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losing independence

Hospital

Last week I made a quick, last-minute trip to Nashville, Tennessee.  Nana and grandpa both fell and broke their hips within a week of each other.  They're lucid.  They have their wits about them.  They've built a life for themselves and have their routines.  They've lived a long, happy life and now it's happening.  They're losing their independence.

They were in different rooms, on different floors.  I toggled back and forth between them.  At first we had a good time, laughing a little at the situation.  But then, toward the evening they each got somber.  Reality is setting in and they're not happy.  The short-term plan is to share a room at an in-patient rehab center.  But after that?  There is a laundry list of reasons that life is going to be difficult if they attempt to go back to their home and their life as it was before. 

Nana is pissed.  And Grandpa is just somber.  "I guess it's the beginning of the end, Crys."  I'm more hopeful.  Yes, they're up there in years.  But I'm hopeful that a broken hip doesn't mean the end.  Having said that, the fact that both of them are at major risk for falling again, it does mean they have turned a corner.  And now have a lot of realities to face.

I can't imagine what this must feel like.  To be held hostage by a body that fails you.  And be cared for (and treated) like a three year old, especially after all that they've been through in their life.  They've worked especially hard for their home and their life.  And now people are telling them they may have to give it up. 

Hospital2

As overwhelming as this all is for them, it's also a bit overwhelming for my mom, who is an only child.  She's there with them now, but she lives across the country, and isn't as capable of caring for them as she'd like to be.  And they're stubborn and mad and not taking suggestions well.  This has to be hard for all of them. 

Do any of you have any advice?  Online forums?  Resources?

bakeandsewblog - Oh I’m sorry – no words of advice, just support. My thoughts are with you all. Take care xx

Lisa Martin - oh honey, the story I could tell you about my experience from my totally selfish immature point of view. good bad and ugly! I’ll leave you with what my sister, who’s worked in a nursing home for about 13 yeras, told me when my MIL had to go into a nursing home. You have to celebrate the life they had, and come to terms with what they have now. It can be celebrated too.

Shanna - hi!! my grandma is pushing 90 and just went through a similar thing. last year they found she had colon cancer so she had to have surgery for cancer removal as well and an colosotomy bag…she went to a nursing/rehablitation home and didn’t want to leave! she loved it there! she even got to use a Wii as physical therapy! she only stayed there for a few months and then went home where a month later she fractured her hip. back she went to the nursing home where she, again, didn’t want to leave. my grandma has been “alone” for almost 28 years so she welcomed the company of the nursing home. i think your grandparents will be fine as long as they’re together. what about an assited living complex? my grandma lived in one of those places too. they live on their own but can have people come and help them out when they need it; grocery shopping, medical care, etc. some of those assisted living complexes are attached to nursing homes so they can have access to the activities, dining hall and medical services. prayers for your grandparents speedy recovery!!

Chris - No advice, sorry. But your post made me think of that lump-in-the-throat song “Where Have You Been?” It’s from years ago. Martina McBride maybe? I know just hearing my husband’s breathing during the night is sometimes all I need in the world. I am so sorry this has happened to them.

Becky - My only advice is to allow them to keep their dignity in the safest environment possible. I will be praying for ALL of you.

charlotte - So terribly sorry to read this, Crystal. Your photos portray lovely, spunky, capable family and it will be tough. I’m still adjusting to our new reality with my mom.
Use the hospital social worker for guidance and ideas, visit every option/facility (a good thing you can do for your mom to whittle the list)and interview live-ins. (Take your girls and let them spread some sunshine!)Is there a university nearby? Someone who might be in nursing school and needs housing? There are lots of people to help- kind souls everywhere. And then just keep your cheerfulness stoked- it’s the best fix for everyone involved. xoxo

Jen - Crystal, I am a RN and deal with patients like this every day in my intermediate/critical care unit. My advice? Talk about it. Have your grandparents talk to your Mom and you about what they want. Make sure they have advance directives in place. A POA for healthcare, etc..
Rehab is good, and then back to reality. Make sure the house is safe (no throw rugs, etc) before they go home. Does it need to be modified to be safe?
As far as future planning in regards to where they may live, that is a tough one. Just keep the lines of communication open.

