Thursday, February 24, 2011

How to care for our elders?

This is my 91 year old Grandma. We call her Poi that's right...Poi Poi! When we were babies she thought it was Haiwain for Grandma...and didn't realize that poi was actually a porridge...LOL! This is the days before the internet....when you had 12 channels and no get the the name stuck and I LOVE IT! It's a term of endearment for our dearest Grandma. One of the greatest influences to me as a woman. She and my Grandpa would take us kids on vacations. We went to Victoria and Seattle and cruised Vancouver. My parents didn't have the money to so my Grandma made sure we travelled, went to the "Theatre". I saw the Nutcracker at age 8 at the QE and was mesmerized! I kept holding her hand and looking at her smiling. I remember it like it was yesterday. Ballet, plays, orchestras, operas....I got to see it all! When I graduated high school she and my aunt took me to Europe for 3 weeks and we went everywhere! I couldn't keep up to my then 68 year old Grandma even at age 18! HA! It's a gift to a young person without opens your heart! Your mind! It gives you the ability to DREAM!
Grandma believes in working hard and enjoying as much as you can. She is kind and generous and an advocate for the poor and the elderly. She has always volunteered to raise money for various charities and was instrumental in getting blanket warmers in the maternity wards in the local hospitals. Even at age 91 she went every week to the BC Tel Pioneers Charity. Joan worked for BC Tel for 40 years. She was on the old fashioned switch boards and worked the coastal lines and heard men drowning on fish boats and could only pray with them.
And on November 27, 2010 she fell and broke her hip in 6 places. It broke our HEARTS to see her in a HALLWAY at Surrey Memorial for 18 HOURS....and transferred to Orthopedics to endure 4 days of waiting for surgery and then having that surgery with many plates and pins put in. After a month she was transferred to a rehabilitation centre and has been there for just over 2 months. They are sending her home in 3 weeks and she cannot get out of BED! She needs assistance to go to the bathroom and shower and move.
So here we are! Our dearest loved one in a position of needing 24 care and now we have to decide what to do. My Aunt Di that was living with her is close to 70 so she cannot look after her. My other Aunt Val works full time and my Dad was just diagnosed with prostate cancer (stage 1) so they are out. I live an hour a way and have 4 kids. I HATE the thought of Poi Poi in a home.....I weep as I type. My strong, kind, funny, giving Grandma...the light of our requiring our greatest love to give her Peace in the end. So I looked into a full-time live in caregiver. Found 3 really terrific candidates in 2 hours. Two are from the Philippines and their English is not great but their skill level is fantastic! One is from England and older but has more in common with Grandma and has a louder voice!...Grandma is hearing impaired to the point where if the hearing aids are not in and on high she is NOT
So here we go...What is BEST for Grandma...being in her own home with a full-time companion and family coming and going OR going to a facility where she will receive 24 hour care but be surrounded by strangers...though she will have access to social activities she would not have otherwise. I fear if we get her home care she may become a recluse which is NOT her. If we get her a live in will it cause her more stress? Fear of a stranger? Keep in mind this a very vulnerable, mobility challenged, hearing challenged elderly person. So I ask for your advice. Which would you choose? And why?

On a funnier note...hubby had his 50th Bday and yes I bought the CHEESY decorations. How could I not? Surprised him with 24 friends and family at a restaurant...tee hee....He LOVED it! Which makes us 52/55 days without retail. I'll take the was worth it to see his face when he saw the blow up walker and 50's sun glasses. :):)

Big Momma Tough Decision Love to you all! XO


  1. I would opt for the campanion at home its going to be hard enough for herto have to rely on a stanger for care. At least it is only one instead of multiple persons per day. Maybe you can arange for her to meet the applicants and see if she has a preferance.

