Sunday, 20 July 2008

Trying hard to cope

I'm back home, sort of. I'm actually house sitting in a house not far from where my husband and I live when things are "normal". I arrived home from China via Singapore on July 7th, and learned that my mother had been in hospital, so I arranged to go to Adelaide and visit her and my father.

My father celebrated his 89th birthday on July 16th - so we had a small party, but his life is difficult as he is my mother's carer. My mother is 92 years of age, and slowly but surely she is "losing it." She is often confused, and despite her protestations that she cleans every day, cooks every day and carries on as normal, the reality is that she has been doing very little for a long time.

She fell in her room one night about 2 am and broke several ribs as it turns out. Dad woke and helped her back to bed and in the morning tried to get medical help for her. Not easy as I will explain later. Mum's story is that it happened during the day, and it was deliberate as she was throwing her jewelry onto a cupboard. Not true, Mum.

Dad called the doctor in the morning, but was told the doctor does not do house calls. Not in fact true - but the reality is that it was a hospital/ambulance situation, and it took several hours for an ambulance to arrive. When the took the x-rays, they reported no injury and sent for Dad to take Mum home. It was obvious to him when she returned home that she and he could not cope, and eventually she was admitted to hospital. (Later, it was found that she had broken several ribs - whoever read the x-ray initially did not notice!!!!!)

Mother spend nearly two weeks in hospital - but her mental state deteriorated which was possibly due to her medication. They gave her pain killers, and increased her other medication, and it appears there was some conflict.

I do get the impression that if someone is in their 90's there's not a lot done for them.

In any case Mum was eventually taken home, but it was clear from my conversations with both Mum and Dad that all was not well.

My sister had been in regular contact with them and visited Mum in hospital - but the reality is that there needed to be an "advocate" for my mother and father. Someone with some medical/nursing knowledge.

That is where I come in! As an ex nurse I have some expertise - though I am unfamiliar with the system in South Australia. It is not easy to manage a situation like this. Like many elderly people they refuse all assistance. I had to be very sneaky to get information and support.

My "walk around the neighbourhood" was not about exercise, but I found my way to the doctor's surgery and spoke with the nurse practitioner. For some reason they thought all was well with my parents. They put on a "show" indicating all is well - such is their desire to remain at home without needing to go to retirement accommodation.

I managed to make phone calls to support services. I managed to meet her doctor and attempt to inform him of the challenges that my parents face. In time I might get the support services they need to remain at home. It is obvious they cannot remain at home without some support. But neither of them are nursing home material yet - if they can get some support.

So I've been in Adelaide for a few days, and still have spend little time at home, and little time catching up on things I need to.

One of the hard decisions I will have to make is whether to return to China at the end of August. All is in place to do so, but I worry about my parents.

Meanwhile if I can catch up on some sleep, I might get around to updating this blog with the photos and information from two amazing weeks - one in Shanghai and one in Singapore.

Tomorrow maybe.

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