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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Living With Dad

This is going to be an adventure I am barely prepared to take.

The Background:

Mom died in 2010 from old age and Parkinson's at 84.  Her body failed while her mind was still capable.  She hated that, and I understand.  I miss her.  Dad is the reverse.  He's old physically, but shuffles around just fine.  He does just fine with physical activities like setting the table for meals, personal things, dressing, etc.  It's his mind that is going.

He is lucid for periods; remembering investments, family, and events.  Then, suddenly cannot recall where he is, who I am, or where any of his investments are.  At those times, anything I tell him is forgotten immediately and asked again in a few minutes.


I and my siblings live in MD.  Dad lived in FL.  My brother Matt and I flew down May 18, packed all the documents, personal affects, and clothes into Dad's car.  Matt drove Dad's packed car to my house.  Dad transferred his car title to Matt and Matt drove home in the car.  Dad (briefly?) understood that he could drive a car safely any more.

So Dad is here now with all the stuff we could fit into the car.  And into a standard bedroom.  It can't hold all his stuff.  I have some ideas about helping with that (shallow bookcase so he can stack his folded clothes where he can see them - seemingly important to him), a shallow secretary desk with a drawer for his checkbooks and will (important to him), and a tall narrow dresser (space is limited).

My immediate concerns are to get his clothes sorted into 3 piles.  Summer wear, Winter wear, and Never wear. He has enough clothes for 5 people!  Most, he would never have any occasion to wear.  He DOESN'T need 10 pairs of golf pants, for example.

But also, because he feels cold all the time here, he sure doesn't need the 10 pairs of shorts or the short sleeve shirts.  Those have to go to Goodwill.  The hardest part is getting him to wear long sleeve pants and shirts.  He puts on 3 short sleeve shirts and complains his arms are cold!

I told him that he can put on warmer clothes, but I can't wear much less clothes than I do.  He doesn't quite grasp that concept.  Basically, he wants the thermostat at 85 (in shorts) and I want it at 70.  In between is no good because I melt into a pool of sweat at 72.  I want to buy him long sleeved knit shirts tomorrow.

The good news is that he loves my cooking.  I'm always been a "fresh-food", pork or chicken/veggie stir fry type, with baked chicken thighs, and the occasional steak type.  With salads and lots of veggies.  He seems to like that too.

Sadly, he LOVES bread.  I think he was making whole meals of bread before I got him up here.  On the good side, I make great bread and he likes it.  And he is enjoying having salad and meat with his bread.  I'm taking the meals one day at a time while I figure out what he likes that is healthier.  I did get him to agree to start taking my own regular "Men+50 multivitamin today (doctors orders).

My own diet is basically some meat, lots of veggies, a tossed salad, 2 glasses of red wine, and mixed fresh fruit for "dessert".  I haven't introduced the fresh fruit yet, but we are going grocery shopping together tomorrow and I'll see what interests him there.  Irrelevant in a way, since I will be buying a variety for myself anyway.  But I need to find what HE likes.

The cats will be a problem.  He hates cat fur around his bedroom.  I mean, he likes cats "OK" but hates fur.  So far, we are keeping his bedroom door shut all day, but that won't last.  Dad forgets about the door.  They had a cat until about 2000, but dad doesn't remember.  MY view is that cat fur isn't fatal, but it seems to bother his (oddly variable) sense of cleanliness.

We'll work that out...

There are still 5 bags of Dad's clothes down in the basement.  He thinks he has sorted through ALL his clothes.  Tomorrow will be another surprise for him.  Sorting confuses him.  So I think I will do it directly from the bags in the basement.  My idea is to present him with types of clothes (long pants, short pants, long sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts, etc.  Then ask to him to choose the best 7 of each that fits.  He understands that some of his clothes should go to charity.  90%, actually, but I won't tell him THAT (because it would seem giving "away" too much".  I will have him fill a box of clothes that don't fit (most of them) and remove them each day.  He will forget about those each time, I think  And when I present him with a bunch of donation tax reductions, he will think that grand.

Other than that, he is doing well.  More next time...


KitKat said...

We are regular readers of your blog. We hope all works out for you and your Dad. We will keep you both in our thoughts and wish you the best of luck.
Angel Normie, Mika, Sasha & Grady

Fuzzy Tales said...

Good luck with the adjustment.

But please don't feel guilty or hesitant to look into getting help to care for him, particularly as his mental faculties deteriorate. And remember that as the care-giver, YOU will need a break to recharge. I'm not sure what's available to you...I know my mom has someone come in one morning a week to do the house work she can't do (her hubby is older and has health issues, she had chronic back problems). This is partially covered by a health/social program offered in her province.

And if you've not done so already, I also encourage you to investigate nursing care (as in nursing home) if or when that becomes necessary.

Purrs from the boys and universal Light from me.

Katnip Lounge said...

Mark, My heart goes out to you, you are a Good Son to give your Dad this gift of time with IS hard and you'll be in my thoughts. Scott went through this 4 years ago with his Mom (who ended up in a great nursing home, she wanders)and I think watching a parent age is the hardest thing in the world. My MIL did best with having some autonomy, making a choice between this outfit or that, but WE would choose the two choices, if that makes sense. Dignity is preserved by all. My guess is that the cat fur business will become a non-issue in time. Good luck. You are so doing the right thing.

Derby, Ducky said...

Hard getting parents to downsize on the clothes. Children of the depression, you didn't throw anything out, even to donate. Like your idea of allowing him to keep X many of shirts, pants etc.

You may need to step in and help him choose what clothes to wear for the day, help him to adjust to the temperatures, inside and out.

The Cat From Hell said...

Mark we are all here for you. You are a wonderful person to take on your father. I remember going through the too warm thing with my father-in-law. He used to wear the lining of winter coat sipped up and a hat with ear flaps in the 80 degree plus house, even in the summer. We eventually had to install a "fake" Thermostat so my husband's Mom did not cook!
Nellie's Mom

Katie Isabella said...

Mark, I am new to your personal blog. I would like to visit and willand I hope that things go alright for you. I can well imagine what a change for you and the cats this is. For your dad as well. I am so hoping that it will go well. You are a loving son indeed.

The Meezers or Billy said...

Mark, I really feel for you. Before my dad went into the nursing home in 2009 his dementia was getting really bad. he and my mom would fight like cats and dogs because my mom refused to believe he couldn't remember anything and he was always telling her she never said whatever it was. once he got to the nursing home he got better, but about a month before he passed last year it all fell apart. he would call me 20 times a day to ask me how much money he had in his bank account, etc etc.
I know the adjustment will be hard for both of you, and there will be some times you're just so frustrated you want to scream. As I always told my mother (who never listened anyway, lol) he can't help it and it's hard for him too. Anyway, if you need an ear to bend just email me! - Mary

da bear said...

One day at a time, with patience. You will be blessed by these memories.

Jan's Funny Farm said...

There are so many bloggers who can empathize with you. It sounds like you are prepared to cope, but like someone commented, you WILL need time to yourself to "recharge."

ArtemisiaFSS said...

This must be so hard for the both of you. Seems like you have a good plan though. ~Alasandra