“You’re Not Putting ME in a Home!” 1of 4
By David Hahklotubbe, gerontologist
This fear-filled posture permeates almost everyone’s life at one point or another. And, it’s less of a question of why, and more of a question of why wouldn’t there be fear? Fear tends to exist and propagate in the absence of knowledge. We tend to insert worst case scenario beliefs when we lack fact and then we backfill our position with even more inaccuracies, compounding the rapidly growing mountain of falsehoods. These beliefs are what hold us back and require our focused attention. Not to oversimplify this process in analogy, but it truly isn’t that different from when you laid, paralyzed, in your bed because of the monster lurking in your closet or underneath. Once your paradigm of thinking shifted, due in large part, to accurate information, you switched your belief system. And you developed a deeper level of trust in the bearer of that new knowledge. And why not? Your quality of life dramatically changed. You no longer dreaded the hours leading up to bedtime, you not only tolerated the idea of going to bed, but you started a long love affair with the comfort and joy of deep sleep. Am I suggesting that seniors can merge from dangerously paralyzing fear to an actual love affair with their new living environment? I’m not only suggesting it, I am sure of it. With over 2 decades of mastery, I am that bearer of knowledge and happy to be part of your team. And, while there are no monsters in the closet, they most definitely do exist in the form of inaction.
Despite aging being as predictable as the sun coming up, as a culture, we tend to ignore it. This is the very root of the problem with caring for our seniors. We tend to be reactive vs. proactive and we only start contemplating this incredibly important decision after an incident, in crisis. This crisis not only thrusts us into having to make a difficult decision without knowledge, but compounded by the stress of urgency. And, if that wasn’t enough, we are hit with an unrelenting barrage of punches at once, it’s a combination of 4 in sequence. The first punch to the chin is that our loved one is in decline. The second gut punch is their intense opposition and resistance to placement. The third low blow is the unexpected cost. And finally, the fourth sucker punch is the contemplation of our own mortality. I am not one to mince words, and it may not be fashionable, but I am here to tell you that this is no one’s fault but our own. Am I victim-blaming? Yes, yes I am. But in exchange, I am offering you the opportunity to not be a victim, but a survivor. I can’t scream it from the mountain tops loud enough. Being proactive in this process makes all the difference in the outcome. And, understand, what is in the balance, is more than a smoother journey, it’s a matter of quality and quantity of life, plain and simple.
One situation + Two potential ways of addressing it = Two very different outcomes. I am very direct in my presenting of fact, so as not to be misunderstood. I tell it like it is with no regret. That was a foreshadow…. Assuming that your loved one survives their first encounter with an age-related incident in the absence of proper supervision, you are now faced with two paths. One path leads to regret, the other, to validation. Those who are weak, will listen to their loved one’s pleas to not be placed into care despite their imminent doom. Those who walk this path are inert and once catastrophe eventually befalls their beloved, they stand in regret, regret that lasts the duration of their lives. And, once you choose that path, you are rarely able to walk back to those crossroads and reassume your journey on the other path. That other path is due diligence. No, it is not an easy path, it is most definitely a challenge. But you must have faith, propelled by your love, to walk through that fire, galvanized on the other side and validated in knowing that you overcame your collective fears and bonded over making the right choice resulting in a heightened qualify of life for everyone, but also a quantity of life for your loved one.
In the installments to follow, I will be giving you a roadmap on how to make that journey of due diligence a little less traumatic. Stay tuned.
Love – David