Gransnet forums


Stubborn to remain independent

(23 Posts)
Indie Mon 29-Apr-13 10:06:10

Hi,got a call from my auntie at 1am this morning screaming on the phone.She just got back from Iceland on holiday.I rushed around to find she had a wound on her leg that not exaggerating looked like someone had struck her in the leg with a machete. A 10 inch wound down to the bone.This is the 5th time she has fallen,and I'm beginning to wonder if there is something seriously wrong.She is a sharp, intelligent and desperately independent proud woman.I tried to ask her if she was having blackouts or loosing her balance a few weeks ago but she just fobbed me off.

Her sister was the same, who recently past away,her sister basically died because of her stubbornness to refuse help,she had a heart problem and hardly ate for two weeks despite our best efforts to convince her to get help.Seems my Auntie is just as stubborn and I think is desperately holding on to her independence.She still goes on three or four holidays a year around the globe. I think she is scared of loosing her driving license etc and being housebound. What do you think I should do? Confront her and see if she will admit she is finally becoming infirm?

Mishap Mon 29-Apr-13 10:30:38

What a difficult situation for you. Did you take her to hospital with the gash on her leg? It may be that you could talk with people there.

I would be inclined to express my concern to the lady, whislt also beinjg aware that it might make no difference at all to her behaviour!

It sounds as though she is still in possession of her mental faculties, so the chopice is hers as to whether she seeks medical advice - you can only express your opinion.

whenim64 Mon 29-Apr-13 10:45:59

I can see myself being your auntie, Indie. Independence is more important to me as I get older, and the thought of being coerced into hospital or an elderly persons' home after having a fall is a real possibility for many older people. Hence, being dismissive of probing questions, unless there is reassurance that there is no hidden agenda.

Does it need ot be a confrontation? Could you ask her what she needs in case this happens again? Perhaps she would listen if you share your concerns, and she can adjust her lifestyle a little to see if that keeps her any safer?

Orca Mon 29-Apr-13 10:46:38

Let her be. It's her life, her health. I hope she's got a Health and Welfare LPA with someone she can trust as her attorney.

sunseeker Mon 29-Apr-13 10:51:27

Some years ago my Mother was having lots of falls - on investigation it was found to be a combination of poor eyesight (hence tripping over things) and badly fitting shoes! Once we had got her glasses and sorted out some better shoes she had no more falls.

Indie Mon 29-Apr-13 11:08:21

Just called her on skype, going around to her house this evening.They had to glue the wound because her skin is paper thin on her legs.I asked her if she thought there was something more seriously wrong but she insists she has just become a little accident prone.She is even going to drive herself to the doctors on Wednesday to get the dressing changed.Ten out of ten for fighting spirit I suppose.Thanks for the replies

grannyactivist Mon 29-Apr-13 11:15:20

Indie you have my sympathy. It's horrid to see the effects of fall injuries on people you love.
My husband's gran used to fall and try to hide the effects, but several times she had dreadful injuries and had to use her red button - it was always me who responded and the shock and horror of having to deal with a beloved, frail, injured relative was so difficult. Things finally came to a head when she was 93; she fell one day and literally shattered her elbow into smithereens. The scene when I arrived was like something out of psycho (I genuinely had nightmares afterwards); she was lying, only just conscious, in a pool of blood and weakly calling out for help, but totally disoriented. After that we had a family conference and I actually told her that I couldn't cope with the scale of her injuries any more. After leaving hospital (where she was given a 'bionic' elbow) she went (grudgingly, but acknowledging the necessity) into a fantastic nursing home where she spent her last three years.

FlicketyB Mon 29-Apr-13 16:15:16

Why not suggest that finding out what made her a bit more accident prone would enable her to become less so and keep her independence. There are times you can use people's sticking points to help them become unstuck.

Bags Mon 29-Apr-13 16:26:42

A ten inch cut from a fall? Had she fallen onto something? Looked like a machete wound? Good grief!

You don't get that kind of injury from just falling over...

Do you?

Falling out of a tree maybe...

Sorry, I just can't imagine it in an ordinary home environment, unless she leaves lethally sharp things lying about.

Good that she didn't lose too much blood though. I hope it heals well.

Oh, just thought.... why didn't she ring 999?

soop Mon 29-Apr-13 17:11:58

Indie A ten inch wound down to the bone - surely needs urgent medical attention.

Eloethan Mon 29-Apr-13 17:40:38

It does sound odd that she sustained such a serious injury from falling over.

It must be very upsetting if you fear your aunt's health might be failing and yet she refuses to talk about it. (and, as Bags said, why didn't she ring 999?)

Is it worth trying to talk to her again about your concerns. You could explain that you're not trying to interfere - that, of course, her life is her own and you admire her energy and independence. However, it's making you feel anxious as you are continually on edge worrying whether she's all right or whether she's had another fall and it would put your mind at rest if she just had a check up. Perhaps if you explain it from your point of view she'll be more forthcoming.

FlicketyB Tue 30-Apr-13 09:01:20

Frail older people do bruise and injure very badly after trivial injuries. If her skin is so thin on her legs, the bone will have very little protection and a fall that resulted in her scraping her leg on the corner or edge of a piece of furniture could inflict such an injury.

