Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tough Choices for Elderly, Family

The elderly and frail Mary and Betty are sisters who live in Madison Heights, MI.

They would die if they were moved to an assisted living residence, away from the home
they have cherished for over four decades now.

Like other wise and aging sages, they struggled the other day with their future.

Their deacon and pastor met with them for over three hours, while their niece helped sort out a complicated situation.

Most of Mary and Betty's relatives move in and out of their comfortable home as they juggle family and work obligations first.

"I feel all alone," Betty complained, "and, I cannot sleep as I worry," she added, while Mary, at least five years older, sat patiently listening.

Betty claims she's been caregiver for Mary, and, anxiety and stress keeps her from sleeping much day and night.

Sitting in their living room, five people altogether tried to come up with a plan much of the afternoon. They're worth the time and energy. They are our cherished pioneers, after all.

Will a full-time live-in caregiver be the solution? Part-time person? Or, as seemed problematic,
one or the other of the sisters would not validate the choices proposed by Julie, the niece who
pays their bills ever so often, and runs the sisters on errands. "We have lunch together also after doctor appointments; and, at times they pay, or, I pay."

Amid tears and fears about her future, Betty cried often with her face held into her hands as she prayed in frustration, "Jesus...!"

One can only imagine what it would be like if they were forced to move given their incapacity to fend for themselves as they have for decades caring for each other so faithfully and effectively, even while they band-aided the needs and choices their families made getting in trouble with the law, with alcohol, with time constraints, and all the burdens of raising families in a dysfunctional culture in America.

Others are concerned for their safety, and use of the stove, for example, that has been left
burning after food has been prepared by one or the other.

One way or the other, a resolution will be worked out. After all, nothing is perfect, but God and perhaps math.

Betty and Mary have me wondering, however, about thousands of other Oakland County seniors who may not have advocates who help them sort out their frail futures.

Do they just quietly and painfully fade away, and, are forgotten, in a nation that will be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable in and outside the womb?

God help us to help them. To wake up and notice life all around us aching so often for assistance.

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