by Christine Eggers, owner of ATH
One of my fondest nursing memories was of a newly minted 90-year-old who lived on his own in the country. His daughter lived on the west coast. She had been visiting every few months and was concerned that he was only eating sandwich cookies, he had had a couple falls, and was becoming a bit of a hoarder. So, she hired me to come out to see him twice a day to fix a meal, make sure he was taking his meds, and help him shower and shave a few times a week.
After a few months of this I went out for my evening visit one night and he asked if he could have my gait belt. He wanted to cinch it around his chest because the thought he’d broken a rib. It turned out he had fallen going out the back door and not only had a broken rib but a head injury as well. I notified his daughter and took him to the ER. He was admitted and spent a few days in the hospital before being discharged to rehab.
While in rehab he was reluctant to participate in therapy, he was losing weight, and seemed more confused. There was no expectation that he could go home, ever. But that’s what he wanted to do. And, his daughter wanted him to have the life of his choosing. So, we assembled a team of nurses and nursing assistants to provide care for him at home.
He came home on Memorial Weekend and with his new 4-wheeled walker took a walk around the farmyard that same day and every day the rest of the summer and fall. He tended to a new litter of barn cats. Each morning, he ate his favorite breakfast of a hard-boiled egg with butter on top and cocoa. He watched his favorite day time TV, Wendy Williams and Ellen. He celebrated July 4 with a firework show in his pasture. Labor Day weekend he watched the grandkids test drive a new 4-wheeler. For Thanksgiving the family came and stayed with him and prepared the meal the way they always had it. He gained most of his weight and strength back and his confusion went away being in his own home. He was there when a fox chased a rabbit through the snow in his yard.
His team drove him wherever he wanted to go. He went to church and to visit his wife’s grave on Sundays. He went out to lunch some days. He went to his barber for haircuts. He attended the neighbor boy’s graduation party. He went to friends’ funerals. He decided what he wanted to do each day. The only place he didn’t get to go was the casino.
He had a few minor illnesses that were treated at home. When he died in December, after a short decline, he was in his bedroom, in the bed he shared with his wife, his daughter at his side. His dream come true.