SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE #underthemask

Getting older is scary. It can be confusing, lonely, isolating. Many families live distant from aging relatives. The pace of 21st century life often leaves sons and daughters with the sad, but inevitable, choice of putting parents in a home. The only way out for most, is in a box, bound for a final resting place.  The COVID crisis has exaggerated this pressure on the elderly, who are thought especially vulnerable to the disease.  Imagine our delight then to read the unusual story of Val on on the South Coast who’s been SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE.

 This is her story, written by her son Glenn:

mother and son

Mum had been in a care home since breaking her hip in December 2019. She has vascular dementia and we three siblings, her attorneys, sat in a ‘best interest’ meeting about her care.

Local authorities generally see family engagement with their elderly drifting downwards, to local care-home provision. This relieves the family of obligation and worry, for their loved ones. But it also leaves the relatives adrift from their responsibilities. Our Enduring Power of Attorney states that, as attorneys, we should support Mum’s interests, as she defines them. That’s even if we disagree. This continues until such a time as Mum has no capacity to make her interests understood.

Living in a care home with Sunday family visits, Mum was becoming institutionalised and depressed. Her greatest wish was to return to familiar surroundings and her partner who lived close to her home. The couple had restricted access to each other since Mum had moved into care. She was drifting away, spending long periods in bed watching TV, complaining about her hip. There was no physiotherapy to aid her recovery and she was reduced to using an NHS ‘shuffle’ frame. Most of the family felt she was in exactly the ‘right’ place. That at least she was safe.

In the ‘best interest’ meeting, counter to the consensus, I spoke out. I seized on an impulse to offer supporting Mum in a two-week trial back home. The professionals seemed enthusiastic, as their usual view of family attitudes brightened. But the family remained concerned. What would happen after my stay? Was I raising hopes of remaining back home that could not be met? We all worried that if the trail failed, Mum would be forced back into the care home, and that would be even worse as a consequence.

After lengthy debate, a reluctant go-ahead, “On your own head be-it!”, was given.

Family feelings did gradually thaw. A new wet room was installed on the ground floor and the house thoroughly cleaned.

In February, I returned to collect Mum, she was sitting excitedly waiting for me. Her house was warm and cosy.

Social Services had been working on a care package since the previous September. It was still not in place by the time of her release from care. During the trial home stay, we finally managed to secure support to include four visits a day with friends stepping-in to assist Mum every morning. With this in place I could leave.

That was February. We’re now in Mid-April. Mum is still at home. She is no longer depressed. She walks better, enjoys choosing her own meals and meeting regularly with her partner (at least until we went into ‘Lock-down’).  They would meet and do crosswords together at their choosing, not during ‘visiting hours’.

The cost of Mum’s care has fallen and the family now shoulders more of her care.  But family are SO seeing the benefits, especially during the time of CORONAVIRUS. There is no telling how long these arrangements will last, as the onset of dementia advances. But we are enjoying Mum, at home, while she is still with us, swimming against the tide.

As we head further into the battle against COVID-19 this story could be seen as an inspiration for families with relatives in residential care. There are reports of elderly residents being persuaded to sign DNR’s, ‘do not resuscitate’ forms. How much more dignified to spend your viable years at home.

#underthemask

HG/16/04/20

 

SWEDEN – MAVERICK CORONA MANAGEMENT – #underthemask

One of the economies we generally look to with awe and admiration has set itself completely apart from the rest of Europe in its approach to the Corona Virus pandemic. We have been watching the Swedish response with interest. But once again, rather than judging from afar we reached out to a National. This is what our friend Brit Eriksson had to say!

 Sweden’s strategy to defeat, or if you prefer to say overcome, coronna stands out and differs greatly from other countries. This is debated a great deal in other countries by both politicians and the media. Many people think that we Swedes are crazy and dig our own grave with our strategy. So it might be!! The time will show….

How we Swedes think…

Everyone in Sweden has its own responsibility to prevent the spread of infection, as well as businesses and companies. We must take our civic responsibility and work to curb the spread of infection as much as possible, so that healthcare is not overloaded.

How do we do it?

By slowing down and spreading the spread of infection over time and mitigate financial consequences. Among other things, we stay at home if we feel sick and have symptoms, have thorough hand hygiene, keep a distance to each other, work from home anyone who can and refuses to travel. Persons over 70 years of age and those belonging to other risk groups should limit their physical close contacts with others and avoid public transport altogether. These people should also avoid shopping in stores or staying in places where people gather.

Businesses are quickly adjusted in a number of ways to best adapt. It is important that we protect our survival after the corona. And most importent everyone needs solidarity, everyone needs to help. We must do what we need to run society and businesses forward, that is, we cannot turn everything down.

I personally think this Corona thing is creepy. And nothing will be the same after. As in all crisis situations, I think staying calm and thinking clearly is preferable to panic. Shutting our society down completely is not a solution. It will cause major and other consequences for humanity afterwards that will reap at least as many people’s lives if not more after Corona.

It’s like a war: You know that many will die, but not how many. You must try to save as many as you can and that is reasonable but at the same time have a strategy that allows those who survive to thrive afterwards. It will take courage, tough decisions and losses. And we need to do it together and not in panic. It comes a day after Corona when we also must be able to live. I hope that we all will learn from this extremely difficult situation and our losses and that we will all develop with the crisis to a better self and healthier existence. So we need to be careful, raise our eyes and try to see the bigger picture! Accept what we can’t change, keep calm and do our best and do what we can every day – although it will sometimes be super difficult and require big sacrifices.

Tt looks like we have actually succeeded in levelling out our care curve. we are able to provide healthcare with existing healthcare institutions. We have not used the field hospitals that we have built up around the country for preventive purposes. And we try to support our local businesses and stores by continuing to shop and live as usual – though with strong restrictions.

We need to reduce the socio-economic consequences afterwards. It will be interesting to see how our corona status develops during the Easter weekend. What we now all hope and cross fingers for is that we achieve herd immunity in our society as soon as possible.

What we all know or should understand is that life after Coronna will be incredibly tough, in a way that we in our current generation cannot understand. Nothing will be like it was before Coronna. People’s future will be about adaptation and tough decisions that we not have experienced before.

Unfortunately, many people seem to think that everything will be as usual – those who do will receive a very tough awakening. It will have its consequences in the form of, among other things, depression and suicide. Natural Law will check that the strong survive. That’s what I think.

I also believe that it is our own attitude to life that will help or overturn us along the way.

The Country is facing growing criticism this week as the country’s death toll topped 1,000. Prime Minister Steffan Lofven has been forced to agree that the approach of ‘low-lockdown’ – with schools, bars, cafes and restaurants remaining open – may not be enough and tougher measures may be needed.

HG 13/04/20 #underthemask