Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Care and medicating the elderly

Meg Casey
February 8 1984

Dear Meg,

I am writing to you with some concerns that I have for my grandmother. Gram has always been a very active independent lady caring for her home and family with an expertise based on her love of it all. Until last winter when she slipped on the ice on her front steps and fell down injuring her hip she had been able to continue maintaining the old house and living there all alone. This is no longer a practical possibility; so it was decided by the family that it would be in her best interest to sell the old house and property, invest the money and for Gram to move in with one of her children on a permanent basis.

That arrangement hasn't worked out quite as wonderful as I had originally anticipated. Ever since the move was made Gram has been completely taken over. This once independent woman is now trapped by her physical condition and is not allowed to do anything for or by herself as if she were senile. If she attempts to try something alone she's treated like a misbehaving child.

I am also of the opinion that is the effects that is the effects of the medications she is taking regularly that could be responsible for her dulled reflexes. Perhaps if the dosages were readjusted properly, my grandmother would be more secure on her own two feet and her vision and judgement more reliable. Then the relatives might relax more with her. Normally, she is really an alert and "with-it" lady with a wry sense of humor. My concern is that Gram is becoming as frustrated by her present situation as I fear that I would be if people monitored my every move. The more I allow myself to fret about it the more furious I become with my relatives. So, before I start a feud I thought I’d get an unbiased view from someone with a level head on her shoulders.

Thank you for listening. I look forward to reading your advice.

From a Sincere Fan

Hello Sincere Fan,

Your grandmother’s predicament sound very similar to my own grandmother’s in her later years of life. It is a difficult situation to try to solve perfectly so that everyone is happy.

Your grandmother is lucky to be with your family as long as they want and appreciate her. Nursing homes can be grim places to visit at times when someone is unloved.

If your grandmother’s behavior and reflexes are clumsy, slow or dulled as if in a drugged or drunken state it very well could point to a problem or side effect of the medication prescribed for her. It would be wise to check that possibility out as soon as it could be arranged, for everyone’s peace of mind.

If your grandmother can be assisted to find ways to increase her independence again to the full extent that she can physically achieve it, then things should be better for everyone living in the household. She will not only be one less person to be taken care of, she will become one more person to help do whatever needs to be done.

Grandmas are wonderful people to have around! My suggestion is that you first sit down and try to have a serious, direct conversation with your grandmother about your concern. If she is lucid and can understand you or if she acts drugged. If she is alert, then make sure she wants your interference on her behalf. If she says "yes," then sit down and talk to your relatives about it along with her. Let your grandmother express her own views as much as possible. All she may need to begin is to know that you are there to support her should any relatives be adverse to your suggestions for emancipation.

Once again open communication is the answer. Just stick together, stick your guns and stick to the point … you should do fine from there.


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photographs and other content courtesy of the Casey family unless noted
blog posts and art by Meg Casey
originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
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