Medical Treatment vs. Quality of Life for Our Aging Parents
My mom has been troubled by bedsores on and off for the past two years. A bedsore forms, gets worse and then very s-l-o-w-l-y heals (as in taking months to completely close up). She presently has three in various sizes, places and stages of breakdown or healing.
Contrary to what most of us believe, I’ve learned bedsores do not occur as a result of neglect. In my mom’s situation, her skin breakdown is due to the thinness and fragility of her skin, her weight (she’s only 90 lbs.) and the fact that she can no longer walk. The caregivers at her board & care are all top notch and are constantly battling any signs of skin irritation to keep new bedsores from forming.
The Current Medical Treatment
The worst bedsore is on her coccyx and the doctor ordered her to be in bed 99% of the time now. The caregivers are vigilant about turning her from one side to the other side every two hours and changing her diaper to keep moistness away from all the sores. She uses an alternating pressure air mattress which is always moving slightly to massage her skin. The hospice nurse provides specialized wound care every second or third day. I know medically these are correct steps, because with the attentive wound care and the “staying in bed regime” the sore is not getting worse, and is starting to heal. For that I am grateful.
So What’s My Dilemma?
Why is this medical treatment bothering me?
Because it is also a quality of life issue.
When she’s in bed 99% of the time, Mom misses out on the social activities that go on in the living room and kitchen of the house. She can’t partake in musical sing-a-longs or arts & crafts sessions three times a week. She misses mealtime conversations and visits from other residents’ families. Even though her ability to speak, participate or interact are limited, I still believe she gets stimulation and enjoyment by being in these social situations. Or just by viewing the changing indoor “landscape” in front of her eyes. When she’s lying in bed in her room, she’s isolated and misses out on this liveliness, except what I bring her during my visits.
If I knew the medical treatment was just for a few days or even for a few weeks, I could live with it. But based on how long it has taken previous bedsores to heal, I see her staying in bed for months to come.
A Balancing Act
It’s a matter of balancing her medical needs and keeping her quality of life at a decent level. It’s a balancing act that I’m not sure we’re winning. Yes, her bedsores are healing, but at what cost? It’s frustrating and it makes me sad.
Have you found yourself in a similar caregiving predicament?
How have you dealt with it? Let’s discuss . . .