Families can be really hard work. You can have great relations, where all family interaction seems really easy. Or family members you rarely see, and some that are really hard work.
My mum was great as she would religiously phone her mother-in-law every fortnight to check she was ok, and every couple of months drive the 120 mile round trip to see her and take her out to lunch. Obviously once my mum was ill, the visits had to stop, and we took over the (sporadic calling).
My nan does pretty well for her age. We’re not sure how old she is, but she must be nearing 100. But she never goes out apart from a weekly shuffle to her neighbour through their garden gate, for a cup of coffee and chat. She seems happy, has her gardener come every so often, and has people get different bits of her food shopping so she’s got a well-stocked freezer. Yes, she’s a bit doddery compared to her younger years, but she can move around the house fine, her hearing and eye sight’s good and her mind seems ok. A few repeats of questions or answers to things she’s already told us, but nothing worse than a bit of senior moment occasions.
It is really hard to remember to call her though. Life passes by and is so busy, it goes past without realising and the next thing you know, you remember you were going to call her. Both my brother and I work, and with N, there’s not a lot of free time, but we try and get down to visit every so often to check she’s got money if she needs it and to say hi.
We went the other week as my brother had been continuing to get calls from the neighbour’s daughter. He always gets the calls, but the facts seem to be wrong, and she doesn’t seem to be talking about the same person we see or speak to. We get more sense from my nan. While it’s great that she’s got someone nearby to keep an eye on her, it’s hard to know whether to take what we’re told with a pinch of salt or whether it’s something to be concerned about.
Before we went to visit our nan last weekend, we did speak to the doctor’s surgery to see if we could arrange for someone to go and help her once a fortnight with cleaning or the like. It must be lonely in a house on your own, and she does really need a bit of help with cleaning (although our nan would say otherwise). We were told if our nan said yes, they can help organise something. Of course, independent elderly people like my nan don’t want people in their houses, so refuse the offer of help. Hopefully she’ll realise when she really does need the help and call us or the doctors to organise something. But as she says she’s happy with her books and tv, then who are we to force something on her she doesn’t want.
N was really good during our last visit. A tablet meant he could play for a while, but otherwise he sat nicely while we chatted. The old photos came out. It’s lovely to talk about and see these as my nan’s only really started talking to us about old times more recently. N was interested looking at all the old photos of my wedding, his uncle and myself when were were children.
So a couple of hours later, we headed off, with our nan happy to have seen us and having had chance to chat to people. We’d rather know that she did have some people going in to check on her occasionally, but unless she wants it, we can’t arrange it. Last year and this have definitely been about wider family for us, and guess with taking over the checking on our nan, it’ll continue to be for a while longer.
Do you have grandparents you check on? Are your family nearby or spread further afield?