My mom called me one day and was very confused and said "something's really wrong." She couldn't really articulate what that was but I changed my plans and went down to visit her the next day. She lived 3 hours away from me and I wasn't really sure what to expect. What I found was a confused 76 year old woman who wasn't exactly sure why she was confused. She has low blood pressure and was definitely having issues with this known problem but she was also just generally confused. We went to visit her doctor and talk about what could be going on and he did a blood test but sort of intimated that perhaps it was just aging.
We went about our business and had a nice night and the next morning received an urgent call from her doctor asking her to go to the hospital straight away because her potassium level was lethally low. After a long day of tests and evaluations she was admitted to the hospital and was there for a week. When my mother left the hospital, she came home with me, 3 hours from her home. She's never returned to her home or her friends or her life and for that she is deeply saddened.
What happened? My mom had not been managing her meds, had not been eating regularly and as a result had slipped into a state of confusion as a result of her electrolytes being out of balance. It was about 6 weeks before she was back to a normal baseline but by then she had finally let go of hiding the fact that she just wasn't able to take care of herself any more and agreed to move into an assisted living facility near me. It was easily 6 months before my mother was able to function in a truly independent way again. In this time period she started gaining the weight that she had been losing, taking her meds regularly, was no longer dehydrated and felt safe and secure and cared for. She was finally able to relax and just live the life that she was capable of again.
The distance from her friends and removal from her social situation was devastating to her. She was suddenly dependent on family, which was a foreign concept to her. And, in addition, she was both living independently while in an assisted living facility. Her loneliness and depression and anxiety were palpable and it's taken a good two years to get her back to a healthy, happy space.
If she had had access to tools where we could easily share information, or have someone have the sole purpose of doing a health and emotional check-in with no other reason than to check-in with her ... she might still be in her home or at least the town that she had lived in for 50 years with her friends and community.
There's nowhere near enough support and services for people as they age - either with support or fully independently - and stories like this can have happier endings with services and support like Grandpal offers.
As kindly told to us by Jenny Lawton.
Do you have a heart-warming or eye-opening short story around an older loved one or that celebrates ageing? Let us know here and help spread the positivity!