New Year Brings New Care Giving Challenges

Orthopedic implants to repair fractures to the...
Orthopedic implants to repair fractures to the radius and ulna. Note the visible break in the ulna. (right forearm) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have just entered a new year and a new era in our caregiving.  It has gotten more involved and more intense  during the last week.  Dad has fallen several times because of muscle weakness and has fractured several ribs and broken his wrist.

We discovered all of this partly by accident on Saturday after our barber came by to cut Dad’s hair. He noticed the swelling of the arm and  told my Dad in no uncertain tones that he needed to go to the neighborhood clinic ironically named Neighbor MD.  Sometimes it takes an outsider to make the points.  Aging parents don’t always listen to us, of course.

My  nephew and I were able to get Dad into Neighbor MD before they closed.  After long series of  x-rays we received the bad news.  We were told to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on Monday.

The good news is  we were given a CD of the x-rays so they won’t have to be taken again.  We’ve also discovered a good pleasant place to go for emergencies which is an alternative to that dreaded emergency room.

Monday’s visit gave us the bad news.  It was a bad break of the ulna bone and it will take three months in a cast.  They wrapped him up in a mummy -like orange cast for the colors of University of Tennessee.  It’s bright and probably glows in the dark for all we know.

Had he been younger they would have done surgery and it would have healed faster, but because of his age, (86) they ruled that option out.

We will have to make changes to our living arrangements.  Both Mother and Dad need more help now with daily needs.  Currently, my brother and I are working all of that out but we’re new at this and are learning on the job.

One example is my brother bought a baby monitor for Dad’s room.  It’s  loud and takes some getting used to, but if young parents can do it, I guess we can too.  We finally figured that thing out and it does help.  I knew exactly when he was getting up during the night.

Today, I’ll be out trying to buy a frame for his bed.  We bought one for mother a few months ago and it has been a lifesaver.  The frame sits on the floor and will make your mattresses much lower so you can get in and out of the bed much easier.  For around $100 it is good money spent well.

All of this goes on as my brother and I try to keep up our daily schedules.  I still have to meet with the painter to redo one of our condos this morning- still have to take care of another tenant’s complaints about his carpet, etc.  Property management goes on 24/7 regardless.

Throughout it all, we have a lot to be thankful for.  My brother was telling us about a teacher at David Lipscomb University.  The man’s father was placed in hospice care yesterday and he has to drive to Birmingham to be with him.  Then he will drive back to Nashville to teach one class on Wednesday morning.  At least all of us are in the same town with our parents.

Another one of my brother’s friends has revealed they don’t think his father will live past Thursday.  They are making funeral plans now.

We’re at a difficult time in our lives, but by helping each other we can face our new challenges in care giving.



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