When last you left Annie Oakley, although her hip fractures were healing well, she had decided to forego her rehabilitation program, explaining that she was tired at 93 years of age and, happy to rest in the bed and be taken care of. Fair enough, many of us said, adding that we likely will feel that way at that age. However, Annie’s behaviour seemed completely out of character. You see, throughout most of her life Annie was full of energy, as she looked down on those who did not share her character. But, she had made her choice and was sticking to it!
During the intervening time since you’ve last had a glimpse of Annie, Annie has received many visitors, all reporting pretty much the same conversations recited by our patient. Throughout this time Annie’s food intake has been such that it is hard to believe that she continues to function.
Her mind remains pretty sharp, though, and just recently she threw out a curve ball, by asking about plans for Christmas and assuming that she would be involved. Based on her assumption that she was capable to get up from the bed and travel, we at once realized that Annie perhaps doesn’t clearly comprehend that her actions carry direct consequences. Informed by my experiences with my own parents, along with the experiences of others, Annie’s son carefully and kindly reminded her that she can no longer stand or walk on her own, and that she is moved with the aid of a sling and the health care providers in the hospital. As they continued to explore options that would allow Annie to attend the Christmas festivities, we felt that while she understood the situation, she remained surprised. That evening over dinner we continued to discuss the options; none became plausible, with us visiting Annie in the hospital looking like our best bet.
My hope is that those of you caring for aging and/or ailing elders will be more prepared to address these situations should they arrive during this holiday season, and beyond. I also hope that my continued accounting of Annie’s situation proves helpful, as so many of us stumble through our family caregiving jaunt.
Yours in Caregiving,