I am one of the legions of baby boomers who moved an elderly
parent in their home. There’s a lot to be said about having my mother in my
Right up front, I enjoy the companionship of someone who grew up in
rural CA and who can instantly solve difficult to answer questions like “What
did I do wrong ‘with this pie crust, mom”’
You didn;t use ice water, right?” she says.
Ice water? Well they didn’t teach that in man camp, damnit!,
Or my periennial favorite”What temp do I cook a turkey?
“look it up in Betty Crocker”
Until recently My 94 year old mother, has always made me
But Mom is slowing down and three weeks ago she broke her
hip and was down for about 20 minutes before I found her on the floor.
I know, “bad son, very bad son.”
So for the last three weeks, I’ve been engaged in twice
daily round robin trips to visit Mom in the hospital and to face the sobering
reality of invoking an advanced medical directive.
Total buzz kill, right?
Because of my mom’s advanced age, I’ve been prepared fo the otherwise
solemn invocation of mom’s mother’s advanced medical directive for several
years. She and I have discussed it and I know exactly what Do Not Resuscitate,
No Tube Feeding and No Heroic Measures” mean.
Mom’s path to the orthopedic surgeon’s table wasn’t a freeway. Her kidney functions were well
below minimums, she was retaining excessive amount of carbon dioxide and worst
of all, there is a serious fatal risk associated ith intubating elderly
Until my mom’s surgeons explained to me that the diaphragm
muscles begin to atrophy as soon as they
are not used, I thought breathing was one of the functions controlled by our
reptilian brains. I was wrong. My mom is quite specific in her wishes that she
not be put on ventilator.
Yet my mother is and has always been a force of nature. So,
one week after she broke her hip, she had surgery. The docs used a spinal block
and repaired her hip joint with three really wicked looking screws. She was on
the table a whopping 22 minutes and lost one teaspoon of blood.
Like I said, My mom is a force of nature.
Recovery has been slower than I expected, and my mom is very
weak. In fact she’s so weak she’s not up to rehab—the successful completion of
which should have resulted in her coming home to the addition I built for her
at my home here in Escondido.
The one thing I’ve learned the hard way about caring for an elderly
parent in your home is that caretakers need time off. I’m very burned out from
commutes to and from the hospital and trips to the airport to pick up and drop
off loved ones. I badly need a vacation.
The really Bad news is that tomorrow—after consulting with
her physician and a case worker, I will make a decision about moving my mother
to a skilled nursing facility in the
hope that she’ll regain enough strength and determination to participate in rehabilitation therapy.
The path leading to the decision to move my mother into a nursing
home has been difficult. Right up front, it's forced me to honestly look at how
seriously I’m handicapped. Because of the effects of a stroke, I’m very weak in
my left side and have balance problems.
If I were to bring my now invalid mother home,I’d have to move her out
of a hospital bed and into a wheel chair several times a day, help her shower
Honestly, it’s more than I can do. And my decision has left
me disappointed, frustrated and feeling like I’m not the son I should be.I
haven’t blogged about this until now,but I have posted bout my mom’s changed
condition on Facebook.
The response from childhood friends on Facebook to my short
posts made me realize that I’ve made a decision that’s best for my mother and
that I’m not the only Azusa kid now in his Sixties who has faced this conundrum.
In fact I’ve come to realize that growing up in Azusa prepared me for this day
better than I could have ever imagined.
At the end of the day I remain one ofAzusa’s Huck Finns, conquering one white
fence at a time, with a lot of help from some people I’ve known forever. Jim
Forbes, Escondido, CA, on 09/16/2012.