When my aunt fell, as she had a minor stroke, she ended up with bruising on her left arm that was black, quite literally black, from shoulder to wrist and extended most of the way round her arm, a black eye and huge bruises on her left leg. I was first told she had been on the stairs when the stroke happened and had then fallen down them, which I thought explained the appalling bruising. It turned out that she had been in the bedroom and just fell to the floor but she was 90 and very frail with very thin skin and the hospital told me such extensive bruising in those circumstances was not unusual.

Lilygran Tue 30-Apr-13 09:21:56

If you did take her to A&E, in my experience, it would be picked up by the staff there. If you didn't, you could try talking to her GP. Although he or she might be shirty with you, a risk you take if you do ring. Good luck to you, Indie and to your Aunt.

cathy Tue 30-Apr-13 10:42:08

Indie what about trying to get her to see the benefits of some home help.

Also there is an alarm that you can get that she can always wear that at a touch of a button will alert the emergency services.

Lilygran Tue 30-Apr-13 11:21:26

The alarm is essential, I agree with cathy on that. But she will have to nominate two or three people who can hold keys and respond within a certain time. This is my experience of three different local services. It isn't just press the button and the emergency services arrive.

Florence56 Tue 30-Apr-13 12:20:15

Hello Indie, so difficult. Shes being 'Independent' knowing others will jump to it when needed so really thats not really independent. You need to make more formal arrangements and taking someone to A&E with a dramatic injury is often a goood way of flagging up things. There is a fine balance to reassuring Auntie you care about her but also you need to let Social Services etc think you are really not that available. Its all too easy for them to assume family will pick up the pieces - they will happily let you do it all unless you let them know otherwise. Auntie needs to know you can do certain things but you need official back-up.

Nelliemoser Tue 30-Apr-13 13:07:59

Indie It is certainly worth suggesting she gets checked out medically for any reason for the falls but with a mentally competent person there is nothing you can do to stop them taking what you can see as risks.

If she can go on exciting holidays several times a year good luck to her she sounds a very determined person. If she would rather die on some exciting holiday half way up a Glacier then that is her choice.
Its far better to leave this world doing something interesting than to finish it off in safety and die of boredom.

See the lovely Roger Mcgoughs poem

One women I encountered was over 90 she had refused medical or social care, alarms and everything else for years. She only rarely allowed family in her house. Son lived 200 miles away, he was very worried but had to accept this. A neighbour kept a daily eye on the house checking she was up & about. On the morning she didn't open the curtains she was found unconcious and died in hospital of pneumonia about two days later.
I think that was a good result for someone who would have been totally distressed by being safe in a strange environment.
It was far more worrying for the relatives than for her.

cathy Tue 30-Apr-13 13:09:03

PS it must be nice for your Auntie to know that she has someone that she can call on that will help, day or nightsmile you are a good person Indie, it couldn't have been easy to be woken up at 2am, get out of bed and have to make your way to Auntie in the middle of the night . Your thread did not complian once about that smile

NannaJeannie Sat 04-May-13 16:58:23

Its a long time since I have posted, but this thread has prompted me to do so again. Stubbornness in old age is an interesting topic. My aunt has had my sister and me running round after her for years through stubbornness (inability to admit she was infirm, unable to shop or clean, refusal to go to GP). She is now in a good nursing home after a major fall. She then fell IN the nursing home after not using her buzzer for assistance. She fell, dead weight onto her knee and split the flesh to the bone (patella) in the middle of the night and had to go hospital in an ambulance for surgery . The wound was about 8 inches right round the knee. I was phoned at 4am (as next of kin) and went to the hospital (40 miles away). All because she was too stubborn to press the buzzer.

A few months after that, my aunt's next door neighbour who was still living at home, but with no next of kin, was found dead in bed. Pneumonia had set in and the police had to break in after neighbours had not seen her. So I suppose in that case the lady exercised her ultimate stubborn right to avoid going to the doctors. She wasn't actually infirm - well she was in the end.

Additionally, my FIL (83) went on a 3 month trip to Australia and the Phillipines with his ladyfriend, which we all mildly advised against (he is his own man you know). Came back early after a row with the ladyfriend, got severe cellulitis, would not go to the doctors and ended up in hospital, with us all running round after him for weeks.

My DH and me are 20 years away from this possible 'inconsiderate stubborn attitude'. I really wonder if we are going to be the same.

Florence56 Sat 04-May-13 18:15:00

NannaJeannie, what you put sounded so familiar to me. I posted rather negatively about this earlier as I've hand first hand experience of it. Yes, the old folk think they are independent and still able to cope....they keep saying 'Oh I don't want to be any trouble'. The trouble is, by not being a bit more self aware they actually are a lot more trouble. I too wonder if its a recognised trait.......oh dear we will all be annoying old fogies at some point!

Galen Sat 04-May-13 19:00:21

I think I already am! My relatives and friends say that no nursing home would have me! They'd be afraid I'd end up running it.

annodomini Sat 04-May-13 19:24:35

Then you could at least earn your keep, Galen. grin

FlicketyB Wed 08-May-13 20:47:59

Galen, my aunt virtually did that. She ended a long nursing career as head of the nursing school in a big hospital in London.

In old age and fully in command of her faculties she had a number of serious medical conditions that inter related. She was never in care but her GP ended up prescribing, more or less, to her diktat. Not I think because she was overbearing or unreasonable but because she knew as much about her conditions as he did and was actually living with them so had a very exact idea and understanding of how her medication affected her and how to adjust it for her better welfare.

She lived to within a month of her 87th birthday despite having had serious medical problems throughout her life from childhood, so clearly had everything well under control.