The statement is so Bea, the optimistic little girl, hungry for life, a seeming paradox now that she is bedridden and close to the end. I peer out the window at the rain and wonder at her words, the only ones she will utter today, besides, “I’m hungry.”
I turn her several times and provide dinner. The salmon salad is not a big hit. Bea freezes, mouth half open, with the salmon mixture on her tongue. She drinks water and eats half a chocolate pudding. It occurs to me that my mother would probably not be alive today if we had put her in a nursing home six months ago.
Our bed & breakfast guest, from Germany, tells me her country provides its citizens with nursing homes, but they resemble hospitals, not pleasant places where one would choose to live. She also speaks of a friend from Chile who returned to her hometown to care for an elderly aunt, because it seemed like the right thing to do: “They cared for us, so we should do the same.”
Sven reminds me that in the old days, children always took care of elderly parents. One daughter didn’t marry in order to assume this role. But life expectancies were shorter back then.
Home care? Nursing home? Assisted living facility?
Even people who can afford assisted living may eventually end up in the nursing home building of the assisted living complex.
Elderly care solution guides suggest visiting nursing homes unannounced in order to form an impression of what life will be like for a loved one interned there. People who take this advice will probably react the way I did and reject the nursing home option. For Bea, home care with hospice is definitely the best solution.
Still, home care is not ideal for the caregiver who may find his own active years shortened by the burden he/she has assumed now that modern medicine prolongs life.
Sometimes Sven and I do miss our freedom …