Caring for the Annie Grannie

Old age is not for sissies

May 2015

For 99, Annie is in pretty good shape.  But, putting her shoes on is a struggle for her. So is getting dressed, getting up out of a chair and pretty much, everything else.  I can help my wife in lots of situations, shopping, cleaning, laundry, etc. But she is an elderly lady, and there are many things she is only comfortable with another woman caring for her.  I have taken Annie to the clinic for a visit with her doctor.  I spend time with her. For the last year, a lot of that time has me kneeling in front of her.  She will grip my hand and I will try and take her mind off her pain, her troubles.  I take her outside to sit in front of the house.  I charge a toll to the people who pass us by.  The toll, say hello to Annie.

Annie is frail enough at this point that it’s an around the clock job taking care of her. We are Annie’s primary caregivers.  We need help.

Here are some observations on our current situation:

Anne is able to change Annie’s bandages etc; however, Annie has quite a few conditions.  Anne needs a second set of trained medical eyes to deal with her problems.  Many days, Annie does not have the will or the strength to go to urgent care.

When the VNA nurses came in once or twice a week, Annie was getting much better care than with just us alone. When we had a home health care aid come in to do some of the work with Annie’s bathing etc, it was great for Anne, she got a little break.

Anne has two sisters, and they do what they can to help.  Her sister Grace is out of state. She makes it up here 2 to 4 times a year to see her mom.  Anne’s sister Barbara and her husband visit frequently and care of Annie a couple of weekends a year. They both have busy lives, and they have kids and a lot of grandkids  They go south in the winter.

She is often in agonizing pain with the peripheral neuropathy.  Two hospital visits ago, she was taking oxycontin.  It did not help her pain.  Gabapentin does, however, it makes really tired and she really, really, really does not like it.

Annie is slowwwwwwwww to do things. If you try and speed her up, she gets upset.   If you go at a really slow speed, it is still too fast for her.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard “Hold on, wait a minute.”  She can be cranky, unreasonable and scared.

Annie can make herself a snack.  For example, yesterday, she made herself a frozen waffle with jam and butter.  She forgot to put anything back in the fridge.

Over the last 8 years, Annie has for an average of 8 months of the year had open sores (Edema etc) on her legs that require daily inspection. She has been lucky, not a single emergency visit for a fall.  She has had 4 trips to the emergency room in the last 8 years, once for pneumonia, and the others for edema wound related issues.

Annie, was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis.  Annie cannot differentiate the effects until the peripheral neuropathy pain and the sores are healed, which is rare.  But the pain is there.  One of the best things you can do for plantar fasciitis is wear the correct footwear.  Annie’s feet are chronically swollen and she is unable to wear anything but slippers. Annie also has Venous Insufficiency (venous stasis wounds or edema?), diplopia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoporosis(hyperkyphosis?), Hypertension, Claudication, Mitral Valve Regurgitation (GERD), Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation, Impacted Cerumen, Hearing loss, Atrial fibrillation and a few more things that I need a medical thesaurus to understand. Around twice a month, Annie says something like “I want to go to Heaven”.

We have been searching for help.  We had an evaluation by a home health organization.  One of the question they asked:

“Annie, do you need help getting up in the morning?”  She said “No.”

Six out of 7 days a week,  Annie rings the call button for us any time between 6 and 10 am.  She is in agonizing pain.  We comfort her, make any adjustments to the bed, windows etc that would make her more comfortable.  We use lidocaine patches and cream on her legs.  We massage her legs, give her her pain pills and occasionally apply cold compresses and ice.  This at a minimum takes a half hour, usually; the elapsed time to get her up is 2 hours in which we spend maybe an hour and half with her.

Anne takes the brunt of the care for Annie.  She has for the last 20 years.  She is usually the last person Annie sees at night and the first person she sees in the mornings.

Despite all of this, we get along okay. We are all stressed, but we also have quite a few laughs. The Annie Grannie is the toughest person I know. Check her out!

Annie has a website for her current medical conditions: