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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Back To Dad...

This is probably repetitive, but Dad is getting worse.  I don't mean to say that I expected him to get better, but in good weeks he stays at least the same.  This was not one of those weeks.

I'm almost feeling bad writing about his problems.  Those who are experiencing elder care (spouse or child) already know how the weeks go, and those who don't can't quite understand it.  But the last week has gone downhill, and I have to write about it.  Nothing especially "horrible".  It just the increasing confusion that makes things so difficult. 

I'm not sure whether I imagined this in a dream or whether I saw it in print somewhere, but I have this image of a 1 panel cartoon with a grampa, a middle-age adult, and and a baby.  Each has a thought balloon...

The middle-age adult's says "they are driving me crazy".  The Grampa's says "I'm getting worse".  The baby's says "I'm going to get more able".

I'd rather have the baby, but I have the Grampa, and I didn't get to choose.

Lest you think that this middle-aged adult doesn't know what babies are like, I do.  I was the eldest child and my youngest sister was born when I was 15.  Guess who was the constant babysitter?  I'll bet I changed more diapers and cleaned more bottoms than many fathers.  Not "all" but "many"...

Dad is more confusing almost every day.  I both wish and don't wish that he would reach the point where I can't care for him 

1.  The "wish" part comes from the way he is so confused sometimes that he confuses ME and I don't know how to respond.  I would love to be relieved of the confusion.  The simplest things are baffling him, and he seeks explanations.  I give them as simply as I can, of course, but simple isn't always complete and he can still detect that "sometimes". 

An example:  It is the time of year here when days stay warm but nights get cold.  I am used to turning on the heat at night and the AC in the day to keep the house between 7 and 73 year-round (yes, I'm a temperature wimp - I have a very precise comfort zone).  Outside, temp variations are broad because there is wind and open air.  Outside, I am happy between 60 and 80. 

Anyway, Dad has insisted that the floor vents in his bedroom and the TV room (where he spends ALL day) be blocked "from that damned freezing air".  Which worked well all Summer...  But now the temperatures fluctuate.  Yesterday, he called me in to look at the floor.  He was horrified to find COLD AIR pouring up from the vent! 

There was a reason.  The day before, I advised Dad that I was turning on the heat at night so he wouldn't feel too cold.  But that he would have to replace the closed vent cover in the daytime when the AC came one cuz it got over 80 degrees.  He said he understood that.  But he forgot that of course.

Tonight, we had the exact same discussion, and he (angrily) said he understood the vent had to be changed each day,  Tomorrow, we will have the same discussion again, because he won't recall any of it (and more importntly, won't understand WHY the vent has to be changed to suit his comfort zone.  I understand that he will NEVER remember about the vent...  I accept it.  But it drives me nuts to explain the same thing day after day.

2.  The "don't wish" part is that I don't want Dad to lose his mind.  I am used to him being angrily conservative while I am unapologetically progressive (not always "liberal", there's a difference).  But him being "nuts" (technical term, LOL) is very different.  He asks me the weirdest things sometimes.

Is the chicken cooked?
Do you have a sandwich for yourself?  (He has the other half of our mutual lunch sandwich - It's a big loaf).
Same with giving him a half a peach after a meal.  "Do you have some for yourself?"  (Yes I have the other half and its on the plate right next to me).
Are you having dinner too?  (seeing two chicken thighs cooked and one on each of our plates).
He won't eat a snack of potato chips if he doesn't see some on my plate.

But those are the minor examples.

He knocked on my bedroom door last night at 3 am and asked if I was warm enough.  Warm enough?  I was sweating from the heat of 73.  And at 3 am?  And does he not think I can mange the temperture of the house?   HE can't.  He has no idea how the thermostat works.

He asks the same questions EVERY day.  Did I get enough sleep? Am I hungry?  Do I see a groundhog outside?  Did I hear someone knocking at the door?    Have I washed?  Can I hear the TV? 

He's basically insane.  I sleep well; if I'm hungry, I eat; If I'm cold, I wear warmer clothes (he doesn't), if someone knocks at the door, I will answer it (seldom happens), I wash my hands a dozen times a day (cleaning kitty litter boxes or handling raw meat).  I can hear the TV across the house at the volume Dad needs it at.  I think he thinks I am a child again. 

