At 89 everything becomes hard. Let’s face it – aging is difficult. And the crazy thing about that reality is, you can’t even begin to comprehend what that means until you experience the world through the lens of a senior citizen. Taking care of my elderly mother for almost twenty years, with the heavy-duty lifting coming in just the past five, has opened my eyes to things I never thought about before.

And really, why would I? Why would any of us? The journey of being a family caregiver is one that can be emotionally and physically exhausting but each day you learn something almost profound.

Be sure to join the Keeping it REAL Caregiving PODCAST family, because each week we’ll talk about these issues and give you some useful information in hopes of making your caregiving life a little easier.

Here’s just one example. With mom’s declining health the number of visits to the doctors’ offices has been a steady stream. Sounds simple. At 89 everything becomes hard so just getting mom prepared to go out of the house is no easy task. In fact, it can often be a several-hour journey JUST to get out the front door. Let’s Keep it REAL:

Waking Up & Getting out of Bed

When an elder loses the strength and ability to sit up from a night’s sleep, that means someone; a family member of caregiver, must physically hoist them up. Because remember, at 89 everything becomes hard. How do you do that? Well, in mom’s case, she suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. So her joints are stiff and you have to be careful when moving her. I installed hand-grab bed rails to help her, but she’s too weak to actually use those.

A bit of online research led me to a video tutorial showing how to bend her knees and legs upward, gently roll her onto her side and help her place her hands onto the grab rails.

From there I learned to use her pillows to gently lift her body to an upright position; all the while she stays firmly gripping those hand rails while I hold her body upright (because with little muscle strength, if I let go, she will topple either sideways, backwards or forward from her seated position), and gently slide her legs to the ground.

Next, she places her arms around my neck. I put one arm around her midsection and the other under her bottom. Now it is time to gently lift her from her seated position from the bed. My “go to”command to mom each day is, “Okay, One. Two.Three. Push with those legs!” And up she goes! I am able to lift her from the bed.

Then we do what we call “the two step dance.” Holding her, I swivel her around in order to place her in her wheelchair. That way we we can roll to the bathroom for our morning routine. Each morning I am reminded that at 89 everything becomes hard.

How long does it take you to get out of bed in the morning? What, maybe thirty seconds? At 89 everything becomes hard, so this daily activity of simply getting out of bed, can sometimes be as long as ten minutes. And that’s JUST to get from the bed, to the wheelchair and rolled to the bathroom.

What other tasks do you perform each day in order to get out the house? Brush your teeth, wash your face, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth again, comb your hair, get your shoes on, get out your front door, into the car and off you go.

Now imagine: all of those items – EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, can become a dedicated chore when you are 89 or beyond.

  • When your body doesn’t want to follow your commands…
  • Or your legs won’t do what your brain tells them to do…
  • Perhaps standing up from a chair, couch or bed becomes almost impossible…

Time. All of us seem to be in short supply. So we’ll get into the steps I have found to be helpful and safe for helping my elder prepare for the day in a future post, including showering, meal prep, dressing and transfers in and out of a vehicle.

And I”ll leave you with this thought:

The “simple” tasks of just getting ready; what the senior care and insurance industry calls “Assisted Daily Living,” can quickly become overwhelming, challenging and in many cases no longer possible as we age.

Because let’s Keep it REAL: at 89 everything becomes harder than we could ever imagine.