While Annie Oakley supplies us with very interesting stories, the far less feisty Katie-Mom and her experience of aging also can give us learning experiences. In the case of Katie, her caregivers were totally and completely without experience, and totally clueless to know what was going on and what to do about it, even if we figured out that some sort of intervention was needed.
Most certainly, Katie fulfilled her Chinese horoscope sign of being a rabbit…a scared one. While she was strong as an ox in her own environment, removed from it her fear became evident, even on her face. And, once we removed her from her own environment, a move unavoidable given that the local airport expropriated her property, the look of fear almost never left her face. From the moment Katie arrived in British Columbia with my brother and his family, I knew we’d erred in bringing her out here to live. However, in doing so, Katie would be living close to her two youngest children; the ones most prepared to provide her care. But, I will never forget that look of terror that day. Part of my fear stemmed from the fact that in moving Katie close to two of her four children, we also removed her from extended family and friends and a community she’d known her entire life.
Recently I had occasion to talk with a friend who works in the field of care provision, who has come to several conclusions about physical moves made later in life. Her theory is that by the age of 65 (A figure I’d extend to 70), we all should make a move from our current homes, especially if these homes have been long term ones. As an example, she told me of her conversations with her own parents, when they were in their late 60s, about choosing a single level home that was much smaller than they had and suited their needs in general. It also supplied them with wondrous parklands near by that provided them lovely spaces for strolling. Finally she got down to the root of their steadfast refusal to leave their long-tern home, which was, quite simply, that they’d lived there too long to make a change until they absolutely had to, which would involve a move to a care facility. And, based on my experiences with Katie, I wholeheartedly agree with her theory.
Given I have many Katie stories to share with you, given they can serve as learning experiences for ourselves and for anyone in a position to be interested in such matters, I’ll leave you now with this nugget of wisdom, but I promise to write further on the lessons I have learned from Katie, who spent far too much of her later life in fear.
Yours in caregiving,