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Friday, August 15, 2014

Two things to think about

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.

29 comments:

  1. Good for the township, reacting to the void that was exposed. One wonders about the family situation, but I guess we'll never know the whole story.

    In my family there is only my brother and I - I wonder if small families make the decisions about parents easier, or harder? There are fewer voices to dissent, but also fewer shoulders to bear the problems.

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    1. Beautiful photo of your grandmother!

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  2. That is one horror story! And, it is one that puts a searchlight on the failure of all the services in place, let alone the abandonment of her children! No excuses can be given or accepted.

    Your mother sounded like a pragmatic person. Your grandmother eventually did as well. What an amazing photo! A lovely young lady, who lived a long time.

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  3. We have no parents left to make decisions over - in a few years I guess we'll be those people.
    You cause me to pause and consider the people in my neighborhood. Good advice.
    And the picture of your grandmother is truly lovely. I'm sure it's posed, but she sure looks like she's thinking Deep Thoughts.

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  4. What an awful situation to find oneself in.....it behooves us all to put safety measures in place. And your gran was a lovely young woman.

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  5. The story makes me feel so sad,that could be any one of us.
    Your Grandmother was a pretty girl,no doubt a beautiful woman.
    Jane x

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  6. It is very difficult to figure out a way to deal with people who live alone and are not part of any community. Your senior watch program will no doubt help a lot.

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  7. Hari Om
    Society has become much less community in this regard - I was only thinking about neighbours this week and how the other five flats in this block could contain ghosts; on the occasion that I meet someone on the stair (rare) it is as if they were at risk of stepping on toes. 'We keep ourselves to ourselves' I have heard more than once. ...am pondering how to put the sign in the window in time..."body ready for disposal". Just so there isn't a stink... YAM xx

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  8. Echoing everyone else today - both about the sadness and the beauty of your grandmother. My mother did her very best to be one of those who are found months after she had left the planet. It was hard and thankless work to keep her safe - but I am very, very glad I persisted. I didn't always do it willingly, or with a good grace but I did do what needed to be done. Much to mama's fury.

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  9. Your grandmother was a lovely woman!

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  10. What a beautiful young lady your grandmother was!
    A very sensible plan, but how sad that it is a necessity. I think I'll just go hide beneath some bushes when the time comes; save everyone a bit of fuss and bother.
    (Yes, we do have a plethora of pups, lol.)

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  11. That's a beautiful photo of your grandmother. Willy Dunne Wooters and I have agreed to take care of each other. The problem with this deal is that although he offered, he doesn't want to do his part. Eventually, we may reach the point of being too elderly to take care of each other. I often think that if I died in here, no one would notice until the odor became unbearable. Then Hot Young Anthony from next door might check on me. When I lived in the country in Illinois, the mail carrier kept an eye on everyone. When some snow birds had a break in, it was the mailman who reported it.

    Love,
    Janie

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  12. That is such a good idea. I see quite a few lonely old people where I volunteer. Most have family, but not necessarily in the area. Who knows the story why the poor lady's family did not keep in touch, or neighbors did not check, but the good that might come out of this through the community taking action is a step in the right direction.

    How fortunate you are to have that wonderful picture of your grandmother when she was young.

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  13. how often do we drive down our street and wonder what is going on with a neighbor. We need to take an action instead of just wondering.

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  14. You hit on a very touchy subject my friend. I make weekly calls to my grandparents and if I can't get ahold of them I start making other calls for someone to check in with them. I worry as they are on the East coast and I am out West. Your grandmother was truly beautiful. :)

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  15. It's good your community is brainstorming ways to keep track of the seniors and it's very sad what happened to the person that lived in the house for so long and died with no one knowing. My own mom went kicking and screaming into care. She would enjoy it more if the staff were more caring but at least she is still looked after medically speaking. There is no way she could live on her own and I couldn't care for her at the level she requires. It's really too bad but she accepts what things as they are. It's tough on parents and their children alike.

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  16. My brother and I spent 7 tough years with a Mother who, in her dementia, yelled and screamed at us. Nothing pleased her; we were "sorry" children. She certainly pushed my buttons, and I've often wished I could have been more understanding at the time, but at least we were there. Parent care is a difficult, demanding business.

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  17. It is a difficult one. I spent many years making a round trip of 80 miles at least once a week, often a lot more frequently, to my late aunt. Yet two of her nephews lived close by, one was just two minutes drive away, the other less than five minutes. They both turned out for her funeral. She was a difficult old woman, and sorely tried my patience as she ran me round in circles with her demands, but it had to be done.

    We live in a tiny village with several very elderly residents, everyone keeps a quiet eye on them as they are fiercely independent people - luckily, they all enjoy a good chat, which makes it easier for us. It is a tricky one to get right, for all concerned. I love old photographs and this one is a delight, she was lovely.

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  18. Dear Joanne,
    it is sad that today families are often torn apart by careers. Of course there are the telephone etc - and services. I think it is a very good idea, to plan ahead - and to open ones eyes for those living near. In our house here people do mind (a bit) - that is a good thing.

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  19. Lovely photo of your grandmother.... a priceless treasure. About looking out for each other... my Mom lived with Bill & me for about 5 years before nursing home care was necessary. At work one day I got a call from a local newspaper reporter. Seems my mother had fallen and needed help getting up. I asked the woman how she knew this. She said she'd called our home to talk with Bill about an article about the Farmer's Market. My mom told her that Bill was at work and she could reach him evenings. And... by the way, could she call her daughter where she works because she'd fallen and can't get up and couldn't remember my phone number. (this was before cell phones, speed dials etc). Needless to say, after this, we had meals on wheels deliver her lunch each day ... mostly just to check on her. Yes, those 5 years were an eye-opener as to what can happen to a strong (and strong-willed) person.

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  20. so very sad the state of our world when folks aren't missed

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  21. A good plan that your community is putting into action.
    When I was in France the postlady called on everyone living alone whether there was post or not...much to the annoyance of her new boss. Here there is always someone coming over for coffee very few days....
    My mother is 98 and lives alone in England...she has friends, a cleaner who keeps me in touch with all the things mother would rather I didn't know about and has signed herself up for a residential home on the off chance that she might need one one day....

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  22. Sad story.
    My kids all have busy adult lives, but I've already been told that when 'the time' comes the oldest is going to build a mother-in-law on their property.
    On a lighter note they are also apparently doing some other planning.....last time all three were back here I came across them in the living room, pointing at things: "I get that." "Ok, but I get that".....I wondered if I needed a food-taster while they were visiting.

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  23. How wonderful of your grandmother. My own mother is now 98, but has dementia.

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  24. A beautiful picture of your grandmother. I think it's good that your County Sheriff has organised a senior watch programme. We're all gettting older, each one of us.

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  25. We have two kids and although our son has told me that of course he will take care of me, we all know, including her, it will be our daughter. son's wife will make it very difficult for him to live up to his promise. I hope I will be graceful when the time comes. Lord knows my mother certainly was not.

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  26. Our lives today are so different from our ancestors, where families lived in close quarters, in close clusters. Now, everyone is blown away on the wind. My deepest fear is being a bag lady, I think it is for many people. And the sorrow of it is that anyone can fall through the cracks. Anyone.

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