I’m fast approaching bed-blocker age, and it’s making me nervous. Nobody likes an elderly bed-blocker, especially now, with the NHS bursting at the seams. And nobody wants to be one. Imagine it – I do, all the time. What if I become seriously poorly, fall downstairs, break a limb, go to hospital and the daughter isn’t around to rescue me? I’ll be stuck there for months, not allowed home till they’ve “set up a care package”. Trickier, after years of coalition, than extracting sunshine out of cucumbers.
“It’s the geriatric ward I’m dreading,” says Rosemary. “That’s where they really ignore you. If you ask for anything twice they think you’ve got Alzheimer’s.” Her friend Angela managed to escape hospital by pointing at a visiting neighbour and saying: “She’ll look after me.” The poor neighbour didn’t dare say: “No I won’t,” in front of all those kind doctors and nurses, so Angela got home and stayed there, more or less alone, managing somehow.
So I’m planning to not fall over or be hospitalised, and to look competent and independent for as long as possible, without worrying Daughter, or alerting the authorities and being bundled off screaming to a care home. This may all be some way off, but I like to think ahead, plotting how to stay in my own flat till I fall off my perch.It's not only the possibility of accidents but also the inevitable - if gradual - diminution of physical and mental abilities. (Playing candy crush may only stave off dementia for so long.)
And yet. Life, even with all its increasing limitations, can be sweet. A pint of the amber liquid in the sunshine on the terrace of my favourite bar. A satsfying dip into the Kindle to read a good book. The prospect of a decent football match on the telly. And the worries melt away - at least for the moment.