Aging in Community: Caring from a Distance
A few weeks ago, I got “THE CALL.” The call will likely come to each of you one day, most likely out of the clear blue when you least expect it, although you may have seen the handwriting on the wall that it would be coming.
I saw the warning signs spray-painted in day-glow colors – but it did not stop the first fall that my stepmother Lucile took; nor the second fall she had a day later that took my father tumbling down with her. Lucile, 86 years old, ended up in the hospital for a week and is now in a skilled nursing facility trying to regain enough strength and mobility to come back home. Dad ended up with 2 cracked ribs, and while he can recuperate at home, has limited mobility – which for an active person, is its own internment.
Both Lucile and dad are equally helpless, bored and lonely. Should Lucile not be able to come home, it will get worse for both of them. For the first time, I have not been able to be physically there for a family crisis. My sister Alice went for the first two weeks, but now they are each on their own. We call daily to support them the best we can from a distance, but there are few visitors; there is no aging in community infrastructure to support them in Tampa.
I am brewing a plan, one that will require me to invite in family, neighbors, friends, acquaintances, even strangers. Can one build an environment for aging in community from a distance? Stay tuned… we shall see!