I have learned to answer most of his questions YES/NO.  Explanations beyond that baffle him.   Two thoughts in one sentence is one more than he can follow.  

This is too long a post, but it is not long enough to express all my confusions with Dad...

Here is Dad complaining of being cold.  Wearing shorts and the thinnest possible knit shirt...
I CANNOT get him to wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants! Sometimes he will put on a windbreaker  jacket, which is utterly weird!


Tina T-P said...

House looks great! Now, have you looked into seeing if you can get respite care? You need a break, before YOU break. And since he is going down hill so rapidly, have you gotten to the dr's - maybe he's having a problem with one of his meds. A change in my friend's mom's meds turned her from rapidly becoming a loony back to a semblance of sanity. And maybe the Dr. - being a person of authority could get him to dress more reasonably... Just looking in from the outside. T.

Andrea and the Celestial Kitties said...

I think it's ok to vent. I think it's GOOD to vent! So don't worry about a post being too long, you have a lot to get off your chest.
I agree with T above.. meds can make a huge difference, if there is a problem, maybe dosages can be changed.
I know his questions are probably very frustrating, but they might be his way of having a conversation. My great gramma used to ask the same things over and over, she just wanted to talk.
If you do the laundry, perhaps his short pants and light shirts don't have to come back from the wash... "sorry dad, those are still waiting to be washed, how about these other pants?"

Mark's Mews (Ayla, Iza, and Marley) said...

Thank you both for the great ideas!

ABBY said...

I was wondering if your Dad still thinks he is in FL hence the shorts (which you can still wear here).
I was also thinking you need some advice from medical experts. How to handle the increasing forgetfulness and repeated questions.
Would signs on the vents help?
It's tough seeing our parents frail, please get some answers for yourself. There may be an elder care help group that would be able to answer some of your questions.

Mariodacat said...

Mario's mom here - you are traveling a bumpy road friend. I was just at a friend's house this weekend who is going thru the same thing with her husband. It's hard- - so very hard to live with that daily. You need to vent, so what better place than your personal blog, which some day may be very useful to someone else going thru this. You do need respite care so you get a break - even if it's only one of two afternoons/days a week - whatever you can get. Call your doctor's office to see if they know of anyone that provides respite care.
Or contact your local Senior Citizens office where they distribute meals on wheels. It will take time to investigate the possibilities, but oh so worth it in the end. You will probably have to pay something out of pocket for this, but again worth it if it saves your own sanity.

Sadie & Itty said...

I agree with everyone. Check w/ his docs and see about getting respite care. You have to take care of yourself so you can take care of him. I'm learning that myself.
My mom has been going thru old pictures, asking me if I know who they are. Then she asked me if I wanted to take them home; she lives with me. It can be so hard at times to see them this way.

All I can say is cherish the good moments.

Shaggy and Scout said...

Mark, all the ideas above sound reasonable, especially about you getting a respite, especially since you are used to a solitary life.

Katnip Lounge said...

I also agree about the respite care. You are important too, you need to be around and sane to make the decisions for the both of you.

I think also it might be time for a medical assessment of your Dad's abilities. It would be devastating to wake up and he'd gone wandering.

Perhaps some anti-anxiety medication would help him. I can't help but wonder if a person's mind isn't trapped in there, somehow, unable to get out.

Katie Isabella said...

Mark, I would have suggested several of the things already mentioned here. For certain, respite day care, the laundry not getting done yet..the Dr. To be the authoritative one so that he will "mind". Please do these things.

Don't mind the incessant questions about food. He means well and thinks he is sharing with you, not the other way around. But it does get hard what with all the other problems. And like me, you are solitary---or we're and these things are really impacting you. They would me as well.

I have made it up to 39 years old and a package of Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip? Nirvana. Thanks you.

The Cat From Hell said...

Nellie's Mom here.
Its tough. I took all my husbands shorts away and only left sweats in the closet. When he asked me what happened, I told him his legs told me they were cold becaise it was fall. He told me the long pants were hard to get on and I said, "Sit on the bed when you put them on."
He has not even asked me where his shorts are.
I won't get into the chicken and how it should be cooked. That is another day.
BTW, your house looks marvelous!
Remember, we are here. Yes you can vent