Thursday, July 20, 2006

Rule Number 1: Don’t Call 911

Through Internet searches, strangers are finding their way to Bea’s Bedside. With a bit of luck they depart with some information, which they can apply to their own lives. There are so few options out there for learning how to care give.

The latest searches include

• Clothing bedridden
• Gifts for bedridden
• Bedridden parent
• What to do when elderly mom is nasty to daughter.

I like the last one and hope this particular caregiver took heart. It is important not to lose patience, although the elderly certainly can be trying at times.

Today Bea is not in a very good mood. She requests food. When I bring her something to eat, she takes a few bites and turns her head away. Five minutes later, I hear her voice again, “Is anybody going to bring me something to eat?”

We play this little game all afternoon.

It is almost as if she is hoping a new person will show up each time with a dish she finds more appetizing.

Finally I offer chocolate ice cream. She only takes a few swallows. Her appetite is not what it used to be.

During Natalie’s visit last weekend, I was able to get away and run a few errands. On the road to Orleans, I realized I had forgotten to give my daughter important information: what to do in an emergency. Yes, I hear you. She should know. Everybody does. Call 911. Well, no.

With a person of extreme old age who has hospice, an emergency means calling the Hospice 1-800 number, kept by the phone, not 911. I learned this the hard way, when medics tried to resuscitate my 97 ½ year-old dad. Death can be a welcome release, not something to avoid at all costs …

When Bea went to the hospital in an ambulance, I filled out what they call a Comfort Care form – DNR, Do Not Resuscitate. I did not know such a form existed.

Society doesn’t teach us how to deal with the death of a loved one. Yesterday my son asked if I was prepared for Bea to die. Strangely enough, I’m not sure of the answer …


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