Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Poor Mom

My mother's had a couple of falls in the last month because her knee is giving out. Years ago she was hit by a car while crossing Main Street. She got fitted for a new brace while I was visiting two days ago, but it is a monster brace that goes from hip through foot, locking her leg.

She's in better shape mentally than her phone calls would indicate. Over the three days when I was visiting we had many laughs. But her world has shrunk so much. They had her bed wired with a buzzer so she wouldn't try to get out of bed in the night without help. But everytime we laughed or she moved her hands while talking the buzzer went off. Now they have a different system set up that's less big brother.

She said she wishes she'd never taken vitamin pills in the 70's and 80's. Her basic health is quite good but her vision and hearing are not. At present she's stuck on her bed except when she's wheeled to the dining room. And you should hear the silence in the dining room.

I don't think I want to write more about it here. In six days I visited two top drawer senior homes. The one in Florida is much fancier than my mother's, but hers is also nationally recognized for its superior health care and grounds, started in the 1970's, run by Quakers. Both places advertise in the Princeton Alum weekly, my brother told me.

Both places are encountering big problems: they need fresh blood, as in new residents. At the Florida retirement resort 100 spaces are empty out of about 600, where formerly there was a long waiting list. The problem is the fresh blood can't sell their houses to put down the big down payments. And people are living longer, and spending longer parts of their lives in Assisted Living. The huge number of skilled and vetted nurses needed costs these places a lot. Another problem that's going to hit us old baby boomers.


stray said...

I'm sorry it was so sad to see your mom suffering but so glad you had some laughs.

Namowal said...

Sorry to hear about your Mom. That has to be hard on her to be stuck in the bed, especially when she's used to getting around more. Do they offer any activities or diversions there? Everyone needs company and something to do. I'm glad she had fun when you visited.
I heard about older people stuck stuck in houses they couldn't sell because of the economy. Such a shame, considering they "played by the rules" and lived and planned responsibly. Then the economy hit the tank and ruined everything.

stray said...

Maybe some of the newly unemployed who are losing their homes can move into the homes of the elderly and care for them in exchange for room and board. My grandfather took in boarders during the Depression.

Sally said...

We may start seeing boarding houses again, but in the long ago days board included cooked dinners where everyone ate together. Can't imagine that now.

Namowal, they keep her busy with fitness classes and physical therapy, but it's no fun being so dependent on nursing care.

Linda said...

That is a great image/photo. Is it one of your old dolls?

In my mom's assisted living apt, there was an emergency buzzer on the wall by the kitchen. Every time I'd lean against the wall, I'd inadvertently lean on the button --but it was silent on our end so I wouldn't realize it--I can't tell you how many times 2 CNA's would come rushing in during my visits.

I read this last night and thought it said: "She said she wishes she'd taken vitamin pills in the 70's and 80's" but I just realized she said she wished she HADN'T. Why?

Does she like to read?

Sally said...

Linda, yes, that's one of my mother's mammy dolls. It's a kind of toy that walks along any slanted board, with stiff legs just like my mom has in her brace.

That silent alarm is just like the one we had to deal with, but it wasn't entirely silent. Just came with the surprise visitors.

She reads the New Yorker and the newspaper, but her eyes are giving her a lot of trouble.

sg said...

She is so sharp to still be reading the New Yorker! Mom's got macular degeneration but still reads some novels; Dad couldn't even read a newspaper the last several years of his life.

Sally said...

stray, my mother has macular d. too. I learned from an eye doctor that it's not an inherited disease, rather something that is likely to occur when you're old. My brother came by to see her today and wore a suit which absolutely made her day as she has a great aversion to denim aka dungarees.

Mean Jean said...

We just an email from Mr. Mean's sister. Their mother is going to have to move to full nursing home as she is now getting very confused. She suffers from dementia and has lived in assisted living for 4 years.