I write provocative and thoughtful prose, addressing profound issues with an authentic voice.

Elderly Care – Making Decisions for Parents

Posted on December 12th, by Harriet in Being Well. No Comments

It can be strange and uncomfortable when we suddenly find ourselves having to take responsibility for our parents. These people, often, took care of us when we were tiny, taught us most of what we needed to know about the world, made decisions about where we lived, our education and our health. They helped us through teenage difficulties and gave advice (which we might or might not have taken) when we were launched on the world as young adults. The reality of beginning to make decisions about their care, their health and even their financial affairs is a shock even if we know it is likely to happen.

Every family’s situation is different. I have come across so many varied circumstances. Children, siblings, nieces and nephews may all be called to take on responsibilities and decisions, sometimes formally, sometimes less so. The weight of responsibility is usually heavy as no-one wants this. The fact that our elderly relatives need such help is sad, and the fact that we are the people called on to provide it reminds us that we are now real grown-ups. There is no-one else to turn to, no-one to tell us if we are getting it right … Read More »

The place of informality in elderly care – 1

Posted on December 10th, by Harriet in Being Well. No Comments

When my mother was about my age, she spent two years caring for her elderly aunt. She moved her into her own house, cooked, fetched and carried and dealt with doctors and hospitals. My aunt’s name was Connie Pledger and in those days, 30 years ago, professional people still addressed clients and patients with some formality. Mother would receive phone calls about ‘Mrs Pledger’ and she couldn’t help correcting them by saying ‘Miss Pledger.’ It was important to her, as it was to Connie, to get it right. Proper, formal manners were synonymous with respect. As my mother always said, ‘good manners are a sensitivity to the feelings of others.’ It was a small but important thing, a little campaign to ensure Connie was honoured and respected in every possible way up to the end of her life.

Things have changed. As my mother became more and more unwell, during the past few years, she had to get used to doctors, nurses, carers and just about everyone else she encountered, calling her Caroline instead of Mrs Stack. After a while she began to appreciate the friendliness and the sense of connection that comes with using a given name, rather than a … Read More »

Coming back to the world

Posted on December 9th, by Harriet in Being Well. 4 comments

Gently does it.

This is my first post for a long time and first public writing since losing my mother two months ago. I have written about my parents before, about their disabilities and about grief, but in the last few years I have learned a whole lot more about being an adult child of a frail elderly parent. There is plenty to share but as it’s very personal and still raw I need to do that carefully.

So here is a start. There is so much about the experience of elderly care that is invisible. For most of us, most days, residential and nursing homes are just buildings that we pass during the course of our busy lives. And care at home is the glimpse of a sign-written vehicle or a uniformed carer letting themselves into a home. None of us want to think about whether our relatives will need this type of care or even whether, in time, we will need it ourselves. It isn’t an attractive subject so it’s easily ignored.

Until it happens to us.

It’s a terribly painful situation to be in, to realise that your elderly parent, who may be frightened or confused, needs care beyond what … Read More »