why put an elderly relative in a care home ?


When my Mother was getting older and clearly needing a hand in every day life, I considered having her here in my home, with a lock on both sides of her bedroom door so she couldn't wander around at innapropriate moments, and everyone talked me out of the idea. I thought it would be nice for her to be with family and spend the end of her days in a friendly environemnt where she felt safe.

How wrong could I have been. I would not have been able to cope with her needs and only professionals would know what to do for her best interest.

She had her own flat and instead of moving her into my place, it was decided she got herself one of those warden assisted flats with the red pull cord and she was warned that as she would be downsizing in order to move in - as she had to get rid of a lot of stuff in order to fit - she could / would be depressed for the first few weeks as she got use to downsizing and knowing that this would probably be the last move she would make. After a grand life on stage as a fashion model, singer and actress it was sad to see her like this, but inevitable.


One day while I was there she took an age on the toilet and I called into the bathroom to see if she was okay - and while she kept saying she was fine, I knew otherwise and told her ' I'm coming in' - and joked before I went in about not worrying if I saw bits I had not seen since I was born, which made her laugh - and there she was on the toilet unable to get up - and she looked exhausted from trying.


I was not amused and told her off, gently, as I was there and if she ever needed help, I WAS RIGHT THERE - and I then had to dictate to her over and over to make sure she got it, that if at any time she could not get off the loo - or she had a fall and could not get up, or if she couldn't get out of bed - TO PULL THE RED CORD THAT WAS IN EVERY ROOM and someone would eventually come to help. I explained that there are no rewards for being a martyr. No rewards for being foolish. No rewards If she is found hours later and she gets herself all upsent because she choose - SHE CHOOSE not to ask for help, and if that is the case, you have to accept you may be stuck on the loo until you pass out and die. Frightening her like this was sometimes the only way of getting through to her. She was a stubborn women who always wanted to do everything her way, even to the detriment of everyone around her and ultimately, herself.


Trouble is, being a centralised emergency system - the red pull emergency cord - too many times - no one came and she was abandoned to stay on the floor until the paramedics or myself arrived and then even we could not get into the building as the Red Pull Cord Company were detrimental in their duties and were not doing what we were paying for - so complaints flowed in and told that if they were incapable of doing a simple job then maybe the local paper and local social services needed informing and BOY did they buck their ideas up after that.


The Alan Bennet Play ' A Cream Cracker Under the Settee' with Thora Hird is a typical case of an old lady stuck on the floor not wanting to make a fuss and not wanting to shout for help and so does nothing and eventually dies on the floor - and by not making a fuss - by not calling out, no one knows she is there and death follows. I completely appreciate the need for privacy and being able to cope and not giving in to old age ...' I can do it myself ' - and completely understand the frustration that comes from not being able to do what was so easy some decades beforehand, and I remember once - when my car broke down and I had to push it into the side of the street my Mother went to get out of the car to give me a hand pushing it to the curb, and as I stated ... ' Mother dear, you are 82, I think you can sit this one out ' - and she laughed and saw my point.

WATCH IT HERE

It is a sad day for anyone when they move into care, and being gentle with them is important. My Mothger lived for 4 years until she became too ill to be alone and ended up with dementia in a home and eventually passed away when she was 89, not really knowing where she was or what was going on and I swear, she would have begged me decades beforehand - had she known how she would end her days - to put a pillow over her face as she slept to save her from this.


Old age and infirmity comes to most of us and planning ahead helps and I do not want to end as my Mother ended and will take matters into my own hands before that comes into fruition. We all are on the same journey and cannot rely on family and friends and must make sure we have plans in place. It's up to you and no one else. Life is too precious and beautiful to end it in an unnatractive fashion. I have control over my life and I intend having control over my death if and when the time is right and my health is failing. Hopefully, not for a few more decades yet to come.


John Bellamy


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