The alternative to care-giving

fairegoldAugust 5, 2006

My husband just got a call from his 90 yr old uncle at 9:30 tonight. Seems that the other remaining brother (there had been 4 including Jim's father) passed away recently at about age 82 (I'm not exactly sure of the age). George's wife Helen had had AD, and George had cared for her for years, before she died 2 or 3 years ago. Their two children lived elsewhere, many states away, and George was alone. He kept in touch with his brother (we aren't close to his kids---they live far away, and we are 500 miles away, too) and his children called with great regularity.

Anyway, George did not take care of himself, and died in bed about a week ago, The mailman reported it, and someone found him and called the family. The house was a mess, and had been for years. (This is a home in a very expensive part of Palm Springs, BTW). I don't know what he died of.

I am not faulting George's kids or any of his family, including us. George, like many in his position, was accustomed to taking care of himself and didn't have the feedback to know otherwise. His kids took him at face value, as in "I just talked to Dad and he is fine."

So please, pay attention to the people in your life who are like George. Even if you are not taking care of someone, pay attention to the elderly in your neighborhood. Keep in touch. Give some feedback. Encourage them to get a Life-Alert alarm, or remind them to keep a doctor's appointment.

Who knows if it might have made a difference with George, but please don't forget that even the proudest ones, the ones who will not ask for help, and will tell everyone that they are fine, sometimes will need help.

And bless all of you who are caretakers.

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I'd like this post to just drop away. I was upset when I made it, thinking that if George had talked to his kids, talked to anyone, this might not have happened this way.

There was a lovely service a couple of weeks ago, and George will be terribly missed. He was a true gentleman trough and through.

So just let this thread drop away.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 2:45PM
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Easy to see how you felt when you wrote it, Fairegold. But maybe George lived and died the way he wanted, independently. strictly for myself, I'd rather die alone.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 3:29PM
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I'm sorry that you feel that way, honestly. Living alone and independent is a far diferent thing from dying alone and not having your body found for days.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 6:53PM
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Fairegold, it happens with younger people too... It happened to my best friend last year... He was only 62 years old... He did not live alone, he was married and had two boys who usually stopped by 5 or 6 time a week... He had tons of friends who talked to him on a regular basis, at least once a week and a few every day... We used to exchange e-mail 10 to 15 times a day... Yet he died alone and wasn't discovered for 3 days...

His wife was out of town, visiting with her family... He had been at his oldest sons house on a Friday night and sent me e-mail when he got home saying he had a long day and was heading for bed... On Saturday I sent a few more e-mails but I wasn't too worried that I didn't receive any replies because I figured he was working on one of his classic cars or went to one of the car shows... Sunday morning when he still hadn't answered any of my mail I called... The phone only rang... He was found, by his youngest son, Monday morning, lying on the kitchen floor, dead...

He had an aortic aneurism so ( thank God ) it was quick but for a man with a large family and hundreds of friends

    Bookmark   September 2, 2006 at 10:35PM
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Ritaotay, I am so sorry to hear this. We just heard of a loss here. In fact this was the RN who was in charge of the assisted living services where Mother used to live. She was only 53. I don't know what caused her death, but her daughter, who lives close by, found her.

I know that it happens. But I know that in the case of DH's Uncle George, that George's children are consumed with guilt. And I don't blame them in any way for what happened, I can only wish that George had closer friends/support/whatever.

I volunteer at our local Alliance on Aging as a senior peer counselor. My 84 yr old client, I made sure that she signed up for LifeLine and also that the neighbor checks in with her every day.

No, falling over dead can happen to any of us. It happened to my best friend in 2002, she was only 42 and suffered a pulmonary embolism, with her husband right there with her at the time.

But I'd like to have our independent elderly clients have someone who checks in with them daily, or they have a LifeALert, or that their families are at least calling more than once a month.

Don't you agree?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2006 at 12:36AM
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