Lessons Learned when my Dad broke his hip.

As I mentioned in my last post my Dad fell and broke his hip on the morning of January 23. That morning Dad called and asked if I could come down to help out. Thank goodness I am retired. I was able to hop on a plane and be in San Diego by early afternoon. I ended up being in Escondido for two and a half weeks. Both my sisters and my brother also dropped everything to come down and help. It was a pretty intense exhausting time but thinking about the experience on my flight home I realized that it was also an intense learning experience. Here are some of the things I learned.

  • I knew next to nothing about options for getting help with living when you need it. I learned that it ranges form hiring in house help, to skilled nursing which is more than Mom and Dad needed, to independent retirement housing to assisted living which is what fit the bill. In their case Assisted living made the most sense. They are renting an apartment and then paying on top of that for the assistance they need.
  • In the two weeks I was in Escondido my sister and I looked at 5 assisted living places. I learned that in the area where my parents live there are lots and lots of assisted living places. The ones we looked at were all OK but the one we chose stood out to us as having better food, staff that seemed to know the residents and a more upbeat feel than the others we looked at. Of course only time will tell whether Mom and Dad like it or not.
  • I learned the difference between a living will, a power of attorney for health care and a do not resuscitate order (a DNR).
  • I learned first hand something that seems obvious. Moving from a 2000+ square foot house of your own to a two room apartment is very hard. Mom and Dad haven’t decided if this is  temporary or not. They may move back into their house when Dad’s hip is healed or they may move somewhere else or they may move to a bigger unit in the place they are now.
  • I learned that when you have trouble getting your words out people assume that your mind is slipping. My Mom is as sharp as ever but the Parkinson’s that she is battling makes it hard for her to say what she is thinking.
  • I learned the importance of perspective and of not trying to do everything and be all things to all people. I didn’t realize how emotionally draining the whole experience was until I flew home and got some perspective.
  • I learned how lucky I am to have a loving supportive family and three wonderful siblings . We all pretty much get along and are there to support each other even if we live in the four corners of the  country (Boston, Memphis, Tacoma, and the Bay Area)
  • I learned that we need to just take things one day at a time and keep our options open. My temperament is to always want to have a plan. But in a situation like this there are too many things changing on a daily basis to be able to see too much into the future. If my sisters hadn’t helped me keep my mind open to the possibilities and if we hadn’t continued to weigh our options based on the information available to us we would have missed out on better solutions that presented themselves over time. The first assisted living place that we thought we liked wasn’t as good as the one that a friend told us about later. The  first doctor  we talked to  about Mom wasn’t as helpful as the second one and  the solutions we worked out as a team were better than anything I would have come up with alone.

All of these  learnings seem painfully obvious but  in the stress of the moment I had to learn them anew. I’m really glad I could help out and that Mom and Dad are doing as well as they are. Who knows what the future holds but for now I’m trying not to worry about it. My brother arrived in Escondido today to help out and it sounds like everything is going pretty well.

Author: marionvermazen

I am a traveler, hiker, avid reader, Sun alumnus, computer geek, Spanish and French language student, knitter and genealogist. I am retired after working for almost 30 years in the Computer Industry. I live in Reno, Nevada with my husband Duke.

2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned when my Dad broke his hip.”

  1. Marion
    Can you tell me what you mean by this?
    I learned the difference between a living will, a power of attorney for health care and a do not resuscitate order (a DNR).
    My email address is drfred@paer.org


  2. Fred,
    As I understand it (and I am obviously no expert) a living will gives instructions about what kind of care you would want if you were unable to communicate. For example the ones my parents have indicate whether they would want to be put on an artificial lung, whether they would want to be fed by a tube or given liquids etc. A power of attorney for health care tells who you would want to make your health care decisions if you were unable to make the decisions yourself.
    I pretty much already understood these two documents but I didn’t understand how they differed from a do not resuscitate order. As I understand it a DNR is something your doctor can put in place at your request. It directs that if your heart stops and/or you stop breathing no effort will be made to revive you. I think these are normally only in place for some one who has a fatal illness and would consider being revived and having their life prolonged a bad thing.
    The Wikipedia articles below seemed to give a pretty good description of thees documents.


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