In my township early this week one of the road guys went up the very crooked lane of a house in the trees, to see if the homeowners were around. The yard was overgrown with vegetation; did they need help? He could not reach the door for the undergrowth, and there were currently licensed vehicles in the yard. Back at the road he called for a policeman, who brought two more officers plus EMS. They all went to the house, got in and found the homeowner, deceased, evidently for several months.
We discussed this at length at the town meeting this week. Nevermind the woman had children in the next town who had not seen their mother since their father’s funeral, early in the year. What should we have done.
Two postmistresses ago the mail and the utility disconnect notices would not have accumulated in the box, to be scooped up by the carrier for “return to sender, undeliverable”. There will be no help from the current postmistress, who has banned the annual Christmas donation station from the post office. Quite obviously not there to serve the community.
Our county sheriff has a senior watch program that pairs a deputy with a registered citizen, regardless of age, who lives alone, is disabled or infirm, for regular checks. We will do this in our township; ask our seniors to register themselves, and then brainstorm to be sure we have listed everyone we know of (even old curmudgeons!). In our house we secretly check on one old person on the road, and we will continue to do so, together with putting them on the town list, if they want to be there or not.
The idea after that conjunction is important, too. “If they want to be there or not.”
I never had to deal with a curmudgeonly parent; our mother resisted her inevitable dependence, but eventually got aboard gracefully. My grandmother, who lived to be just short of one hundred went kicking and screaming to assisted living, but could not overcome the united family front. A month or two in she also had the grace to admit three rooms of her own and two meals a day were very nice. The change of mind was good, as she lived there, happily ever after, for another twenty years.
Siblings or family members who may become responsible for an elderly parent need to prepare themselves before hand. How to keep the old ones safe can become bitterly divisive, with mom, dad, grandma pushing all the old familiar buttons. Perhaps you could make it a side bar at the next family picnic. Plans need good foundations; get started now.
My grandmother, on her sixteenth birthday. She almost reached one hundred years.