Sunday, February 2, 2014

The secret to a long life? Keep getting out of bed…

Mom’s routine has settled again with the new hospice provider.  Stephanie comes three times a week – twice to bathe her and once to check in.  Lea, her nurse, comes once a week to check on her.  The social worker stops by and so does the minister.  The minister does a little service once a month and he has Mom sit right next to him for it.  He knows about her many years of being active in her church and uses that to make a connection between them.  She seems to feel right at home sitting there by him.

Mom has also won the fight against pneumonia again.  It developed at the beginning of January when the confusion over the hospice change delayed the administration of Mucinex to help her fight what started as a head cold.  It took a few weeks but she is doing much better and the cough seems to have abated. 

While she is definitely doing better, I notice that each time she battles something it is taking a little bit more of her.  She spends a lot of time snoozing now, sometimes to the point that you think she can’t be comfortable sleeping so hard sitting up.  She wakes up and talks a little, takes care of the baby she is almost always holding, and checks on what is happening around her before nodding off again.
Mom meets her newest great grandchild.
She still eats well at her meals although she is quick to let them know if there is something on her plate that she doesn’t want.  Much like my 5 year old grandson, she refuses to touch anything else on her plate until the offending food is removed.

The wheelchair has become a regular part of her life and she spends a lot of time in it but she still walks with help when she’s feeling chipper.  She’s certainly not ambulatory like she used to be but she hasn’t decided to give up!  They keep an alarm on her (a box attaches to her chair with a cord that attaches to her clothes) to alert them at those times when she decides she wants to get up on her own.  They recently changed the type of alarm when they found her walking around one day holding the box in her hand so it wouldn’t go off.  Leave it to Mom!  

Watching the changes in Mom’s life unfold, it dawned on me recently that there is a reason Mom has lived such a long life.  Each and every morning, she gets out of bed for a new day.  It doesn’t matter if it is a good day or bad or if she is dealing with a sickness such as diarrhea or pneumonia, she gets out of bed.  I don’t remember a day in my life when she has stayed in bed for any reason.

Daddy was the same way.  He had gotten up every day of his life to greet the new day, good or bad, even when Alzheimer’s was getting the best of him.  A week before he lost his ability to walk and went into the nursing home, he ran a quarter mile and jumped three fences.  It took two more years of greeting each new day in the nursing home, unable to walk, before Alzheimer’s finally wore him down.

I’m thankful that Mom and Daddy gave us that example.  I have been retired since I left work to take care of Mom but I still get up at 6:00 am every morning, Monday through Friday, to start my day and help my husband get a good start on his.  I “sleep in” on the weekends until 7:00 am, sometimes 7:30, but I can’t sleep later because I just feel the need to get the day started.  I hope I’ve passed on that need to get started to my children...