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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Living With Dad, 11

Mail time is ambiguous here.  Mail addressed to Dad keeps him occupied for an hour.  But afterwards, it keeps ME occupied for a couple hours explaining it to him.  Most of his mail is irrelevant (monthly investment statements, some is true junk, but some is important.  I won't filter his mail [well, I trash some donation requests that hit him up for more money every month just because he gave them money the previous month; he thinks the requests from the fire and police departments are "bills" and they are taking advantage of his confusion].

But it's the legitimate documents that cause the hardest problems.  Monthly bank statements, investment statements, actual bills for services to the previous FL house...  It can take an hour per bank statement, a half hour to pay a single bill, and something like a property tax bill is good for a day (because he wants to ask really odd questions that have obvious answers to ME but he doesn't understand).

Dad has resigned himself to accepting my "novel idea" of filing folders by subject ("water". "electric", "property tax", etc), bank names, investment company names, property locations, mainly because I simply went and DID IT one weekend.  He still doesn't understand it, but then, he can't recall the names of his electric or water company, so generic is the only choice...

So I've taken over the organization of his records.  I had little choice.  He had them all by month (sort of) and couldn't find anything.  When he first had his duffel bag, briefcase, and two fat folders of documents, I asked him to find his birth certificate,  It took him 2 hours.  Now there is a file for that.  And of course, files for about everything else.

Today was the 4th or 5th time I've shown him the file folders I made "for the first time" to his mind.  I'm getting used to the idea that some things are new to him every time I mention them.  Well, maybe I should say "getting resigned to the idea".  I'm still always surprised by what he forgets from even one day to the next. 

I do want readers to understand that I do not take this lightly.  Sometimes with a bit of tolerant humor (beats crying out loud), but never "lightly".  I understand that Dad's present is my future...  It doesn't look like a lot of fun.  Mine may be worse.  Dad has me (and 2 other children and some grandchildren.  I don't.  When I, and my brother and sister, are Dad's age, they will have adult children but I will only have nieces and a nephew.  Adults don't take care of Uncles like they do Parents.  I better hope for some major medical or technological advances (like mind transplants to robots).  Or I am going to have to just go to sleep on the deck some Winter night and not wake up.

Today's odd moments:  Dad received junk mail from some investment firm, and assumed that meant he had an account with them.  He couldn't figure out how to fill out the enrollment form (since he assumed he was already enrolled).  I had to go through all the files, one by one, to show him there wasn't a file for that company.  Then HE had to go through all the unsorted junk in his briefcase searching for a reference to that company.

THEN he decided maybe he should take cash out of savings and invest with them.  So I had to spend a half hour reminding him that he just cashed in some decent CDs in order to have "cash on hand" for medical emergencies, so he shouldn't make new investments.   Its tiring, and I can't get anything useful done around the house while he is fussing about this kind of stuff.

I should filter his mail, but I can't get myself to do that yet.  He has a right to open and read it; it is my responsibility to guide him in deciding what to do.  But I will probably have to do that soon.  His memory for even simple daily things is going. 

Multiple odd events:  Tonight, he couldn't remember how to make a martini, his several nightly drinks for decades.  I knew, though I never liked a martini in my life.  His is equal shot gin and dry vermouth in a small juice glass, over ice.  Doesn't seem like the James Bond martini, but whatever he likes is his business. I took a spoonful of one a week ago; it was HORRIBLE!   I like my self-named Cavebear Slings (shot gin, shot Pomegranate Liquor, 2 shots real pomegranate juice over ice, fill with ginger ale).  If you like fruit-oriented drinks, try it. 

But he couldn't remember how to make the drink he has liked for 60 years!

Another odd event was that I put his tossed salad on the table (I always make a tossed salad).  He asked if I had put gravy on the salad (yeah, he confuses words like gravy and dressing, and sometimes he says "sauce").  Anyone would look at it and know I hadn't, but he can't think of doing that these days.  That's a bad sign.  On the other hand, at least when he uses the wrong word for something, it is a related word.  It would be worse if he had asked if I added "marbles" to the salad.

And I'm not relating these confusions on his part to make fun.  It's serious.  I'm writing about this so that I have a record of them.  I need to understand where his memory is failing and where it is still functioning.  Partly, I want a dated record of such confusions, but mostly so that I can understand where I can trust his memory and where I can't. 

That matters because I don't have the best memory in the world.  I never have.  Do you recall math  and science classes in high school where you mostly memorized formulas and diagrams to use them on tests and then mostly forgot them afterwards?  I could never remember the formulas.  I had to mostly figure them out each time from scratch and a few recollections. I got "Bs" in spite of that.  I'm also not very good at remembering names or what I said in the previous email.  I remember faces very well.  I can pass someone and know that I "know" them.  No name comes to mind though...

I bet my memory is worse than Dad's before I am his age.  I see it coming...

So I am probably going to lose my memory sooner than Dad.  That's scary, but probably inevitable.


da bear said...

Its a long slow road. You are doing very well. As I have said before, routine, routine, routine.
Remind him of the day or post it on a board. Things he likes to know each day should be on it. It will help.

BTW, get your siblings to help out and come over and give you some sanity time. DO NOT interrupt his routine by going there. When my MIL was going thru this it would upset her for weeks when her routine was broken.

Best wishes, da bear

Shaggy and Scout said...

Each day you unselfishly give of yourself to this man who did the same for you when you were growing up. You are a fine man Mark, and I'm glad to know you through the stories, struggles and fears you generously and share with us.

.....Cavebear Slings sound intriguing....