- Family and Parenting»
- Parenting Skills, Styles & Advice
"Are Your Parents Safe At Home?"
It became apparent to me that my Mother was in danger
Life is never easy. As the son of an ageing Mother, it became clear to me recently that my Mother was in danger. Suddenly I was faced with finding a safe place for my Mother, and getting her to agree to moving out of her home. Of course my Mother thought she was just fine and didn't need any help yet.
My Mother was living alone in a mountain community. She loved the Sierra mountains in Northern California where her family had vacationed for years. When she retired she had a new house built close to her brother's home in Arnold California. At the time it seemed like a good idea.
My Mother has always been a self reliant individual. I have never had to worry about Mom. She was taking care of herself on a daily basis. She was still doing her errands and keeping her appointments rain, shine, or snow. After Moms second husband died I started calling her daily. She was eighty six years old, and I didn't want her to get lonely.
My wife Betty and I would drive up every month or so and spend some time with Mom. I started to notice little changes in her daily life. Mom always seemed to be working on some sort of project, but I started to see that she was losing interest in some of the things she was working on. Her cooking habits and appetite were changing, so I started to ask her more about what kinds of meals she was cooking during the week. She said that sometimes she would heat up a frozen pre-prepared meal from the freezer. Then she laughed and said that most of the time she wasn't hungry so she would just eat an ice cream cone.
One morning I received a phone call from a frantic friend of my Mother's. Mom was in her office that morning when she heard the front door bell ring. She got up to answer the door and as she left her office she got tangled in her oxygen supply line and tripped. She became airborne hitting the wall, not unlike a torpedo face first. Mom was in bad shape, she had injured her neck. The ambulance was on it's way and so were we.
We met my Mother's friend at the Sonora Regional Hospital only to find that there wasn't anything the hospital could do for her injury. They were already preparing Mom for a helicopter flight to Modesto, California. It was touch and go for a while. Mom was stabilized and a Neurosurgeon was chosen. The surgery was a success.
Talking with my Mother after the surgery, Mom reveled that she had tripped a few times and had taken some falls as a result. It suddenly became apparent that my Mother was not safe at home alone.
As Children we depend on our parents for everything, but we depend on our Mothers more than our fathers. None of us think of our parents as not being able to take care of themselves.
When we visit our parents, on the surface things look fine. As our parents age we need to listen to our parents, we need to read between the lines. We should ask questions about their eating habits, and what they are doing for exercise. Most important we must realize that our parents aren't going to volunteer any information about accidents that they have in the home. Its up to us to look for the signs that our parents are losing their ability to take care of themselves. While my Mother was still convalescing at home my wife and I took turns staying all week with her. We soon found organizations that could help Mom through county services such as Visiting Nurses.
Finding A Safe Place for Our Parents:
There's a whole industry geared to step in and take care of the elderly, without taking their freedom away. You as your parents children must be proactive and take the time to visit these Senior Assisted Living establishments. Meet with and inspect each Assisted Living establishment and their staff. One of the things that helped my wife and I with our final choice was looking at the demeanor of the residents that are living in the Assisted Living apartment complex. If the residents were happy and outgoing that was a testimony to the facility and the staff.
Selling the Idea to Your Parents:
I remember talking to my Mother about moving into a Senior Assisted Living Apartment. She thanked my wife and I but made it very clear that she was not ready for that kind of change in her life. We told Mom she could try it on a temporary basis, but she still was not interested.
At one point I had to make it clear that I wasn't going to continue to come up every weekend; and watch her demise. For Mom that was the game changer; she looked up at me and said, I guess I'm moving then.
We moved my Mother to a facility that was about an hour away from where she lived. Her friends were important to her and she most certainly didn't want to leave the mountains. Things worked out very well in our situation; we could visit monthly and also keep an eye on the house. Before long my Mother's friends were visiting her when they went to town. Sometimes they would go out to lunch and then do some shopping.
I don't worry about mom now as all indications are that she,s healthy and happy.