Margot - There are a lot, a LOT of different things they can do, move into a new home that’s more accessible, move into a retirement community, or just try their best at home and set them up with one of those life alert sorts of things.
Just because they’ve fallen once, doesn’t mean they’ll fall again, but they sound like they’re of great sound mind to keep chugging along!
I hope you guys find the right solution for your family and for THEM most of all!
I also LOVED all the pictures of them in the hospital, they really captured those moments!

Giftofgreen - Does their hospital have a specific Elder Care program? A specific geriatrics program? This is a good site for the caregiver (e.g., your mom): http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=344
Also, check the eldercare.gov website and the AARP website for information related to these issues.
Sorry they are going through a very rough patch but I have high hopes that this is not the beginning of the end, but just the beginning of something different.

Cindy Rush - I just now read your post and it hit home. My MIL is in Assisted Living on a short term basis. She went to therapy, then AL for one month, and she is to come home Thursday (three days). I don’t know how it’s going to go. We do have a nurse practitioner that is going to come over and help her out with some basic chores a couple of times a week for three hours at a time. Laundry, groceries, changing the sheets on her bed, whatever else she needs. She has a life-line around her neck. It actually saved her life once. I no longer make fun of the commercial, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” She fell, it was a stroke, life-line saved her by getting her to the hospital within the three hour time frame. She also has a cleaning lady, and church friends. We also put support bars in her shower, and installed a higher toilet stool. We took up the rugs and just tried to make her house as ‘fall proof’ as possible. We are the only two in town, and we will go over there whenever possible. She moved to a condo, so that was helpful. Let me know how things go for your grandparents. I will be thinking about you.

Jen - Crystal, I’m chiming in so late, sorry!
Not sure if you ever knew…but I’m a Physical Therapist. I work with elderly folks and I can tell you that a broken hip does not have to be the beginning of the end. :-)
They can definitely move back home, but it is of utmost importance to have someone (a physical therapist, occupational therapist, RN) do a home evaluation to see what needs to be done to make the home safe. Things such as: removing throw rugs, moving phone cords, electrical cords, and furniture out of the flow of traffic. Installing grab bars in bathtubs / shower stalls, as well as non-slip pads. Ordering raised toilet seats and shower seats (this should be done prior to leaving the rehab hospital), for the return home.
A home health aide can come to the home and help cook simple meals and do light house cleaning 1-5 days a week, and it’s fairly affordable.
I think it’s important that they both stay as active as possible, and have someone “safe” to talk to their feelings about. Most folks don’t want to “burden” a family member with the feelings that come along with aging and the accompanying issues.
Hope this helps!!
Hugs,
Jennifer

crystal1011 - Thanks for the advice. They did have a home eval person come in. I think they have quite a few obstacles, but we will see…
Best,
Crystal
To: crystal0901@hotmail.com
Subject: [My Longest Year] Jen submitted a comment to ‘losing independence’.
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2009 20:50:20 -0700
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A new comment from “Jen” was received on the post “losing independence” of the blog “My Longest Year”.
Comment:
Crystal, I’m chiming in so late, sorry!
Not sure if you ever knew…but I’m a Physical Therapist. I work with elderly folks and I can tell you that a broken hip does not have to be the beginning of the end. :-)
They can definitely move back home, but it is of utmost importance to have someone (a physical therapist, occupational therapist, RN) do a home evaluation to see what needs to be done to make the home safe. Things such as: removing throw rugs, moving phone cords, electrical cords, and furniture out of the flow of traffic. Installing grab bars in bathtubs / shower stalls, as well as non-slip pads. Ordering raised toilet seats and shower seats (this should be done prior to leaving the rehab hospital), for the return home.
A home health aide can come to the home and help cook simple meals and do light house cleaning 1-5 days a week, and it’s fairly affordable.
I think it’s important that they both stay as active as possible, and have someone “safe” to talk to their feelings about. Most folks don’t want to “burden” a family member with the feelings that come along with aging and the accompanying issues.
Hope this helps!!
Hugs,
Jennifer
Commenter name: Jen
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carpet cleaning sammamish - Try to visit a health worker and ask some advice. They can be a great help to your problem. Just don’t lose hope!