I’ve learned a few things during my years of investigating abuse of the elderly.
I’ve made a mental checklist of things to not expect of or demand from my children. Additionally there are some things they can do. Things to protect me. And some things I will state here so that in fifty one years they have documentation that I said they could do it. I swear I am of my right mind typing this. As right as it ever was.
First, and foremost, I will never say to my children:
“Promise me you will never put me in a nursing home.”
Nursing homes are not a drop off center for the elderly. They are places for the elderly who require lots of care giving to go and receive care giving. They are not replacement for family. People go there to work, in shifts, to provide a level of care that some families are not capable of providing for their elderly family member. Some folks need lots of care. No one or two people can provide 24/7 care to another. It does not work. It is downright work, hard work. Nursing homes are not the lair of the devil. They serve a purpose. The best thing you can do to make a nursing home stay a safe and enjoyable place for your family is to remain involved. Use the nursing home to provide the hands on level of care they need. And use your time with your family to remain the daughter, son, nephew, niece, spouse, sibling, friend…whatever your relationship is use the nursing home to retain that relationship.
Let’s say I get old and can not take care of myself (I do not see this happening but if) I do have some ground rules for nursing home living:
- Do not put me in a room with someone I do not know and expect me to be comfortable with it. By the time I get to that age I will have lived nearly a century making my own choices, being modest, and being private (this blog does not infringe on my privacy-I am more private than you will ever know). I worked in a nursing home many many years ago. I will never forget the site of two women who had never known one another suddenly being roommates. They had dementia. And they were always being “caught” taking each other’s clothes off. I can promise you right now I will not, even in a dementia state, want anyone taking my clothes off. Nor do I want to be taking off someone else’s. Please make sure this never happens. Thank you.
- Just put me in a private room.
- Do not tell me when to go to sleep. Do not tell me to take a nap. Do not tell me when to wake up.
- Do not buy me old lady clothes: ‘house coats’, dresses, polyester pants.
- I will wear sweat pants. Bike shorts (deal with it). Skeletoes or Vibram Five Fingers. Barefoot.
- Don’t tell me at the age of 99 I have to watch my salt intake, count my carbs, or refuse me what ever I want to eat. If I want to eat it, I shall eat it.
When I get old I do not want my children to ever let me hoard. Let’s make sure they all know the difference now. If I am saving banana peels, throw them away, no matter how much I yell at you or cuss at you. If I am saving pictures of my family, that’s okay. If I am saving paper to recycle, that’s okay, unless the stack of them start to create new walls in the house. If you can not see my floors, and I have yard sale stuff hanging from my ceiling, please feel free to go in and clean the house.
If I need to go to the doctor and refuse to go pick my ass up and carry me there. Kicking and screaming if you must. But let’s be prepared. Just one of you isn’t going to be able to do it. Bring an army.
Do not let me give my money to anyone who lives in Nigeria, Jamaica, or other foreign country who has someone calling me pretending to love me. Additionally, if anyone calling me tells me they are a prince, a king or other jailed nobility and need me to help them because they’ve been imprisoned remind me that prince’s, kings, and other jailed nobility do not need a 99 year old lady living in America to bail them out with her PERS. They have jewels they can pawn.
Do not ever let anyone convince me I need a pet to keep me company. I am allergic.
Do not let anyone tell me I can not ride my bike. If I think I can do it. I can do it. Let me.
Do not let anyone call me “Missy”.
If I turn quirky (er) or cranky (er) I should take the time to tell you now… I love you. I trust you to watch over me and make the best decisions you can. Do not feel bad about not being able to handle me. I could very well be a handful. If that’s the case and you need to grace a nursing home with my presence, it’s okay. It’s what’s needed. Just be sure to follow the above listed ground rules.
If at any time the ability to reason has left me don’t try to convince me. Just do what you must to take care of me. I trust you.
If at any time I forget who you are… I am sorry. But it’s okay. There will always be the fact that you are my children. I am your mom. Me forgetting it will never be my choice. Ever. Me forgetting it will never change it. Here’s what you need to know about that: you may be looking at a body that looks like me but the essence of me, the me who has so much to do even at that point, is out galavanting around the world. I am watching over you in a different manner. The me that you see is just part of me that’s left behind. The rest of me is out and about. Doing something else. Remember we don’t know God’s plan. So where ever I am, I am still loving you.
My intention is to grow old. Remain physically active and mentally alert. I plan on taking care of myself. Forever. But I’ve seen so many people who did not make plans on getting older, that once they got old, they weren’t ready for it.
I will be ready for it. I will take advantage of the wisdom that comes with my age. And I will live well. Using up my time and my body to do all that I can for as long as I can.
But just in case I’m not calling all the shots….
Let’s have a plan.