Visiting Mom - Day 11 - Departure

On this date in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act, which guaranteed an income for the unemployed, disabled, and retirees. I cannot imagine how Mom would have survived without these benefits from a resource perspective.

For the old and the old-old, changing body position throughout the day is a key to avoiding discomfort and skin breakdown. Mom is mobile, so the combination of room-to-room mobility during the day, and an electric recliner, which enables her to change her sitting position on occasion, eliminates this as a problem she (and we) have to address. For the less mobile, positional change is very important for maintenance of the best possible health. This can be challenging to those who are chair bound or require a significant amount of assistance to transfer in and out of a bed or a chair. Frequently confinement to a chair for extended periods leads to circulatory stagnation in the legs, and areas where there is constant pressure confined to a very limited area, usually the ischial tuberosity (butt). Pain in that area, or radiating pain down the leg (sciatica) and venous stasis ulcers of the legs are often the result. Minimal re-positioning at intervals of 1-2 hours can be very helpful in mitigation of these issues. Multiple position recliners work well for this application.

Please bear with me as I digress to a subject that isn't about Mom, yet may be of interest for those caring for someone in a wheelchair, how to provide some relief from sitting in one position for hour after hour. For those caring for someone who is confined to a wheelchair, locking the wheels and tilting the chair backwards so that the handles of the wheelchair rest on a chair placed behind the wheelchair is a helpful technique. The wheelchair needs to be tilted far enough so that the weight of the person in the wheelchair biases the wheelchair farther backward as opposed to going back to original sitting position. Usual prerequisites for doing this would be someone who does not move around much in the chair, two pillows at the head (placed in the chair) so the person's head does not go too far backward, and putting the person's legs in the leg rests of the wheelchair so they don't bend too far back at the knees. It also requires an act of faith on the part of the person enjoying such a wheelchair tilt. I have taught this maneuver to many family members, who are caring for a wheelchair bound elder, and I am not aware of any untoward incidents; this usually provides a comfortable nap opportunity for the wheelchair bound in addition to pressure point relief. Nonetheless, I am disclaiming that this is without risk, and doing this involves risk that should be assessed and minimized in each individual situation before undertaking. When weighing the risk, think about the last time you were sitting too long in the same position in a chair, or particularly when driving, necessitating some squirming about to relieve pressure. Then consider not being able to change position without assistance.

Today ends my tenure as substitute care provider. I have memories with Mom that I cherish and will be able to cherish going forward.

“What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Take it one day at a time. Richard

P.S. No card games today-headed home on a winning streak!

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