And now she doesn't have a leg to stand on.
September 26, 2012 9:01 AM   Subscribe

How to help my mother, with several health problems, from the other side of the world?

My 72 year old legally blind, diabetic mother has had a horrible couple of months. First she has had low level kidney problems they are working on treating, then had a heart attack ending in her needing a stent, a few weeks later she had to go back into hospital to get a pacemaker put in due to damage caused by the attack.

In the middle of all this she finds out her landlord, despite reassurances for the past few months, has decided to not renew her lease and she has to move out. While in hospital for her pacemaker (she was only released from hospital for that 2 weeks ago) she asked them for an extension to find a place and the guy said no.

Luckily she found a new place at the last minute and can't wait to move and leave the bad vibes, as she calls them, behind.

Cue last piece of bad news, I just got off the phone with her and she fell walking her dog and broken her foot and is in a wheelchair for the next few weeks before she can get a walking cast.

I am in the USA she is in a small country town in Australia. I really want to help my mother somehow.

My Brother, Sister in Law and their kids are being nothing but great with her running her to doctors (up to 90 mins away in the big city to visit her everyday while she had surgeries etc) and the like, while working crazy hours in the two businesses they own. My SIL is arranging last minute movers to come in and pack up what my mother wasn't able to pack herself. Cleaner has been arranged to clean up the old place. Wheel chairs, toilet chairs walkers and the like were arranged by the hospital so she's set up at home.

My husband and I are flying out to see them all in November, she didn't want us visiting while she was in hospital as she said she wouldn't enjoy the visit, so money is tight as it's all being spent on airfare etc. We are both thinking we'll help her settle in her new place moving furniture, unpacking while we are there and pick up our share of doctors visits.

We thought of meal deliveries for the next couple of weeks at least but the only thing we could get delivered where she is is pizza and she won't take meals on wheels without a fight.

Any suggestions on things we can do to be of practical help to her while on the other side of the world greatly appreciated. I ring her every day or 2 and offer all the moral support I can and she seems to be in weirdly good spirits, mainly because she figures it can't get any worse than this now.

Also I am so grateful to my SIL for all she's done to help my mother and would like to thank her. She could not be more like a sister or family to all of us and thinks of my mum as a second mum so would it be weird to say send her a bunch of flowers, like I don't think of her as family? Or maybe I should just take her out for a nice lunch when we are in Australia?
posted by wwax to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
I send family members flowers, so I don't think flowers are outside the realm of normal.

But what my mother has saved is a card I sent her telling her specifically that I loved her and was grateful to her for a specific thing. So while flowers might be nice, and lunch would be a very good idea, too, a heartfelt handwritten letter just saying "You know, you're awesome for doing all these awesome things, and I am very grateful for all your amazing hard work and this is why we love having you as part of our family" would probably be treasured above things you could spend money on.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:09 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think a card to your brother and sister in law is a great idea. And maybe ask them or her directly what would be helpful? It sounds like they have a grasp of some of the practical issues, and you wouldn't run up against as many emotional pitfalls talking to them about what kind of help your mom needs.
posted by jaguar at 9:16 AM on September 26, 2012

My situation is very similar - down to mother being in rural Australia and a SIL who is more like a family member than any of us. I try to send her a nice heartfelt letter now and then, and also things like ColesMyers vouchers now and then.

When we are back in Australia we try to take them out for a good meal, offer to babysit their kids so they can have some time to themselves etc.

As for delivery meals - is there a supermarket in her town? Even if it is not a big chain like Coles or Woolworths they probably do deliveries, at a small charge. You could organise something where you will pay for groceries to be delivered or something.

Oh, and this might not be a problem for you, but I try to remind my Mum what an awesome job my SIL does, as the whole 'absence makes the heart grow fonder/you are on the other side of the world so I idolise you guys more than the family I see all the time' thing occasionally rears its head.

Hope things improve for your mother and that your visit in November is a success.
posted by Megami at 9:46 AM on September 26, 2012

Arrange to have pizza delivered on a regular basis to your brother's family, they need it! Anything you can do to make their lives easier while they bear the significant burden of helping your mother will be appreciated.
posted by mareli at 10:02 AM on September 26, 2012

Your mother will probably struggle with things like cleaning, food shopping etc for a while so if there are any services you could arrange that would take care of that - be it formal or informal, that would probably help a lot.

Likewise, any support you can offer your brother and his family would go a long way. There are physical limits to what you can do for your mother given her immediate practical needs but it could be easier to support your brother and show you are trying to share the burden as best you can from a distance.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:23 PM on September 26, 2012

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