Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Fragile Patchwork of Care for New York’s Oldest Old

John Sorensen stood in the entryway of his Upper West Side apartment with a fresh bruise spreading over his upper arm and a blood-smeared bandage around one shin.

Mr. Sorensen, 91, had fallen in his kitchen — he said he did not recall how — and was still unsteady on his feet.

“It’s been a very bad day for me,” he said, his voice quavering just above a whisper. “I could’ve fallen 20 or 30 times today but I caught myself.”

Mr. Sorensen is one of six New Yorkers over the age of 85 I have been following since the beginning of the year. For Mr. Sorensen and the woman who manages his care — Anne Kornblum, a niece of his late partner — the fall was a cause for worry. Had Mr. Sorensen reached a turning point in his already fragile health? Was another fall inevitable, especially if Mr. Sorensen, who is nearly blind, continued to refuse to use a walker?  

Ms. Kornblum guided Mr. Sorensen to a favorite chair and tried, once more, to reason with him. If he were to fall again, she said, he might have to give up his home.
“I tell him, if he falls and breaks something, his life is going to change drastically,” she said. “And it will bring into question whether he can stay here. Because once he goes into the hospital with something broken, it’s sort of out of my hands what happens to him.”

Ms. Kornblum examined Mr. Sorensen’s arms and legs for other bruises. She did not say what they both knew: that she was doing all she could to keep him alive and out of a nursing home, and that no matter how much effort she put in, at some point it was a battle she would lose.

“It gets stressful,” she said. “You learn as you go along.”  (Continue Reading)

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1 comment:

Barbara said...

Good article!