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.


Anonymous said...

Hey Liz,

Thanks for sharing the Great Aunt Lou stories. How we care for our elders and how we care for our children have everything to do with community & sustainability....

Have a wonderful time in Florida & journey to Minnesota!

Chris Weaver

Michael Nurse said...

Hi Liz,

I was surfing through blogspot looking for news on elder care when I came across this article. I am doing some ongoing research for a website that I have built for one of my clients. Their company has JUST begun operations (they haven't actually even begun to market it... we just completed the website for them.)

Anyway, they have a lot of great information for anyone who is taking care of an elder from the perspective of a Geriatric Care Manager with over 30 years of experience both in the field and as a professor.

Here's a link to the site, I'd love to know what you think.



Liz Logan said...

Thanks Chris!