I’ve had no sleep. Nothing at all. Not a jot.
It’s 5.30am and I’m sitting in the living room drinking Pai Mu Tea and feeling a little worse for wear. Weary before the bustling grind has even blinked an eye or scratched an itch.
In three hours, I’ll board a plane to London, forecast to be a hot and heavy 29 degrees, the type of weather that drains. Whatever gas is left in the tank will be well and truly gone by the time I step on the return flight twelve hours later.
I’m currently listening to Radio 4 which is reporting that 750,000 families in Britain have had to fund the care for relatives living with dementia. That despite repeated promises, the British government has failed to provide the additional funding required to support these families. The irony is that if those same relatives developed heart failure or cancer, they’d be looked after by the NHS, but because they’ve developed dementia or Alzheimers, they’re refused any assistance. How wrong is that?
However bad the situation is in the UK, it is ten times worse in Ireland. There is nothing here but lip service for those with elderly parents or dementia sufferers needing care, respite, and/or assistance.
But enough of that for today.
If I sound a little negative, it’s partly because I’m tired, and also a little hungry. In the main, it’s because at 2.35am this morning I received yet another phone call from the Gardai (Irish police) advising me that my elderly father had fallen in his apartment and asking if I either had keys to let them in or knew the combo to the outside gate. Same phone call, same questions, different month.
This is the sixth time in as many months that my dad has fallen in his home. Always in the middle of the night, always with the same results.
The question is, what to do about it?
Who am I to interfere with another adult’s life and yet, I feel the burden of responsibility to a man now well past the prime of life. Becoming increasingly fragile, he is almost a danger to himself. His confidence has been knocked by a recent theft, his legs are seizing up, and apart from a few neighbours in his gated community and the odd ‘auld lad’ in the pub, he’s pretty much alone.
Don’t get me wrong. Where he lives is safe and secure. Everything is provided from orthopaedic beds and chairs to extended hours of home help and public nurse visits. But it’s the nights that are proving the problem. He is tripping over himself with tiredness or sleepiness, and there is no-one there to help him up. Powerless, he resorts to sounding his personal alarm, which in turn alerts the Gardai, setting in motion a train of events that inevitably result in his being hospitalised.
So here I am. Sitting on the sofa wondering what to do. I’m practically a full time carer to my dementia-sufferer mother. I don’t have the ability to bi-locate. There are only so many hours. There is no-one to ask. No-one to help.
Again I ask, what to do?
There has to be an answer, somewhere, because this situation cannot go on indefinitely.
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