What a time of it we’ve had these past couple of weeks! No sooner had we got our own house straight after the central heating installation, then it was time to move my 92 year old mother into very sheltered housing. For months she has been resisting the move, unwilling to change and accept that she needs more support. Even when we had taken her to view the flat a second time she was still unconvinced, and despite encouragement from Social Services, the district nurses and us, she was still shaking her head and asking for more time.
Finally her social worker gave her another two weeks, and told her that others on the housing list were just as needy as her, and unless she could make up her mind, then she would be taken from the top of the housing list and placed at the bottom. It might be another year or two before she could be considered again. This ultimatum gave her the jolt she needed to agree to move.
The moving day was Monday 1st August. Luckily Monday was the day the hairdressers visited, and so Mum was able to have her hair done down in the complex’s salon for the occasion. This served a double purpose in getting her out of the flat so that the removal men could do their work. It was then Stevie’s job to find her a good spot in the garden so that she could read her newspaper and eat her lunch, whilst trying to fend off questions as to whether she should go back to her rapidly-emptying flat to ‘help’.
Whilst sitting in the garden I had a fascinating conversation with another elderly resident, who had been born and brought up in a close-knit Yorkshire mining village before Mrs Thatcher’s heyday. She wandered out and seemed to want to tell me her whole life story. Mum had heard it thousands of times, but it was the first time for me. Apparently all the men in her village were miners, and worked ‘down t’pit’. Due to inhaling a lifetime of coal dust, they were ‘finished’ by the age of 60 or had already died. The ones who could not look after themselves and had no living relatives were taken in by another family (not necessarily related), who used their front room (more often than not left unused and kept for ‘best’) as a bedroom for the poor old miner who was on his last legs and needed 24 hour care.
Can you imagine this happening today? Elderly infirm people were obviously looked after very well by the community then, instead of spending their last days alone and frightened as some of them tend to be now. Between her carers and ourselves, luckily Mum has the best of care now, and she is slowly coming to realise this fact.
It’s taken us 2 days to get her new flat straight, but the change in her is drastic. She loves the extra space, especially now that we’ve set up her piano/organ in a spare bedroom (there hadn’t been room for it in the old one-bedroom flat). She’s walking around instead of sitting and moping, and seems more interested in life. Carers, nurses, and Meals-on-Wheels are coming in and out on a regular basis, and she’s smiling and chatting to new faces instead of telling everyone that she wants to die. Sometimes an elderly person just needs that little bit of a push to make what remains of their life more pleasant.
After I’ve babysat my granddaughters on Thursday, with a bit of luck I might be able to get back to doing some writing in the very near future!