The System Firsthand

Grandma and me

Grandma is 93.  The matriarch of my family is in worsening health, and her decline is difficult to observe.  We all experience the travails of the US health care system at some point, and in my family’s case, ours is no exception.  The stress on my mom and aunt is considerable, and my grandmother is increasingly alarmed at her frailty and poor memory.

Through July of 2010, she was independent.  She walked daily, traveled, drove (that is another story), and enjoyed her brainteaser and crossword puzzles.  By all accounts, she was happy, albeit with the usual pangs of age.  She took no medication.

Last summer that changed when she fell and underwent a 3-day hospital stay.  Her memory was not the same and her gait was unsteady thereafter.  It was a minor stroke.

After discharge, her functional status worsened, and the vicious cycle we all witness as docs—setback beget setback—reared its head.

My mom sold the house, and grandma moved into an assisted living facility, a lovely place, but it was not home.  Her refrains, “the food and company are lousy, and I am depressed and lonely,” along with an assortment of other issues —all upsetting, given the vitality of this woman until recently—presented and intensified.  Relocation trauma is a known condition, but one you would differentiate only if you witnessed it firsthand.  I am now familiar with a (new) geriatric term.Continue reading…