When Our Elders Check Out

By Donna RandallUncategorizedWith 0 comments

I think I am safe to say that many of us have heard the adage that a broken hip in seniors most often is the beginning of the end. While this didn’t seem to be the case for Annie Oakley at the time she broke her hip and for about one week thereafter, things quickly began to change. Her bone fracture seemed innocent enough, with her simply stumbling over her cane, and within 45 minutes of the mishap she was taking a ride to the hospital. I have to say that I was impressed that within 12 hours a form of surgery was decided upon by the surgeon, and then approved by her caregivers, and set for very early in the morning. The next thing we knew, by 9 a.m. that next morning, she was recovering and the prognosis looked positive. I must confess that I am totally amazed that it looked like our Annie would be coming home, and in short order. In other words, it appeared that Annie had beaten the odds!

The next step in this process was that Annie needed to be discharged from the hospital where the surgery took place to one where she would embark upon her rehab journey, beginning with her eating well and beginning an exercise regimen. These exercises would start gently, and then progress toward more challenging moves to ensure she could return home, perhaps with some additional aids than she needed before this injury. And this is where and when the plan derailed, with Annie showing no initiative to do her exercises, and with her losing her will to eat. Yes, we realized she had been showing a decrease in appetite over the past year, but she seemed to have been so keen to recuperate after the fall that we both were quite shocked.

As the days rolled along, Annie began to complain about the terribly early hours of the morning when they awakened her for breakfast, and when I asked at what time that was and heard that she was referring to 6 a.m., I chucked and reminded Annie that for the past four years we were being awakened by her as she arose at anywhere between 5:45 and 6:15 a.m. I must say I was surprised by her reply to my remark, which was to have forgotten all about the days that took place before her fall. For sure Annie used all the down pat phrases that she had done for years, such as that she was absolutely fine, never had had an ache or a pain, ate a perfectly healthy diet, and got out into the garden daily. However, these were phrases she had used for decades, which had absolutely no bearing on reality.

So, here we are going on nine or ten weeks since Annie took her tumble, and all the predictions are taking place. Essentially, Annie does none of her planned exercises, eats as little as she can so that the hospital staff and her son will stop gaoling her to eat and simply leave her alone. Visiting Annie these days makes me feel as though I am a cast member in a play in the theatre of the absurd. Day after day the setting, duologue, and everything else remains unchanged, including Annie’s steadfast insistence that she has no complaints, that she eats what her body needs, and that all is well. And, who knows…perhaps she is right!

Yours in Caregiving…