When I started this blog, I wrote about a neighbor in my building. K was sort of my hero: after she retired from a fulfilling career, she embarked on filling out her bucket list. She did some stand up comedy, wrote a book, raised money for organizations that were important to her, vowed to never leave the city that energized her. And I told you that she was beginning to forget things, how her family got her a home aide worker to assist her.
Over a year later, I see that her quality of life decreased. A few weeks ago my daughter entered the apartment saying- “Do you know there are police in the lobby?” Turns out that K had called the police on her aide worker- she claimed that someone had broken into her apartment. She didn’t recognize the woman that had been with her all this time.
Another retired neighbor had a fall last year. The fall itself wasn’t too bad as far as falls go- she went to the Doctor and apart from some bruises she was fine. Except that fall seemed to break her in other ways. This once robust, vital woman seemed to shrivel as time went by. Last month she fell again, this time in her apartment. Her friend had tried repeatedly to reach her by phone, and when she didn’t hear back, the friend called the doorman, who went into the apartment. S had been on the floor for twelve hours, unable to move or get to her phone. She was taken to the hospital where they discovered she has pneumonia. After a stay there, she was moved to a facility where she can recuperate. They have no idea when she will be well enough to return home. She was in the process of selling her apartment and buying a new place in Florida. Those dreams are on hold now, and perhaps forever.
I remember a time in the not so distant past when I made fun of those devices that you wear- the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” things. Now I’m considering buying them in bulk for everyone I know.
I worry that my Father will fall and my Mother will try to help him and she will fall as well. The other day I called my neighbor who is in her seventies. As she normally responds back to me within a few hours, I got nervous when Friday turned into Saturday and I hadn’t heard from her. I actually asked the doorman if he had seen her. (it turns out she went to Jersey to spend the day with her niece and she refuses to keep her cell phone on….)
But you get the idea…
As we get older, our bodies and minds will change. Like it or not, someone will need to keep an eye out on us. As independent people, this is going to be a hard change. I don’t like the idea of someone needing to check in on me. But I fear it’s inevitable. The women who fell in our building- this wasn’t the first time this happened to one of my neighbors. And I know it will not be the last time either.
As much as it pains me to think that I might need to rely on someone else, I can’t help but worry- what if there is no one around? And I don’t just mean for me. My next door neighbor is completely anti social (we jokingly call her witness protection) I’ve lived next door to her for nineteen years- she has never had anyone come to visit her. She works from home and doesn’t go out much. Would anyone know if she fell? If she was hurt?
I accept the wisdom that comes with age. I accept the wrinkles and the grey hair. And I must accept that there are things that even I can’t control, things that no list or organizational tool can stop. Our bodies and minds will not be as supple as they are now. No matter what we do, time marches on, and begins to march over us.