What follows is a journal-like blog post that recounts my experiences with caregiving and lack of long-term care planning. This would make a great case study for LTC agents and brokers on how to reach millennials and boomers to talk about long-term care and longevity planning.
It’s been a whirlwind of days, hours, and minutes. One second, I am in Denver, Colorado, and the next, I’m landing back home. Straight from the airport, and after a brief stop at a local supermarket for food after a 9 hour flight and one layover, I’m taken to the hospital where my grandma has been staying for the past week.
Now, even though I’m the only (paid) writer in my family, it would seem that they forgot how to use their adjectives to describe the scene…or maybe one is never really prepared for the harshness of reality. What I saw once I went in her room was far worse than anything my big imagination could’ve conjured. I will spare you the gritty details, but take it from me: it wasn’t pretty.
Lying on the hospital bed of a shared room that was somehow colder than the weather in Denver that same day, my 93-year-old grandmother looked like she had melted into the bed. But she woke up once I hurried to her side and held her hand. A flush of color rushed to her face and an incredulous breathless voice said: “What are you doing here? You came.” She could barely speak, but I could see her inner strength stirring up inside. She’s not letting Death get its cold bony fingers on her … yet.
It is incredible how sometimes sick patients react to loved ones. My family and I all saw how grandma was improving each day, but very, very slowly. Her lungs were weak after a bout of pneumonia that almost killed her. And even though all of her bloodwork came back normal, she was so weak, she couldn’t even sit up or lay on her side on the bed.
She was released from the hospital a day later to our surprise, since she still had oxygen on all the time and was receiving respiratory therapy every six hours. The doctor, a cardiologist, didn’t tell us what the next steps were. He only sent us a list of medicines to take home.
But what happened in the next few days was unimaginable and quite a shock for all of us: Even though my grandma could not move, we had to take care of her 24/7. The doctor hadn’t even ordered a nurse to come to the house to check her vitals and her progress. He didn’t order an electric adjustable bed or other home care equipment.