Sunday, September 30, 2007

old age

for some reason, i've been thinking alot about old age, not mine necessarily, maybe that of my parents or their age demographic...

perhaps it began with my recent experience of being a "sandwich generation" person: caring for my mother and my young children. mom was really sick for six months or so and i was one of the closest to her. i really tried to be there to visit, encourage and care for her as much as possible. i really learned alot during that time. i learned how to keep things to myself, to let things go, to be ready for anything and to rely on God to give me the strength to care for those around me when i really wanted to be cared for.

then last week i spoke with an elderly friend who has a mother who is 101 and living in a nearby "home." she said that her mother lived on her own until 99 and then moved into a "home." she said the lack of stimulation (not running her own household) really did affect her and her health declined quickly. she is still doing pretty good for 101, but how much better might she be if her family had been able to care for her at home and keep her close by?

then we watched "Away from Her" the other night. a wonderful Canadian movie about alzeheimers. it was so touching to see two elderly people still interested in one another, still affectionate and even physically intimate (although we didnt "see" that part thankfully--i dont like watching sex scenes of any type in movies, personally!). it was sooo heartbreaking to see the wife transfer her affections to another man in the "home" because her husband was not allowed to see her for 30 days! 30 days earlier, they were so in love with one another, they totally completed each other, they were ONE for sure, and then a stupid policy meant that they could not be together for 30 days and she forgot him. she never really remembered him again. it was sooo sad. he gave her space, and was persistent and tried to wait for her to come around. he loved her so much. it broke my heart.

it made me wish and hope that i could (if it ever comes down to that in my own family), just use the money that it would cost for a home, to make a suite in our home and pay for a homecare nurse to come to our place. i hope i remember that later on in life when it seems like it would be more convenient to let someone go into a home. but seriously, if it shortens their life and totally changes who they are, yikes.

i feel weird thinking about these things when i'm not even 30 yet! but i guess thats just the way i am.


Leah said...

Going into a home doesn't necessarily mean that they are going to be affected in a bad way. My Grandma has been put into a care home and she finds it really freeing. When she was living on her own she was stressed about every little thing, when she lived at my mom's home she worried about inconveniencing my mom and changing her lifestyle. Now she is happy not to be burdened with the little things and lets someone else take care of that stuff.

Michelle said...
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the salmon said...

thank you both for your comments.

i hadnt thought of it the way you wrote, Leah. i (and most mothers, i think) would probably react the same way your grandma did; of feeling like you are burdening your family (even though i'm sure the family doesnt feel that way, even though its hard at times, it really is a joy to have your loved ones near). i think because moms are so used to caring for others, its hard to accept that same care.

michelle, your point is exactly what i meant too. a "home" for elderly could be fine if the family visit regularly. and separating spouses is so sad. obviously the medical community have their reasons for separating (maybe so the spouses dont harm one another). but i dont understand why they couldnt visit. if they dont totally remember who the person is, what exactly is the harm...any nurses out there who can tell me?