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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Blogging Will Be Light

I'm dealing with a rough family situation. My mother, who is in her 70's and has several medical problems, has been put in the position of being the primary caretaker for two neighbors who are in their later 80's and now in terrible health. The family has basically run out on them; some rather remote family has been trying to step in and do what they can, but without authority there is little they can do.

But my mother's health is crashing under the strain. I have been very worried about the situation, and I have been praying about it. Last week while praying I was told to get my butt up here by Saturday or else. The bruise from that particular butt-kicking will last the rest of my life, and it should.

I got here yesterday, and I needed to be here. My mother is a diabetic and her blood sugar is shooting out of control; I need to get her out of here. Which she knew, but she was lying about, because the truth is, if she leaves or goes in the hospital at least one of her neighbors will die. They cannot live alone; they need daily care and medical treatment.

So I need to take care of my mother's neighbors so I can get my mother to safety. I will be cleaning their house (which the EMT's said was not fit for human habitation), making sure they eat and have food, and testing the blood sugar of one of them. She doesn't eat without being forced, and she's always about 18 hours away from coma. In fact, she's been taken to the hospital three times lately for that same problem; my mother is quite correct that if she isn't here the old lady will die.

In the meantime, my mother's neighbor's daughter is on vacation. Her mother was in the hospital last week, but hey, first things first, right?

We live in an age in which we have been studiously taught to ignore our consciences and to sneer at all the old-fashioned words like "duty", "loyalty", "self-sacrifice" and "sin". But those old-fashioned words still describe reality better than all the euphemisms of our foolish age and culture.

I will pray for you, in the hope that in this one thing you can do all in your power, and not be maxed out over the rest.

You are in good hands, and you are the good hands for your mother and her friends.

Of course I will pray for you. I can also do a little something else. I am a nurse, with loads of home care and geriatric experience. Put a dollop of diabetic ice cream in a glass of Glucerna. Stir it up, and she'll probably drink it. It "primes the pump" and you can then get more food down her. If her diet will allow Ensure and regular ice cream, so much the better. I've done this for years, and, when we tried it on my mother in law, she got off hospioce and lived another couple of years. Hope this helps, and if it doesn't there'll still be the prayers. Oh, get her some zinc supplement. There is a prescription one that is about ten time the RDA. Old people don't always absorb zinc as well as we'd like, and the deficiency leaves them without much sense of taste, except for sweet, which the diabetic doesn't need. Any other tips, e-mail me.
Yours in Christ,
Michael Adams
Thank you very much for the prayers and the advice!

Well, things are getting better in at least one way. The old lady is neither diabetic nor hypoglycemic. I have been checking her blood sugar several times a day, and although it was very elevated the first two times it has now steadied up nicely.

As far as I can tell, my mother's neighbor's chief medical problems are loneliness and dehydration. I can fix both temporarily, but her family or the social welfare people are going to have to make provisions for daily visits, because I live far away.

I spoke to the visiting nurse and they are going to put in a referral for living assistance. My mother was balking at leaving, but her doctor put in a near-operatic performance yesterday, and now she realizes she's leaving one way or another. A pine box, an ambulance or a more dignified withdrawal to less allergenic premises under her own power....

Her condition is improving slightly, but that's because I have barred her from the neighbor's house and I'm making her stay in AC. Diabetics cannot afford to suffer respiratory collapse and be put on massive doses of steroids. She is, as the doctor yodeled yesterday, close to organ failure.
Your mom- and you and your family= are in my prayers.
I wish you all well.
Girl, you are a one-woman rescue unit! Take care and God bless your efforts. I empathize with you... moving one's mom from their usual environment is a herculean task. Good for her doctor in getting the message through.

Glad you are marshalling the needed services, that seems what many older people need. Meals on Wheels is one that offsets the loneliness factor- a visit of the meal delivery person is a face to see :)
Bless you and your mother, and the neighbors, too, who are not being old and ill on purpose.

You can't overload the lifeboat. If you do, everybody drowns.

The neighbors are fortunate indeed to have had your mom and you to watch over them. Now, you need to focus on your mom, and YOURSELF.
Your mother is very fortunate to have you and a doctor to get and keep her on the right track. Caregiving is a lot more streessful than anyone can imagine who has not done it. My mother lived with me and my wife for two years until we made arrangements for her to move into a retirement community.

She is in excellent health (no medicines, completely mobile, good appetite, turning ninety in December) but has a failing memory. She is a perfect candidate for a retirement community and after three months made the adjustment completely. She is more active and is meeting other people, but the biggest blessing of all is a sense of security that she is in a safe place night and day.

I work in a different retirement community and see it all the time. After the move is made it is typical for the resident, following a period of adjustment, to conclude the move might better have been made earlier. I can't tell if your mom (or the other couple you mentioned) are candidates for a retirement community, but I can tell you it is a great remedy if you can make it happen.

The place where I work is private pay but my mother has nothing but her Social Security check. No other assets. If it were not for Section Eight assistance she would not be able to take advantage of the place where she is living.

Be selective, but know that there are some really great places to go when you get older. Such places have only developed fully in the last two or three decades. Thanks to the boomers retirement communities are getting better all the time.
Hoots - thanks for the advice. My mother doesn't need this now, but her neighbors need a lot more than they are getting.

Both my mother's condition and the neighbors' condition improved. I evacuated my mother today. She's at her place at my brother's for the time being. I have a bedroom for my mother and so does my brother, but my brother is closer to the doctor.

Mamacita, you are right - all that we could do for my mother's neighbors has now been done, and others have to pick it up.

Thanks for the prayers, everyone!
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