I had to write this piece because it is a subject which is very close to my heart. My great grandmother was housebound for a long time, she struggled to cope with every day living and had a very difficult time with things that most take for granted. Getting dressed, going to bed, eating, washing and so on.
She was cheerful and she was positive but that can only last so long when you are suffering like this. When you are housebound that makes things worse because you can get lonely and bored too and if you are not careful you feel like you are unloved and not part of the real world, detached, where you do not exist, just left to rot. So let me explain to you why I am scared of going into an old peoples' home. You can email an agony aunt through this site if you wish. For great advice.
My grandmother was housebound for a long time, but a lot of this was really her own doing. She lived in a nice little house, it was perfect - though those who thought about it would say it would have been more sensible for her to get a bungalow instead of a house. She got older, slower, a bit faint, a bit dizzy, a bit uncertain on her feet, so coping with the stairs just made things more difficult than they had to be. She had some falls, one was when she was in the garden, where she just fell onto her face and could not get up, and similar things happened both in and outside her home. But she was in some ways a strange woman because she had no friends and no family close by and she hardly ever went out even when she was young and fine and able to. As time went on she would end up spending all of her time organising the gardener and cleaner and spending far more time than necessary on reading the paper or doing a crossword or tidying a cupboard or watching television and the days disappeared on that.
Eventually she got dementia and did not know who was who and what was what and just rambled and talked nonsense. This is when I wish she had listened to my advice, I had urged her to go out more, to meet up with people sometimes, to have a purpose in life, but she would not listen.
Leading experts on dementia talk about various things that can prevent or slow down dementia and having a purpose in life is one of them.
Getting up to read the paper all day hardly counts.
My mother lived a similar life to my grandmother, living in an identical house just down the road to her, hardly ever going out, spending most of her time on television and newspapers. Although she did have penfriends she wrote to regularly. But then she would moan about how expensive the stamps were and how she could not afford to write often and refuse to become more modern and have email friends where she could have had a lot more friends and kept in touch far easier and cheaper. She could even email online and get help from an agony aunt. She struggles with shopping now that she has bad legs and even a short walk is slow and difficult for her, so a computer would have been a big help with that too! There are lots of things she could do to make her life easier, but that means listening and changing things, so she will not. She has dementia now and is gradually getting worse.
My grandmother is now in a home. Nobody other than my mother visits her because she never bothered to be friendly to neighbours or make friends.
But if someone does visit her she talks nonsense and does not know who they are, so maybe it does not matter.
I do not want to end up like either of them so I do things differently. I have purposes in my life. One is my job, which I love, working for this site, advising people on their problems. Another is my cats, I adore them. Having to feed them and put them out and spend time with them means I give and get love back and have things that I MUST do regularly. I also do a lot of brain teasers regularly, I do not let my brain turn to mush. I am well organised and find the quickest and easiest ways to do things, unlike my mother who would walk painfully and take more than an hour to get to the local shop to buy a pint of milk and then feel very ill for the rest of the day because of it, I make sure I always am well stocked up with food or get some delivered.
Living with a lot of other old or frail people might be a good idea for some but it does not suit me. No way would I want to do it. I have sometimes met up with people who are about my age and found most of them to be quite old fashioned, boring and needy, unable to make a simple decision about a simple thing without asking their doctor or neighbour first.
To try to prevent dementia or at least slow it down I take various supplements. Things which are proven to help with these things. Most people say to me "how did you know to take that? I will ask my doctor". The doctor does not have training or knowledge in supplements so you may as well ask your postman. If you want to know what will help your health then you have to do it yourself, you spend a lot of time researching it, or you pay a qualified naturopath who has already done all of that. I fail to understand why someone would spend hours researching which holiday to go on or which car to buy but be too lazy to research the diet that would help them to be healthier and live longer. People now write to me asking for advice on these things because I am on a lot of forums offering free advice to others.
Living with a lot of old people is scary. It is something I do not want to embrace. If you were scared of getting wet you would take an umbrella or thick coat with you, if you were scared of being cold you would put on warm clothes or heating, so why not do something about this to try to prevent it?
Then at least if that fails you know you were pro active and did your best? Scared of going into an old peoples' home. Email an agony aunt online.