Friday, January 16, 2009


John is next of kin to his 98 year old aunt Florence, who fifteen years ago moved to a retirement community near us. She's actually cognitively pretty sharp but tends to be obsessive and critical so he has refused to tell her even that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. I did get him to have her list me as backup on her health care power of attorney. Today she called John to say she needed a ride home from the hospital--they were releasing her after determining that she had fractured her pelvis.

I had an important work meeting and John said he didn't need me (and I realized I needed to let go quickly of "if I don't do it myself it won't get done right"). He took her back to her apartment but the retirement community administrator thankfully decided Florence needed to be in the "health care center" (nursing home) and they took her to a room there. John was pretty shaken by the whole thing--his parents both died when he was in high school and college so she has been his closest family member for a long time.

John came home for supper and then we both went back to see her. I wrote down the long list of Florence's food requirements and the precise times when she wants her medicines, as well as a long list of things to bring from her apartment tomorrow. She was worried that she only had one slipper because she saw it as very important that she not put her feet on the floor. Actually, it is going to be a while before she gets out of bed. John was very glad I was there; I think he was better able to manage the crisis stage this afternoon than the details that she was thinking about this evening. Unfortunately the doctor she knows best is on vacation for the next week. In this small town the doctor covering for him is John's doctor, so at least we know him, but he doesn't know Florence well to mediate between her precise ideas of what she needs for her health and what is realistic in a nursing home.

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