I spend a lot of time with the infirm and the unintelligible yet still grapple with the conflict of psychological -v- physical deterioration in my old age. Given the choice, which would I prefer? Whatever happens, loss of the ability to care for oneself marks the beginnings of forced dependence. Those simple words: “Sorry Mr B, according to our assessment you are no longer able to care for yourself”. The world turns and nothing will ever be the same again.
There are some things I could have lived quite happily without, one is an A4 coloured photo of my dads bum, scarily close to all the surrounding bits with an ever so colourful pressure sore, about five months in the making before detection. Enter the cavalry.
There is a cast of tens involved in this one. They all have a form to fill out, privacy things to discuss, another assessment, a care plan and extra things to buy.
Not only does a very damaged bum cause medical intervention, it opens up a whole new world. There are now special foods, special dressings, special bed coverings and cushions. The highlight is four times a week in-home nursing care and dad’s absolute joy of standing naked in the shower with a vast array of nursing staff for the minimal cost of $10 a day.
By virtue of dads sore bum, I’ve also gained involuntary entry into the aged care health system. I get phone calls from some very well meaning people. They want to give me advice about respite care, dietary needs, shower stools, carpet placement, bowel habits and overall general welfare. I can be perceived as a perpetrator or martyr all in one day, depending on which agency I’m talking to. Bureacracy is fascinating.
Old age is where things are ‘done to’ one, particularly if you don’t have the capacity to stand firm and verbalise needs. It’s not as simple as a form, it’s more about understanding that the person you are caring for will agree with anything because he is deaf and his first response is always “yes”. It’s like watching someone being woken up for the purpose of taking them to the toilet. It’s nearly mealtime so it has to be done. It’s all for your own good!