Mom tripped and fell on her way to the bathroom last night (Monday), another reminder that she, at 88, is getting older.
She didn’t break anything but the spill is sure to leave her with black and blue marks on her frail arms, bruises that are sometimes visible when the elderly venture out in public.
In the past two years, Mom has fallen two or three times in her room in her nursing home in Geneva, Switzerland.
Like millions of other men and women of her generation, she’s facing the challenges of longevity.
But unlike many others, Mom is very lucky: she has 24-hour nursing home supervision, courtesy of defined benefit income from a major Swiss government institution. (If she has life insurance, I don’t know about it.)
I don’t have to worry about her writhing in painful silence until someone — anyone — notices her until the next morning, although it has ended this way on at least one or two occasions.
When she falls, I, her only child, am reminded that there may not be too much time left before I never see or hear her voice again.
I say “hear” because I speak to her once a week, whereas I see her only once every 12 or 18 months, and this go-around I won’t get back to her until next spring.
Around the holidays, when deadlines at work recede temporarily, my thoughts drift eastward to the family in Geneva and Mom lying in bed with the blinds closed living in the dark with only her reading lamp to shed light on the outside world filtered through French and English-language newspapers and magazines.
Mom doesn’t care much for her current surroundings. She never did since she was admitted several years back after she shattered her hip in her apartment and waited in pain for hours until she mustered the strength to reach the phone or someone came upon her by coincidence - I can't remember which.
With no radio or television and only regular visits from her younger brother and the infrequent drop-by from nieces and nephews, she lives a reclusive existence.
I imagine it isn’t all that unusual for people her age, as the two or three friends she made there when she first moved in died years ago.
Yet I wonder how she would be different if she were more of an extrovert, as I’m told she was long before I was born and as I remember her, even after her separation and eventual divorce from Dad.
When I visit, as I plan to in the spring, I read off to myself the names of the pensioners on their bedroom doors on my way to Mom’s room.
Some of the names I recognize, others I don’t and I can pick out the new faces too.
When I leave after my short daily visits, I remember some of the old faces who were there the previous year, but linger in the hallways no longer.
One day, which will come a little sooner now than around this time last year when I stopped by for my annual visit, Mom’s name, Johanna Iselin, will disappear from her door. Perhaps other visitors will think of her and wonder where she’s gone.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at email@example.com.
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