Saturday, July 22, 2006

Eldercare, Part Two

Whew! I am back home, and we got Great Aunt Lou placed in an assisted living retirement community. As miserable as she was at home, she didn't want to go. I meant "the end of the road" for her, and she had a very difficult time confronting this. I can't say I blame her, but we encouraged her to reframe it as a transition rather than a funeral. Thank God she has enough money to be in a place where they will spoil her. I would hate to have to leave her somewhere that was awful. Its all because of compound interest. She just lived long enough for it to accrue.

It was the first time I was involved in the care of an elder. It was an eye-opening experience. And a very valuable one. I really saw how our decisions and habits create our future. By her own admission she was not very flexible. She hadn't moved in 50 years. She said everything was so much harder when you are 92. She had no sense of how fortunate she is. She is healthy, can hear and see and walk and had a network of friends and neighbors looking after her. They are the ones that called us and said we needed to intervene.

This got me thinking about community. What an amazing thing to have neighbors looking in on her every day! Frankly, her community was appalled that her family had not stepped in already. But we had been trying to convince her to move to a retirement community for 20 years. What can you do when they say no?

It probably helped that there was two of us. We played "good cop, bad cop." I got to be good cop since I hadn't been dealing with her all my life. I didn't have a backlog of frustration to deal with. But by then end of our visit, when she said we were kicking her out of her house, I reached the end of my patience. We were doing everything in our power to protect her, but she couldn't see that.

It brought home the importance of getting my will, living will, trusts, power of attorney, etc. together. Fortunately these were all in place. One less hurdle to cross when the time comes.

She is a Depression baby. It is really hard for her to spend money on herself. But what was she saving it for? She is 92 for Heaven's sake!

She was a natural recycler. She saved all of the plastic packaging she encountered. On the one had I wanted to toss it all (we stuffed it in recycle bags) and on the other hand I appreciated her valuing of the durable things (plastics, especially) that we throw away. They are so over engineered. A grocery bag is used once, but will live 1000 years. Crazy.

She lived in the neighborhood for 50 years. She new some of her neighbors before they were born. Out of that comes a certain loyalty. One of her neighbors cried when we told her she was gone.

I am pretty much exhausted. Was on the road for 15 hours today. I am going to the beach in Florida for a week to recuperate. Then I'm off to Minnesoota to visit Mr. Logan's family. So please excuse me if I don't post much. I will do what I can until life settles down again.

Monday, July 10, 2006


My great aunt is 92 and doesn't have any kids of her own, so helping her out falls upon my mom, her sister, and me. All four of us live in different states, so we are in the process of sorting out who can do what. Right now I am on the road, making my way to Chicago with my aunt. We would like to get her moved into an assisted living situation, as she is starting to have paranoid delusions. It might be dementia, or it might just be that she is dehydrated. But in any case, if she continues to call the police every day they might have her taken to the hospital, evaluated, and then declared incompetent and placed in care that someone else chooses.

So our goal is to convince her to exercise her choice while she still can.

I keep imagining myself in her shoes. What would it be like to give up your home of 50 years, and go live in an institution? What would it be like to know that you are never coming home again?

None of my grandparents needed this kind of care. They all died at home. So it is new territory for my family.

We did find a great resource for you to file away in case you might need it some day. It was put together by the National Institute on Aging, which is a part of the National institute on Health. It is specifically for those giving
long distance care. It offers a helpful perspective for those of us who don't live in community with our elders.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Comparing the Scenarios about Peak Oil

I've had this link in my "future blog topics" file for a while. presents the range of assumptions about our oil situation and their corresponding predictions about our future.
This site provides a general introduction to the peak oil debate by providing an overview of five general scenarios for the future of oil and, in the minds of many, scenarios for the future of our society!
The author divides the continuum into five categories: Pollyanna, Optimistic, Plateau, Pessimistic, and Head for the Hills. As I read through them, I realized that I fell into the Pessimistic category, and should probably disclose that somewhere on my blog. If I examined my fears, they would fall into the Head for the Hills category, but I don't have the energy or stamina for that, so I am just crossing my fingers and hoping that a Pessimistic attitude is realistic enough.

Actually if I look at my behavior in terms of preparedness, I am acting like a Pollyannist. Hmm. I guess that is a question for everybody: are you congruent between your point of view and your actions? And if you are not, what kind of support do you need to get yourself where you want to be?