They were frequently at her home, responding to a fall (although not usually quite this often). She was invariably bleeding from her head. Miraculously, she hadn’t been seriously hurt in her many falls. Medical transportation usually brought her home after some sutures and a CT scan, where she continued to struggle with the demands of day-to-day life.
While she wasn’t seriously hurt, the falls had certainly taken their toll. Her body was battered and bruised. Both her sleeping and eating patterns were severely mangled, with almost no routine. She ate when she could remember and slept on and off throughout the day and night. She was losing weight, couldn’t think well, and couldn’t participate in any of the things she used to love. Her days were mainly spent pacing around her apartment.
Her son and best friends had to work hard to get her to agree to have even a little help come in to help out. She finally agreed to allow elder care in for short periods, throughout the day and evening. The elder care aides helped her remember to eat and helped her get dressed and use the toilet safely when they were there. Ira stopped falling as long as the elder care aides were present. But, often as not, as soon as they’d leave, down she’d go.
Eventually, her doctor had enough. He told Ira and her son that she needed 24-hour supervision to minimize the falls. Ira was familiar with the elder care aides now and agreed to the plan much more easily than she had previously when everything about it was brand new and unknown.
Ira stopped falling, and the bruises healed up, as expected (or, at least as hoped). What her son and friends hadn’t anticipated though was that her entire life started to change. As her body stopped aching, her restlessness subsided and her appetite returned. She started to sleep better again, which in turn seemed to clear up her confusion.
Though her dementia was still present, much of her confusion and bizarre behavior was reduced. She was able to visit and form positive relationships with the home care aides. She also began to enjoy the company of her son and friends again. She had been so tired, sore, and malnourished for so long that she really hadn’t been able to connect with them in any meaningful way for quite some time.
Ira began listening to music again, and she was able to get out to restaurants to meet her friends, with the help of the home care aides.
The aides were also able to assist her to bathe and maintain better hygiene after incontinence, so her recurrent urinary tract infections all but stopped as well.
Before long, Ira came to really appreciate and love having the help. Her son and her friends were greatly relieved, and loved having their old Ira back!