Welcome Visitor: Login to the siteJoin the site



Independant living and the challenges of the elderly


Submitted:Mar 15, 2012    Reads: 67    Comments: 1    Likes: 2   


"FOOD FOR THOUGHT"

GEORGE PETRIE - LONGBOAT KEY, FLORIDA

SHE HAD BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH "MILD DEMENTIA" OF THE ALZHEIMER'S VARIETY. THE PROGNOSIS, AS ALWAYS, WAS POOR BUT SHE WAS STILL ABLE TO LIVE SOMEWHAT INDEPENDENTLY AT HOME.

EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS ALONE, SOMEONE IN HER FAMILY WOULD VISIT HER EVERY DAY TO MAKE SURE THAT HER BASIC NEEDS WERE BEING MET AND THAT SHE WAS SAFE. THEY WANTED HER TO GO TO AN ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY BT THEY KNEW THAT THE TRAUMA OF REMOVING HER FROM HER HOME OF MANY YEARS WOULD BE DEVASTATING.

WHENEVER THEY WOULD BROACH THE SUBJECT SHE WOULD BEG THEM NOT TO TAKE HER AWAY FROM HER HOME WHICH WAS THE ONLY SAFE PLACE SHE HAD LEFT IN LIFE. SHE AND HER HUSBAND HAD RAISED A FAMILY IN THIS HOME. SHE HAD TAKEN CARE OF HER HUSBAND HERE UNTIL THE DAY HE DIED. THEY HAD PLANTED ALL OF THE TREES, FLOWERS AND SHRUBS IN THE YARD AND THE PLACE WAS LIKE A SCRAPBOOK OF HER HAPPY LIFE.

I WAS ASKED TO GO TO THE HOME AND MAKE AN ASSESSMENT. THE QUESTION WAS, COULD SHE CONTINUE TO STAY HERE OR WOULD SOME SORT OF INTERVENTION HAVE TO BE TAKEN, IN ORDER TO FIND PROFESSIONAL PLACEMENT IN A LONG TERM CARE FACILITY.

AS DIFFICULT AS IT WAS FOR THE PATIENT, IT WAS ALSO EXTREMELY EMOTIONAL FOR ME AS I WAS THE PERSON ASSIGNED TO DECIDE THEIR IMMEDIATE DESTINY. I WAS THE PERSON WHO HAD TO SAY WHETHER OR NOT THEY WOULD HAVE TO MOVE TO UNFAMILIAR SURROUNDINGS. IT WAS NEVER AN EASY DECISION BUT ONE THAT HAD TO BE MADE IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PATIENT.

I HAD MET WITH HER ONCE BEFORE, IN HER HOME, JUST TO INTRODUCE MYSELF AND EXPLAIN MY ROLE IN HER CARE PLAN. THE HOME WAS NEAT AND ORDERLY AND THERE WERE NO OBVIOUS SIGNS OF NEGLECT.

SHE PRESENTED AS A CLEAN, REASONABLY HEALTHY OLDER WOMAN WHO, DESPITE SOME CONFUSION, HAD A DAILY ROUTINE THAT INCLUDED PERSONAL HYGIENE, READING, WATCHING TELEVISION AND GOING INTO HER BACK YARD TO ENJOY THE FLOWERS AND PLANTS. SHE ENTHUSIASTICALLY SHOWED ME AROUND THE PROPERTY AND TOLD ME THE SPECIES NAMES OF ALL OF THE TREES, PLANTS AND SHRUBS.

DURING THAT FIRST VISIT SHE INVITED ME TO JOIN HER AND HAVE A CUP OF TEA. SHE PREPARED THE TEA FOR BOTH OF US AND SERVED IT WITH A PLATE OF SUGAR COOKIES THAT SHE HAD IN HER KITCHEN CUPBOARD.

WHILE OUTWARD APPEARANCES MADE EVERYTHING SEEM "NORMAL", SHE DID TEND TO REPEAT HER STORIES AND, BEFORE LEAVING, SHE ASKED ME IF I WANTED TO SEE HER BACKYARD. I HAD BEEN THERE FOR ALMOST AN HOUR AND SHE HAD FORGOTTEN THAT WE HAD ALREADY TOURED THE PROPERTY.

THE MAJOR CONCERN OF HER FAMILY WAS WHETHER OR NOT SHE WAS GETTING ENOUGH NOURISHMENT. THEY WERE CONCERNED ABOUT A RATHER DRAMATIC WEIGHT LOSS THAT HAD OCCURRED OVER THE PAST YEAR.

