Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Critical

Sometimes seriously stressful stuff builds up in peoples’ lives, simmering away ignored in the background and slowly getting more and more urgent to be dealt with until a critical mass is reached and suddenly BAM – one little tip too far and the whole thing just goes into a freefall meltdown… That’s kind of what happened to my parents lives recently.

My 82-year-old Dad has had several strokes and also has Vascular Dementia. My 76-year-old mum is his sole carer, and both had previously refused to discuss any realistic emergency backup plans. So when inevitably she took ill and was rushed into hospital by ambulance with suspected pneumonia at the end of last month my dad was unceremoniously whisked off to a local nursing home for emergency crisis care.

Dad absolutely hated it, not really understanding why he was there and apparently thinking he had been abandoned to his fate forever. Not that anything was necessarily wrong with the place, but it wasn’t his home or his family and he simply didn’t want to be there away from the people and places he knew. So I took some time off work at short notice, booked myself an overnight train to Scotland, and went up to stay in my parents’ home for the duration so both could come home to be looked after…

And three weeks on, now that Mum is much better here I am back home in London again. I’ve basically spent all that time with my brother and I effectively being parents to our ageing parents, sorting out all the major formal stuff with the Social Work team to be sure we have a suitable care package in place and all appropriate health and safety concerns relating to the house are dealt with, and serious discussions are begun about any long-term plans…

The thing is, both Mum and Dad want to stay put where they are in the large rambling rural house we grew up in, perfect for a fit young growing family but a potential death-trap for an infirm elderly couple, in denial and determined to maintain their independence at all costs. Because unfortunately what they really need in order to facilitate that continuing independence into the future is a smaller, infinitely more accessible home in a far less rural location.

Dad no longer drives at all, Mum is beginning to struggle with driving herself, and without their car they would effectively find themselves housebound, miles away from the help and support they need. But after 45 years in situ they are both too set in their ways, too stuck in the past, and however much we try to find short-term solutions for the problem of their location for the time being, one way or another it seems moving will eventually be inevitable.

So all my bother and I can do right now is remain ever-vigilant on high alert, potentially prepared for the next critical emergency to arise, frustrated at the futility of all our well-intentioned efforts ultimately to make life easier for them in the long-term, and simply continue to pick up the shattered pieces for them the next time their precarious coping strategy disintegrates into dust again…

Stream of Consciouness Saturday: Critical


6 thoughts on “Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Critical

  1. I’m a home care nurse for our elderly population here on Cape Cod. Your parent’s sound like 90% of my patients. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do, other than cross your fingers. They come from a generation that worked hard, are independent and strong willed. That’s one thing that doesn’t seem to fade as the years go on. So hard on the kids, worrying for their safety. Sending strength to you as you navigate these “golden” years with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I feel your pain having gone through this oh so recently. Dad was only a couple of miles away from me so I managed, but Mum was 100s of miles away in Wales. It seems you have done all you can for now through Social Services so that’s good. Dad I discovered when he was too poorly and in hospital had managed to organise an army of people to help him. A cleaner, a lady who did the ironing, a man who cut the grass ,a man who did the rest of the gardening, a man who cleaned the car, a window cleaner, a dustbin cleaner, a firm that dealt with moss…. the list just went on. Even his shopping was bought from a tiny local supermarket in the village and delivered to him. Good Luck.

    Liked by 1 person

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