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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Living With Dad, 14

First, my thanks to all who offerred suggestions on good elder-friendly TV/Cable remote control devices.  I ordered one I found through Amazon and it arrived today.  I haven't tried it out yet because it needs 4 AAA baterries and I need to buy more recharageable ones (rechargeable batteries are the way to go these days).  But everytime I think I have "too many", I get another device and need more.  I've looked at the control, and it has nice big buttons without too many of them, so I think it may serve well (if it works as advertised).  But now that I have your good list of suggestions, I may get a 2nd one.  I like Verizon FiOS cable/internet/phone service, but their remote controls even frustrate ME.  I wish Verizon would use the same remote control that Comcast used - it never gave me any trouble.  I don't need a remote with bigger buttons for myself (yet) but I need one that actually registers the buttons I push firmly and at a normal speed.  So I will get a 2nd from the list of suggestions.

Second, I'm concerned by changes in Dad's preferences and understandings.  10 weeks ago, Dad liked the way I steamed vegetables.  "Cooked, but still firm".   Now, suddenly, he wants them soft.  He used to like to tell how a former-co-worker-turned-chinese-restaurant-owner said the secret of veggies was to "cook until crisp". Now they must be soft enough to separate with the edge of a fork.  He can still use a knife well enough.  It occurs to me that that is the way his mother cooked vegetables...

I considered dental problems.  Dad had a twinge from a tooth infection when he first came here.  The dentist couldn't decide between 2 teeth, so he prescribed anti-biotics, then a root canal operation on the infected tooth ("because the infection will return").  The estimate was $950, and Dad is miserly.  So he might be hiding a tooth problem.  But he happily eats the raw carrots and celery I give him with his lunch sandwich.  So I think it isn't the "raw veggie" that is bothering him.  It has to be some sudden preference change.  Do old folks change that fast?

I've mentioned before that Dad likes to watch Fox News all day.  He asked today why I won't sit and watch TV with him.  Well, I don't watch much TV to start with (things to do, I like to stay active).  But you don't have to be a communist to not love Fox News.  They raise the hair on the back of my neck.  And it is hard to be in hearing range of the TV (which of course has to be loud because Dad's hearing is fading).  So I try to stay usefully busy "elsewhere".

Third, he is having greater difficulties with mechanical things.  The TV remote is one example (see above), but its not JUST manipulating the buttons.  He is worse at understanding what the buttons on the remote and the screens on the TV even MEAN than just a few weeks ago.

Take the program grid.  It shows the time along the top and channels down the side.  He used to have difficulty remembering how to scroll up and down the list.  Now he doesn't understand what it IS.  On the remote, I have tried to reduce the explanations to simple "Channel Up or Down" and "Volume".  He is losing the understanding of that.

Fourth, he is dozing off more often during the day.  He doesn't believe me when I tell him he dozes off a dozen times a day (that I know of).

Fifth, I catch him standing in place for minutes at a time, hunched over and unmoving.

Sixth, every hot day, he complains that the kitchen ceiling light is broken.  Every day, I explain that the fluorescent light ballast doesn't work well in hot weather (hot attic exposure) and needs to be left on when he leaves the room.  Every day, he turns it off every time he leaves the room.

Seventh, Fox "News" has been his channel of choice for decades.  Today, as I left to go grocery shopping, he was stuck on the TV listing screen.  I asked him if he wanted me to change it to Fox News.  He asked what that was.  Quite frankly, if he forgets about Fox News, I will be delighted.  But that he forgot it is a concern.

Eighth, I allow Iza out with me sometimes.  I let Marley out with me (as a test) last week.  Today I let all 3 cats out with me.  I did it with Dad watching, and I told him that I was doing so.  He watched me let them out.  10 minutes later, Dad was on the deck asking me if I knew there was a cat outside.  Never mind that he was seeing me standing next to 2 of them and taking pictures.  His memory was not 10 minutes long.

There is more, but that's sufficient.  Dad is getting worse (in some ways) quickly.  In other ways, he is doing fine.  If Dad's brain is a house, some rooms are staying relatively clean and functional.  Others are completely falling apart.  It's hard to watch.  I can adjust to most of the changes.  If he wants his brocolli boiled to mush, fine.  If he needs help with the TV, fine.  If he thinks I don't get a newspaper each day, when I set it on the middle on the dining room table, thats fine.

But there is a day coming when he won't be able to manage his personal hygiene.  I'll have to give up at that point.


Katie Isabella said...

I'm so glad you have our blog and us.

Sadie & Itty said...

It is so sad to see our parents getting older and failing. About the same time your dad moved in with you, my mom moved in with me. I am seeing some of the same things. I'm in a similar situation, single, no kids. Mom likes to tell me "some day you will be like this" to which I respond "yes but I don't have a Jackie to take care of Me" Even with all the range of emotions, etc, I'm glad that I'm able to take care of her and I wouldn't have it any other way. Treasure the time you have with him.

The Cat From Hell said...

Love him, hug him and push the buttons for him. ignore his foibles.
Sending you hugs,
Nellie's Mom