Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Visiting Nurses and Assistance

One fine, September day, Ma decided she had to get to the bank. She wasn't going to wait until I got there to take her. She wasn't going to take the elder bus all through the town, and God forbid would she spring for a taxi. Ma decided she would walk to the bank, and she convinced Dad he had to go with her.

At her age, 91, you're probably thinking, good for her, and it would have been if she had just pushed her walker to the end of the street and back to the house.  Nope, she pushed that walker, with Dad holding on so it wouldn't get away from her, a mile to the bank. She fell twice halfway there, but Dad managed to get her up on her feet. They were a block away from the bank when she fell again. Two kind young men helped her. They wanted to call an ambulance, but she refused. They did help get her to the bank, and it was obvious she had injured herself. The bank manager called an ambulance. Ma had dislocated her shoulder.

After a short stay at rehab, Ma was sent home. Visits from the visiting nurses were arranged along with a personal care aid who would stop by two or three times a week to help Ma bathe and get dressed.

In December of the same year, on a midnight run to the bathroom, Ma slipped on the bathroom floor and hit her head. Dad helped her up, gave her some aspirin for her headache, and she went back to bed. Ma must have been in pain and worried because when the aid showed up, Ma told her about the fall.  The aid called for an ambulance.

I received a call from the ER doctor who informed me, Ma broke the 2nd cervical vertebra in her neck, and the hospital was sending her to a hospital in Boston. Rather a long trip for me to make, I asked if her injury could be treated at UMASS in Worcester, closer to my home.

After this injury, I was sure Ma would end up in a nursing home, but she and Dad refused.  So after another rehab vacation, Ma went home, and I received lots of calls from the visiting nurses. Ma needed long term nursing care. Preaching to the choir. Ma said there was no food in the house. I just took them shopping yesterday. An interesting note, is the visiting nurses shouldn't have been calling me. Health care professionals will ignore the privacy act when it's convenient for them to do so. No complaints. The VNA were my eyes and ears and confirmed alarming things going on that I suspected but didn't have proof.

The VNA also pressured me into taking legal action against my mother. Ok, but legal action isn't free. How much does it cost to have a person committed? Four grand. And I had two people because if Ma was the engine, Dad was the caboose. Legally, my hands were tied because we did not have power of attorney, and even if Ma understood what that entailed, she would not grant that to me in my lifetime, in my children's life time. And so my family rolled along on square wheels. We were rolling, but it wasn't pretty.

Every time, the VNA, police, fire department finds Elders in precarious or dangerous situations, they are required by law to file an Elder at Risk report with the state Elder and Protective Services.

You guessed it in the cheap seats, next week, Elder and Protective Services.


  1. Your mom sounds like a determined lady. Taking care of parents certainly gets challenging.

  2. WOW (and I thought I had a bumpy ride....)