“I am facing the same situation everyone in the developed world is facing. The time bomb of old age.”
“It is tragic. But what makes it harder is trying to deal with it across half of Europe.”
Mrs D’s mother is a retired teacher who has lived alone since the death of her husband 28 years ago. Although they speak every night by phone Mrs D feels the pressure of not being physically close to her mother, of not being on hand to help.
“It is stressful, frustrating, I feel helpless. Any decisions have to be made over the phone.”
Her mother also has mild dementia and is diabetic. After speaking to her on one occasion, Mrs D suspected that she had stopped injecting her insulin. She promptly called the doctor in Prague and expressed her concerns about her mother’s condition. Thankfully, by the next day the doctor had arranged daily meals on wheels lunchtime service, and a team of nurses to come in four times a day to help with medication.
But there was still a need to ensure her mother had food for breakfast and dinner. Mrs D went through the phone directory to find someone in the same apartment block as her mother and with a stroke of luck found a lady who lives on the same landing. This neighbour, who has an elderly mother of her own to look after, has since been helping out, bringing Mrs D’s mother basic groceries and checking to see she is fine.
“She is a very kind person, and accepts no payment. She does it from absolute kindness. She deserves a medal,” says Mrs D.
The neighbour has a set of keys for emergencies, and is there to help if the nurses could not get in for any reason. Mrs D thinks she has been very, very lucky, but says that as life gets more orderly in one way, it gets more disorderly in another. Her own husband is not particularly well and she also has a son of 22.
Mrs D has considered bringing her mother to live with her in the UK, but her age and the amount of medical care she needs are barriers to this:
“She has lived all her life in Czech, speaks only minimal English and would not be able to communicate with the doctors. She is too old for such a change.”
“I feel the pressure. There are kind people in life, but it should be my job. My responsibility has been passed onto someone else. If there is no family, what do you do?”