Thursday, 6 December 2012

Thanks for the memories

One of the residents from the sheltered housing visited Betty at the nursing home. Liz decided it would be good for her to return home to the flat on one occasion and on another Liz's friend offered to come with her and Betty on a trip to the garden centre. Betty's mood did not lift. She stopped walking after a week and then stopped eating. None of the food was appealing. Her other daughter arrived from Canada and took Betty out for a drive. " I won't be going out again" She announced as they returned to the nursing home. With that she took to her bed . It was 2 weeks since she arrived at the nursing home. She watched the afternoon TV programmes, requested classical music in the evening and drifted in and out of sleep. The grandsons visited and all was well. She died peacefully in the early hours of the morning. So she really hadn't been very well after all.

So now the blog will recall times with Betty and her husband John with items of interest that she would be keen everyone knew about. She thought it was exciting that the adventures of Betty and Liz were captured on a blog.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Betty requests to go somewhere to be looked after

Suddenly, one day after the hospital appointment the manager at the Sheltered housing called to say that Betty is in need of a higher level of support than can be offered by the wardens. She is calling the wardens all the time and expecting them to act as security and companions. She is weeping and not getting off the bed.
Luckily, a work colleague had his father in a facility near to Betty's flat. So without seeing the home I rang and asked if they had a bed for respite care. This was at 10.00 a.m. They had - hurrah! Someone would be out to assess Mum at 2.30 p.m. I went over and found her, as described, in low spirits. She said " I need to go somewhere to be looked after". Sue, the Senior worker from the facility arrived to assess Mum. She confirmed Mum was suitable for residential care and she would talk to her manager. It was now 3.15 p.m. " Is it possible for her to come tonight? She does not need a meal."
Fingers crossed and she rang to say " Yes". We packed the bags, complete with the cocktail of drugs and used the famous lightweight wheelchair to transfer to the car. Betty does not want to walk.
When we arrived it was a relief to see a large, modern facility. The staff were so welcoming and we arrived in a simple, clean and fresh room. Betty sat in the wing chair. Blanket on legs and one round her shoulders. Hard to believe this was my fiesty mother! She sat with her right hand supporting her forehead and could give no reason why it was so comfortable to be like that.

I was able to leave knowing that she had the right level of support. I telephoned the Dr and he remained of the opinion she did not need to be in care and advised me to be led by her as to where she stayed.
The next day the staff told me she had stayed in her room all day, hardly eaten, head in hands. " I have lived too long" she said. What happens next? I wondered.

How can the Dr know how much attention is required?

For 2 weeks Betty phoned early in the morning to confirm " I am not at all well!" Only 2 options in sheltered housing: Call the Dr or call me. My response, advised by the Dr is that he does not need to be called. So the next option for Betty is to call the warden to support her opinion. The warden on duty might change, but they all got involved. In the end the Dr was persuaded that there might be something wrong and we went to the hospital for a geriatric assessment. I accompanied Betty into the appointment. She failed to recall exactly how long she was a smoker . When reminded of the 40 years from 20 - 60, it was hard to realise that she gave up 26 years ago. She had not realised that the chest and heart problems started 8 years ago and that her mobility has reduced over 3 years. According to Betty everything has happened in the last 12 months.
I was sent away for two hours. ECG, Heart and chest checks. The diagnosis was a racing heart and depression. The drugs would take 7 days or more to lift her mood.
I asked if we could have a walking frame and the team arrived to assess Betty's ability to go home independently. Exaggerated tales of preparing salads and light meals persuaded the team she was ready to go home. They suggested day centres, meals to be delivered, companions and interests.
When we arrived back at the sheltered flats it was a different story. Betty did not want to be independent. She checked the warden was available and hailed a next door neighbour to request support in an emergency. The neighbour reminded her that the red pully is available to call a warden. I had a feeling that this was not going to be easy. Betty was attention seeking.
"Are you sure I am OK to be left?" " Yes Betty, the Drs have confirmed you are fine."

Monday, 8 October 2012

Liz is a wife and a mother too Betty!

Betty is not at all well. She really isn't. It has been 4 days since she walked properly. She struggles to breathe and cannot stand upright. With the aid of the lightweight travel wheelchair we have been out and about. After 4 days of description of a life that is very hard and a reluctance to eat and miserable conversation I decided to bring in the reserves and recruited my husband for a Saturday afternoon drop in. On arrival Betty instructed me to sort out her soup in the microwave. I had only just walked in the door. No greeting or enquiry as to my well being. " No Mum, you can make your own soup after we have gone". Betty then said to my husband how sorry she was he had to witness me being rude to her. " No Betty he replied, she is not being rude. It is just that she has a great deal of responsibility. Me, 3 boys, her job and you. You need to do things for yourself. The Dr has confirmed you can do it for yourself". It was wonderful to have someone else challenge Betty and stop me being the baddy!
When we said we would be off shortly Betty expressed surprise. " I thought you might be able to take me out". She had the energy for that then! " No Betty - we are en route to the tip to drop off some electrical waste - jobs to do". She ate the soup and expressed regret that she had a long evening ahead of her. Until the next day then!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Dr is so nice!

We had a busy Sunday:  went to the country fair and returned to my home to do some gardening ( Yes Betty was weeding, sitting on the bench and sort of bent double from the waist). Betty reported she was not in a good place on Monday. Aches and Pains and unable to move. " I have never felt as bad as this" she said. The lovely Dr came and checked for Urinary Tract infection - no sign. Chest infection - no sign. Rest and paracetamol were suggested. My sister telephoned from Canada and it was clear that Betty was not in good shape.So often the complaints are about minor things. I was surprised to find Betty was not at all well on Tuesday evening. I stayed until she went to bed at 10, relieved there are wardens on call all day and night.
Tuesday, no improvement. The Dr and I spoke on the phone and he agreed he would see her on Wednesday. He has just called with an update. It seems it is the Heart valve - so we are to see a consultant. Betty feeling brighter. The aches and pains have gone. Lunch was delivered by the wardens. The Dr will call on her next week. I will be back this evening to visit. Relief she was able to rest at home. Hospital and Betty are not a good mix - and you have to pay a fortune for the parking! Fingers crossed we have turned the corner. She said today she told the Dr she wants to see all the grandsons reach 21......5 years to go then!

Monday, 17 September 2012

At the Food Festival

Outdoor events seem easier to manage. Park the car and take out the Asda lightweight wheelchair. Ideal for occasional use. We are straight onto the common where marquees are erected and stalls with outdoor crafts and home made goodies are all around. Interesting how the things that delight children delight Betty. She was delighted to see the pens with animals in. We managed to buy a watch on one stall and then she insisted on a hot donut. Thank goodness they sold singles and we did not need to buy 5! Bumped into friends and shared a drink with them in the tent. Betty fascinated by tales of marital changes and children she has known as babes commencing new stages of education.

I'm Not Very Well

Betty has decided to branch out on her own. We had a week of highlighting the need not to talk about aches,pains and limitations. Betty decided the solution was to find friends with a similar approach to life and they are not to be found in her flats. So, she followed up the link to friends of friends living up the road in a new Abbeyfield development. In addition she has made contact with the local branch of the club she belonged to and presided over in the town where she spend 48 years. A bit different to join up at 86 as opposed to 40! I have to admire her making contact by phone. The hairdo on Thursday was a great success.