AS PART OF MY ASSESSMENT I ASKED HER IF I COULD LOOK IN HER REFRIGERATOR AND CUPBOARDS. I EXPLAINED THAT I NEEDED TO BE ASSURED THAT SHE HAD AN ADEQUATE SUPPLY OF FOOD AND COMESTIBLES TO KEEP HER COMFORTABLE. SHE EAGERLY AGREED AND TOOK ME TO THE REFRIGERATOR AND OPENED THE DOOR. THE FREEZER WAS WELL STOCKED WITH PLASTIC BAGS OF PREPARED MEALS. EACH BAG WAS LABELED AS TO ITS' CONTENTS AND APPEARED TO BE A COMPLETE MEAL THAT SOMEONE HAD CAREFULLY PREPARED FOR HER. SHE EXPLAINED TO ME THAT, EACH WEEK, HER DAUGHTER WOULD BRING THESE MEALS OVER AND PLACE THEM IN THE FREEZER. THIS WAY SHE DID NOT HAVE TO COOK BUT SIMPLY PLACE THE BAG IN THE MICROWAVE. COOKING TIMES WERE CAREFULLY INDICATED ON EACH ITEM.

HERE WAS A FAMILY THAT TRULY TOOK CARE OF THEIR MOTHER. HERE WAS A MOTHER WHO WAS COMFORTABLE IN HER OWN HOME AND OBVIOUSLY WAS WELL TAKEN CARE OF.

MY ASSESSMENT WAS THAT SHE SHOULD STAY IN HER HOME. SHE HAD A HEALTHY ROUTINE AND ALL OF HER NEEDS WERE BEING MET. I WOULD SIMPLY HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO HER CHILDREN THAT THERE WAS NO UNDERLYING CAUSE OF HER WEIGHT LOSS, EXCEPT THAT SOME OF IT SHOULD SIMPLY BE ATTRIBUTED TO BONE DENSITY CHANGES AND MUSCLE TISSUE ATROPHY ASSOCIATED WITH AGING.

THREE WEEKS LATER I MADE ANOTHER HOME VISIT. I HAD BEEN ASKED TO MAKE MONTHLY VISITS TO ENSURE THAT THERE HAD NOT BEEN ANY MAJOR CHANGES IN HER STATUS.

I ARRIVED AT AROUND LUNCHTIME, INTENDING TO MAKE A SHORT VISIT, JUST LONG ENOUGH TO ASSURE MYSELF THAT I HAD MADE THE RIGHT DECISION.

SHE OPENED THE DOOR BUT DIDN'T SEEM TO RECOGNIZE ME. NOT UNUSUAL, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, SO I JUST RE-INTRODUCED MYSELF AND SHE INVITED ME IN. I FOLLOWED HER TO THE KITCHEN AND NOTICED THAT I HAD INTERRUPTED HER HAVING TEA AND CRACKERS. I SAT DOWN AT THE TABLE WITH HER AND ASKED HER HOW THINGS WERE GOING. "VERY WELL", SHE ANSWERED. "WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MY BACKYARD? IT'S REALLY BEAUTIFUL!"

I ACCOMPANIED HER TO THE YARD AND LET HER DESCRIBE IT TO ME AGAIN.

WHEN WE RETURNED TO THE KITCHEN, I SAID MY GOODBYES AND TURNED TO WALK OUT. SOMETHING CAUGHT MY EYE ON THE COUNTER BY THE SINK. I IMMEDIATELY RECOGNIZED IT AS SEVERAL BAGS OF THE FROZEN MEALS THAT I HAD SEEN IN THE FREEZER. I WALKED OVER AND PICKED ONE UP, JUST TO CONFIRM WHAT I WAS SEEING. I ASKED HER WHAT THEY WERE AND WITHOUT HESITATION SHE SAID "THOSE ARE SOME OF THE MEALS THAT MY DAUGHTER BRINGS OVER FOR ME". "WHY DO YOU HAVE THEM SITTING OUT ON THE COUNTER?" i ASKED. "WELL", SHE SAID, "i CAN'T EAT THEM......I'VE TRIED BUT THEY ARE TOO HARD TO CHEW". "DON'T YOU PUT THEM IN THE MICROWAVE?" I INQUIRED. " I DON'T REMEMBER HOW TO USE IT. I JUST HAVE MY TEA AND CRACKERS...THAT'S ALL I REALLY WANT. I THROW THE BAGS IN THE TRASH OUTSIDE SO THAT MY DAUGHTER'S FEELINGS DON'T GET HURT!"

NO ONE EVER KNEW. I NEVER TOLD ANYONE. SHE WAS HAPPY. SHE WAS HEALTHY FOR 92 YEARS OLD. SHE DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES SIX MONTHS LATER. SHE DIED IN HER SLEEP, IN THE BED, IN THE HOME; HER SAFE NEST THAT HAD PROTECTED HER FOR SO MANY YEARS.





2

| Email this story Email this Short story | Add to reading list



Reviews

About | News | Contact | Your Account | TheNextBigWriter | Self Publishing | Advertise

© 2013 TheNextBigWriter, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Privacy Policy.