I hope you are all happy, healthy and unstressed.
For the past three weeks I full-time cared for my mother, Diane (soon-to-be 92). If you read my last blog you know that. Mom has returned to her house with the help of my sister and her husband. Glory be to God.
Geriatric care reminds me of toddler care. You can’t let either out of your sight but one you can control, the other you can’t. Both take particular knowledge and patience. Toddler tending is relatively easy as it’s afforded by motherly instinct. Geriatric care arrives with no inherent instinct. Put it this way, there’s a reason elder care is a thriving business.
Unlike welcoming a baby home from the hospital, bringing an elder home from the hospital is complicated. A child easily adapts to drills, routines...how it’s going to be. Elders not so much. Most people are set in their ways by their 30s. Imagine how cemented you will be in the 90s?
Recap: I stopped by my mom's house 3 ½ weeks ago and rushed her to an ER due to a fast moving infection indicated by a thick, red line that was half-way up her arm. Post-surgery, the surgeon commented that getting her on a big gun antibiotic that evening probably saved her life.
I understood that mom needed medical attention immediately. The ER admitted her poste haste upon arrival. I also understood that I would be by her side, at the hospital, throughout treatment and recovery. I did the above instinctively, as anyone would do for a toddler or anyone else.
What I don’t understand is how/why mom was discharged to my house, under my care, for three weeks. A toddler discharged to home after surgery is easy to comprehend. “Youth” is on the side of a patient's recovery from injury or illness. Geriatric recovery has variables, idiosyncrasies, that call for expertise to avoid further decline.
Suddenly, I was a post-surgery-elder nurse with no RN after my name. Wound care 3x day for 5 days, three balanced meals, proper bedding, bathing, exercise, support -- all the while having no idea what the heck I was doing. What I knew for sure was that my heart pounded when I went to bed and was still pounding when I woke up... if I had the pleasure of waking up because many nights I didn't sleep a wink.
When I caught my breath, I did research on how to care for elders. Here’s a snippet of what I found regarding how to best care for senior patients:
Consider patients preferences and their needs - I put much consideration into what mom preferred and needed. But, as time went by I heard my heart calling out my desires. Praying in bed at night, asking God to guide the way, I thanked him for the gut-wretching struggle to keep mom going, comfortable. The honor of serving elderly parents is a delicate balance of heaven and hell -- like other invaluable experiences.
Be kind, patient, and sympathetic towards them - During the “wound healing” process I was a pretty good nurse. But, after mom healed my brother, sister, and I worked tirelessly to come up with a future, secure living situation for her. Our efforts mostly failed. Dear Lord, hear my prayer: Prudence, Patience & Peace.
Support their decision-making skill and encourage them for independence in making choices for themselves - Magnificently, I failed at this one. Wanting desperately to give mom optimum care going forward meant having her close to our home, in "independent" living. This was a gargantuan desire for me. However, what I wanted was not what she wanted. I/we had to surrender. Dear Lord hear my prayer to keep her safe.
Help adults to achieve emotional stability - Bringing a new baby home is emotionally charged for all. Entering elder-care years is likewise emotionally amped. But unlike a baby that can be "formed," when parents enter "tender years," they do so with embeded, complex, dynamics of which...lets face it...can't be re-formed.
Mom is home safe sound where she wants to be. I/we pray for her safety, health, and most of all the presence of the Lord in her soul and mind. "Tender times" are a natural part of life just like having a baby. We (American society) aren't well-prepared when elder care arrives (in the blink of an eye). May we all do the best we can with Eternal Life in our sight through Him.
Give Diane a call, she’d love to hear from her friends and family.
Thank you for reading.