“Well look who's arrived from North Carolina, Mom. Its Brother Richard” announces my eldest brother, Bud upon my arrival at my Mom’s apartment in Bangor, Maine.
“Well hello, Dear” says my Mom.
“Hi Mom” I replied as we exchange hugs.
Mom is in her favorite chair watching her favorite movie Pride and Prejudice on DVD. She watches others also, but this is viewed daily. As Bud says, “There are not too many questions about this movie that we cannot answer!”
Before you jump to conclusions, there is no dementia here, she's just old. One hundred and six and one-third (yes, in my opinion fractions are appropriate at both ends of the spectrum). We don't know if she's the oldest resident in the State, but she's definitely in the hunt. She was born in 1908, when coffee was 15 cents a pound, and a gallon of gas was 2 cents. Gas was pretty much a non-issue for most folks because most didn’t own a vehicle, if it wasn’t horse powered, the living kind.
Inevitably, I begin the mental comparison between Mom now and Mom 6 months ago when I last saw her. Still overriding that is the pleasure to see her again. And believe me, it is a genuine pleasure, as she never complains about anything! In her mind, she has no reason to complain. I believe she is correct in that regard.
Thus begins my vacation as I take the baton from Bud, who is leaving for his vacation tomorrow. I was going to say as a substitute care provider, but that is not quite the reality. Oh, I'll provide meals, either at home or when we go out, do a bit of cleaning, load her movies, and facilitate her drinking enough water during the day, but she will ascend and descend the thirteen steps that lead to her upstairs bedroom and only bathroom, dress in the morning and dress for bed in the evening. She'll also play card games daily, as we did today. Often I get the first game or two, sort of a welcome home, but I guess she was not feeling as welcoming today-I lost the game of rummy by 25 points.
Why is this post relevant? Because my Mom started down the health slippery slope with a diagnosis of congestive heart failure 7 years ago at age 99. She had to sleep sitting in an easy chair because lying flat in bed caused shortness of breath, taking only a few steps before flopping into a chair (shortness of breath). She was being prescribed medications commonly prescribed to congestive heart failure patients. This was when the Treadwell® System was in development stage. Seven years ago, as soon as I heard the news of her declining health, I traveled to Maine with a prototype device and started her on a regimen of treadling twice a day. There are time and total revolution counts that are pertinent and too deep in the weeds for purposes of this blog. I was convinced from experience with system users to date that treadling would do her no harm and potentially could help. And did it ever help! Within a couple of days, she was able to sleep through the night in her bed again. And within 2 months, her symptoms of congestive heart failure had disappeared. Now, seven years later her congestive heart failure diagnosis is part of her medical history, but not germane to her day to day activities.
Mom has retired for the evening. It was a good day for us, having taken two short walks, having a couple of good meals, performing her daily routine of 2 sessions with the Treadwell® System and, of course, the card game.
If you are thinking about getting old, or foresee caring for an elderly person, perhaps reading of this blog will prove beneficial, as I will try to relate some of the issues facing the aged. Today's takeaways are drink plenty of liquids (coffee does not count here, although Mom starts her day with a cup). Dehydration is endemic in the elderly, and often in the not so elderly. Since its summertime, pieces of watermelon are often preferable to “Here, drink this!” Hope yours was a good day, also. Richard