Backed into a corner
Working with the elderly has given me a certain perspective on life that others perhaps share, but don’t have it presented to them all the time like I do where I work. As we age we are at least for most of us, slowly but surely backed into a corner, were finally a place is reached, often feared by most, in which they have arrived at the point in their lives where they need to be taken care of. Once vibrant, strong and independent people are faced with the reality that their life of freedom, once taken for granted is now no more, and a new stage of life has dawn upon them.
Some seem able to accept it, though I am sure there is an inner struggle that goes with that acceptance. Others fight it, some more and others less, but in the end of the battle the conclusion is arrived at, that the need to be cared for is accepted or at least tolerated.
Right now one of the men I am taking care off is in the midst of going thru that process of adaptation and acceptance. For the most part he has accepted the being backed into a corner, but now that the corner has been reached, he is starting to buck a little and I have to hopefully help him to find some peace about it. He is overweight, partly due to the fact that for the last three years or so he has been able to do very little in the way of exercise; hence it takes very little for him to put on weight, which further hinders his ability to be active. What finally got him backed into ‘this’ corner, which may very well be ‘the’ corner, is something very simple really; he hit his big left toe with his cane, which has gotten worse over the course of a couple of weeks. Yesterday he could hardly walk, their was so much pain, so we moved him into the full care ward and put him to bed. I talked to him and let him know that the doctor wants him to stay in bed for a month, until his toe heals, and for the fist few days, because he may forget and try to get out of bed, which could lead to a fall, which because of his weight could cause a broken hip or worse, the bed rails will be kept up and he needs to call if he needs anything, or needs help to go to the bathroom.
My worry is that because of his weight and the weakness of his legs, which will only increase because of bed rest; we may not be able to get him out of bed, and I will not allow those who work here to endanger their backs. Bed rest does cause atrophy of the muscles, so his being backed into a corner is becoming easier to see. This may make it impossible for him to regain his strength. We will work on bringing his weight down, though it will be a struggle. No matter what you do, something else comes up that can cause further problems, and that is what we are faced with
Last night he became very angry with me since he used to doing certain things that he cannot now do. So we talked for awhile, and discussed how he is going to have to adapt to this new level of care, that hopefully in a month or sooner, when his toe heals, and he can walk without extreme pain, we can get in a therapist to hopefully build up his strength so he may be able to get back to walking again. This seemed to help, but I think more talks will be needed.
I sometimes think that the experience of old age takes the most courage and faith to live thru. I am amazed at the grace in which most people seem able to navigate this time of life, and those who don’t are for the most part not responsible for their troubles. Some just can’t adapt, and care givers know not to take their anger and frustrations personally, if they did they would last about two weeks, if that long in the profession.