Category Archives: Elder Care

Happy Thanksgiving…. When will you die, damn it?

Happy Thanksgiving…. please die. Not a very nice thought is it?  I’d like to think it wasn’t me who had that thought Thanksgiving morning but it was. I would like to say it was because I had a sinus infection and was stressed trying to make a perfect holiday for my homecoming children, busy, stressed. Which is true. But all I could think of was the stench.  The stench of urine and shit saturated sheets. The panic of trying to get things cleaned up before my daughter awoke.  For her not to see her grandfather pee on the floor when his penis hit the air and me using washrags to clean his balls of the feces caught in the hair of his scrotum. I didn’t do a very good job.  The stench of cooking turkey, sweet potatoes and pee found me in the back yard retching up my morning coffee.  Thank God she slept late.

I love my father-in-law.  He thanks me for taking care if him when his mind is good. Otherwise, he dislikes me.  I am the person who won’t let him sit in urine. I won’t give him buttermilk or unlimited sweets.  ( his feet swell and his breathing gets difficult) My weekend mornings suck.  After working long hours on our business we get to go to our farm.  Sounds nice but it’s not.  We are lucky we have someone to take care of my 97-year-old father-in-law most weekdays but even the caregiver needs a break. We are it.

We promised my Father-in-law he wouldn’t go to a nursing home.  We are trying to keep that promise.  The worse thing is that he now wants to go into home but it is too late.  A home would be fun. Cute nurses, people around he wouldn’t have me making him walk.  But if he does we will lose the farm.  The farm; that he wants his grandchildren and great grandchildren to have.  It is too late.

The papers transferring the farm into my husbands name needed to happen five years before nursing home care.  Now if we put him in a nursing home his assets would disappear quickly. $6000 a month goes fast.

Why do I tell you this?  Please talk to your parents. Please think about yourself.  What do you want the end to look like? You can choose.

Dying From Depression

NOTE: I have been sitting on this blog post for a while because I have been afraid it would be seen as unprofessional. However, I just heard from a friend that a  member of my book club got  drunk at her daughter’s wedding and was so ashamed she went to her garage,closed the door,  got into her car, and killed herself. She left behind, husband, children and grandchildren. I am SURE they would have forgiven her.

“Everyone has a Mother, and they all die.” I saw this short story title in a book I was reading  “Believer, Beware.” It made me catch my breath. You see, my own mother died recently and it shocked me.  It shocked me because she died but also because she chose to die.  My mother starved herself to death.

I was raised by my paternal grandparents so I did not find out until I was a junior in high school that my mother was manic-depressive or bipolar.

Bipolar illness seems to in the news a lot lately, the new ADHD. Every TV channel promotes this and that new drug, Xanax, Lyrica, Lexapro…

Bipolar depression, the illness dujour, is a very serious one.  But like all illnesses it has different degrees, from mild swings of depression and mania to wild full-blown psychotic episodes. My mother’s illness seemed to run the gamut.  Looking back through her papers I think she began to show symptoms as an early teen. But back then not much was know and her behavior was written off as a thyroid condition. So she was not diagnosed until much later.

Many people who have bipolar illness are quite brilliant. People such as, Beethoven, Hemingway, Churchhill. When my mother was high, crazy things could happen.  She might give away all her possessions and move to the Isle of Guernsey, become an innkeeper of a Scottish castle, have a fling with a Brazilian airline pilot.  That is one of the reasons some  people with bipolar illness don’t want to take their medicine. They don’t like feeling flat; they miss the ability to get an extraordinary amount of things done.

The depressive side of the illness is never far away- Being ashamed of impulsive and inappropriate behavior committed while “high”, the inability to form long and lasting friendships, the feelings of loneliness and alienation from other people.

My mother had secrets, secrets she was too ashamed to confess.  I believe that is what really killed her. I was pretty angry with her.  I do understand that is part of the grieving process.  The point I am trying to make is that we are all human. And being human makes us frail, fallible creatures.  I think it is quite self-centered to believe that you are the only one to have done stupid, terrible things.

My mother did not like being labeled mentally ill; it made her ashamed, and she also did not like growing old.  Not being able to climb the hills of Scotland hurt her deeply.   But I have to believe that it was her illness that made her give up. It takes one hell of a will to starve your self to death.