  2. I am so sorry Sue. This is a difficult position. Assuming that Poi Poi is of sound, rational mind, I would speak with her first. It could well be that she will embrace the opportunity to turn strangers into friends if it means that she has is not alone and that medical care is on hand. It could be that she doesn't want to be trapped at home, even with a companion, waiting for family and friends to drop by and breath life into her days. Perhaps she would prefer to be at home and volunteer visitors could help to ease the loneliness between family visits. Don't force her into an immediate decision, but pave the way for a frank conversation about her wants and needs and what the family can reasonably provide for her. If she is not capable of making that type of decision, then it's time to call a family meeting, pool your knowledge and resources and see what you can come up with together. The love and commitment of a family can overcome many obstacles. Kathy

  3. A couple of things... most importantly, she is 91. Obviously, this will not be the last health setback she faces over the next bit. So even if you decide on a live-in caregiver for now, eventually her needs may exceed the physical/mechanical set up of her home. Be prepared to make further changes and arrangements. Our physical bodies deteriorate and die - this is a fact we must all accept and prepare for.
    NOTHING will be ideal or meet all your expectations - be prepared to compromise or bankrupt your family. There will be trade-offs. There will be moments of frustration and sadness. The system is not equipped to deal with how long people are living now, nor how many people require care. And the system relies on family members stepping up to help. It will be a rollercoaster - try not to react to every disappointment. I hope everyone does the best they can and she finds some comfort and quality of life for her remaining years. xo

  4. Another thing I forgot to mention is pain management. She is still in a lot of pain and requires serious meds to relieve it. Have a few friends that work in facilities and with government cut backs the residents don't get the same attention....HUGE changes in the last year alone. And Jenn is right...the system is overwhelmed and this is just the beginning of the influx of eldery requiring care in the next 20 years. She wants to go home...but then again she has been away for months and may need the comfort of home for a while. We only have 3 weeks to get it together! I love my aunts but this is foreign territory to them and I think they are overwhelmed with the decision making process. My Dad wants her home and thinks the English lady would be a good fit. But if her health deteriates further (good point Jenn) she may be better off in a facility with staff nearby at all times. And the social aspect would be good for her too. Makes the day go by faster when you have people to talk to....I'm going in circles!

  5. yes, this is tough. Maybe a gradual transition where you begin researching a facility (waitlists can be devastating...), and even line up a bed (hopefully subsidized based on her OAP), but bring her home for a few weeks before moving her into the facility. A facility is likely inevitable but she may need time to accept it. It is so difficult as it represents the 'beginning of the end' in a real concrete way. Also, once she's in the facility, you may decide to augment care with a personal attendent for a few hours each day. Standards of care can be really sketchy, esp with the huge reduction of RN's in long term care in BC, replaced by unregulated care aides. We battle at least weekly with ECU over my Grandma's care. I can't imagine how those without any family or advocates manage to survive those facilities. It is heartbreaking how poorly our society treats our elderly. Just heartbreaking.

  6. It keeps me awake at night with the thought of Poi Poi in a facility....private and government subsidized. Had a good talk with my Auntie Val and she is going in circles too. The decision is to bring her home with my two aunts taking turns and having some help for bathing etc...and see how it goes. Give Poi Poi a chance to say goodbye to her independance and that lifestyle. They are not prepared to hire a full time live in and are looking into private facilities that we as a family will subsidize...7 adult families will pool to make sure she has the best care. My kids can go without icecream and slurpees for a few make sure Grandma is taken care of. We had a family meeting and the boys are on board and my hubby is for sure on board...a few less beers...a few less golf's worth it to make sure Poi Poi lives her final days with care and love and access to social outings. So here we are...she comes home for a time and then she goes to Granville Street for her final days...I just hope they are happy days...without pain...and full of LOVE!

  7. Well, I think this is one of those times when there isn't a perfect answer. I do know that my 95 year old gram is thankfully very happy in the care place she's in and no one in my family ever thought she'd be happy there. She likes that we can all come and go as we wish, but that she has some privacy too. There are health care professionals there and someone somes in to help her now with some basics like even getting dressed since she has one bad arm which makes it difficult. I think (as usual!) Jen has some very insighful advice... I wish you all luck with this decision. Not an easy one I know from experience with both my grandmas!

  8. Part of me wishes we did not need to make these decisions...and the other part is grateful we do...such a blessing to have our elders in our lives. XO