16 bearing 10 kids. Leaving her husband eventually and raising 8 kids on her own(twins passed away when they were a year). In the last 6 months of her life it was torture for six living kids. She called them names, forbid them to have anything to do with here and continually told them to get out her house, it was crazy. What's strange is that she treated us her grand and great-grand children with utmost respect, loving as always and wanted us always around her always, the complete opposite. God rest her soul but the last year of her life, the family tried to take care of her but it really felt she returned to being a baby again. It was hard to see a woman of strength unable to do anything for herself. As much as we were sadden by her death, it was a blessing for us God taking her out of the pain.

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    1. Thanks for share Camii. I tell you it is truly something not pleasant to go through on some days. I guess their struggles in life at later age some how has bought out these tudes smh...

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  3. I'm so glad you visited my blog today, because I was able to find you and this post. As you already know, we threw a 100th birthday party for my grandmother over the weekend. And although it was really joyous, this whole ride hasn't been easy. She's in a nursing home which we have always been dead set against, but her needs were too great for my parent's large, two story house. And they both work. We make it a point to visit her when we're in town, and my mom sees her every day.
    I think a lot about it could be my mom in 30 years, and me in 60 years or so. It changes everything to think about how we will all age, and that's if we're lucky!

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    1. Tamara I felt the same way when I found you on my email!! I was so happy to read your story because it was a sweet one all in all. At least you and your family will always have that memory and great pictures to show for it. Thank you for your visit and your comments. Hope to see you again :)

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