I was embarrassed to have a mentally ill mother. I was ashamed. I am sorry for that. I wish I had better understood the illness. I wish she was still here.

We all feel sad and depressed at times, we all need people to talk to. It may be a friend or a professional.  A professional helped me when my Grandmother died and again when my Mother died.  It helped.

In our society there is still a stigma about needing help. We need to change that. Do you think it is a sign of weakness to seek professional mental health treatment? Would it cause you not to hire someone who you know had?

Depressed? Get help. Lonely? Get help. Ashamed? Get Help! .  Where to start? NAMI National Alliance for Mental Illness. Suicide Hotline.

What resources do you know out there?

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I am old. I WANT to die.

I have been thinking about this blog post for a while now. But I have hesitated. My own feeling on the subject as still confused.  Also because I don’t want my blog to be seen as a “downer”.  But the reason I started my own blog was just for these type issues. Real Life.  And boy, I was dealing with real life NOW.

I have been changing a lot of diapers lately, not on a cute newborn baby bottom, but an old wrinkly one.  My father-in-law no longer has control of his bladder or bowels.

The worst thing is that he knows what is happening.  He is still pretty damn sharp for a 96 year old.  He asked me last night if I “had ever thought I would be cleaning an old persons butt?” I tried to make a joke of it, asking him not to fart on me…it made him laugh but it did not really cover up the sadness involved.

My father-in-law and I have been talking quite a bit lately. His sitter was sick and my husband and I have been doing sitting duty. He told me “ I am ready to go, I have lived long enough! I am ready to die ” I don’t think he really wanted a response from me. At least I hope not.

I have been re-reading a book called “How We Die”.  By Sherwin B. Nuland. It was a National book award winner. I purchased the book about fifteen years ago when my grandmother had Alzheimer’s. We had recently put her into a nursing home and I wanted to learn as much as I could. I wanted to know how long before she died.

It may make me seem heartless but I have to wonder, how long before Ben dies? He is ready to go, and to be perfectly honest so are we. I know how horrible that sounds. Selfish, probably.  I do not want to see him to continue to decline. To be embarrassed. To hear him say how thankful he is to have us. It makes me feel ashamed. I don’t feel like I can bare the weight of his gratitude.

Have you thought much about your old age? I have. I have already expressed that I do not want my children to take me home. I do not want them to feel the mixed feelings of love and anger Love and responsibility. I want to be put in a rocking old folks home if possible.  What about you?

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Life in Rural America: And other weird stuff

As some of you may know, I am part of the sandwich  generation. My husband and I are newly childless. (The last entered UNC Chapel Hill  last year.) We moved back home to Nashville after nine years in the Carolinas to start our marketing company and to be closer to John’s father who is  96 years old.

We are suffering all the trials and tribulations of business owners and the necessity of caring for John’s dad, Ben. Ben lives in Bruceton, Tennessee about an hour and a half west of Nashville, between Nashville and Memphis..  He lives on the 100 acre family complete with horses, chickens, etc. I lovingly call it meth-lab country.

We are fortunate that we can control our schedule for the most part and have set up a system of sitters, home healthcare and us.

I am not much of a farm girl but I am learning. I have decided to begin writing down the stories I have been hearing for years and the new ones that pop up every day. Enjoy!

This is what happened when we arrived at the farm Wednesday night.

Bruceton Farm Breaking News! 56 year old Joe Smith (name has been changed) was apprehended by the Bruceton police department trying to out  run them on Rolling Mill Road about 8 pm last night. Earlier that evening he had borrowed money for one gallon of gas at Q-mart. After hearing a loud bang (he hit a utility pole and darkened the entire neighborhood,) he was caught.

Fortunately no one was seriously injured. Earlier this year he walked into the Center Point Baptist Church with a shotgun and invited the parishioners to his Daddy’s funeral. Unfortunately, his Daddy had been dead for over a year.

He had an earlier run-in with the law after being caught with 2 small raccoons on his three-wheeler. It is Illegal to hunt wild game . It is our hope that when he is released he will once again be seen riding a lawnmower up and down Rolling Mill Road. You don’t need a license for a lawnmower in Carroll County.

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