email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dad at the "Home"

Well, it's been 4 days now since Dad left.  Brother has visited once and Sister a couple of times.  They say he is settling in well and talking to the other residents.

The Washington Post newspaper had a good series of articles about elder dementia.  Things like (paraphrased) my elderly mother said she saw giraffes in the yard and when we suggested maybe she saw some deer, said I know what giraffes look like.  Then they pointed out that asking detailed question sometimes helps the false memory fade quickly.  Like "which way were they going, what were they eating, etc".  Not "no. you didn't see any giraffes".  Which is what I was doing.  I sure wish I'd known that a few months ago. 

But one of the articles was about a lady visiting her elder mom and the Mom recognized her name and even introduced her to some other residents by full name and even nickname, whish reassured the daughter that she was recognized.  They went outside and were joined by another resident.  They talked awhile and the daughter got up to look at the flowers.  She overheard the other resident ask her mom who she (daughter) was.  The mom said "some lady from church".

That's when you know it really doesn't matter if you don't visit anymore...

The lady in the article mentioned that if your elder has a bad hip, the Dr hands you a pamphlet; if your elder needs a walker, they hand you a pamphlet; but if your elder is demented, they don't have a pamphlet.  She said she sure could have used a pamphlet!  I sure could have used a pamphlet too.  But you all helped, and there WAS the internet for some research.  Your help mattered more.

So when Sister visited Dad yesterday and she mentioned how I had provided his favorite snacks and such, and he couldn't remember being here, I wasn't completely caught by surprise.  I thought it might be a month before he forgot being here, but 4 days?  Wow.

I don't think there is any need for me to visit Dad in the future.  I don't mean it as annoyed that he doesn't remember me, I just recognize that his memory of his time here (and me) is out of his memory now and that it is a natural progression of his dementia.  His life will be moment-to-moment from here on out to his end.  I accept that and it does not make me feel badly about him or myself.  I am just glad that we got him into professional care at literally the Exact Right Day.  There is something to be said for the random events in the universe acting in your favor occasionally.

OK, well, with all that past, I had a good day in the yard!  But I think I will save that for tomorrow.  I'll just end this with pictures of Dad...

His place in FL, completely forgotten after a few months.
Dad when he first arrived here. Moderately sensible.
He even allowed Iza up on his lap.  But he stopped allowing that very suddenly.
He mostly dozed through the days after that.  And, no, not a stroke.
Became less aware of his surroundings...
He always did love bread for some reason.  He admired this perfectly-cooked loaf and wanted to show it off.  He often spoke of his Mom baking bread, so I'm sure it was a good memory.  He liked that the bread was warm too.
He began to complain about Iza liking to get too close to him (as she does all people) in Winter. That's where he really began to fall apart mentally.
And, again, Dad going into Sister's car to go the the assisted living facility...
After a year of wearing thin shirts that were too light for the house temperature (74F), he suddenly began wearing clothes that were too warm for the temperature (76F and humid).

I guess I'm pretty much saying goodbye to him now.  If I visited him now, he would probably think I was "some guy from the hardware store" and I probably don't need to drive 90 miles to hear that.  I will love him as he was years ago, and with the best parts of the last year when his memory temporarily worked, and the memory that I did my part in his final year or so.  I have formally passed Dad off to the care of Sister and the assisted living care facility.

Sister will let me know how his days go and when his final days approach.  I will be there at the end if there is at least 2 hours notice.  I expect that, one of these days, he simply won't wake up.  That's sure not the worst way to go.

Tomorrow, I get back to reporting on yard and house projects, and I'm already on my way!  I got some good things done today and will report on them tomorrow.


7 comments:

Megan said...

Thanks for the update on your Dad, Mark. It's good to know that he's arrived and appears to be settling in well.

While I understand completely that you don't need to visit for your own sake, there is one argument for visiting. You'd have to think that if the staff know that your dad has regular family visitors, they might perhaps be more likely to ensure that he's always dressed neatly and that his room is tidy or whatever.

I'm not suggesting that the staff aren't professional or that residents without regular visitors aren't looked after appropriately. But it's just a human nature kind of thing: that if 'job performance' is scrutinised more often, SOME people will work 'harder' and/or do a better job than if it weren't.

Now, visits by your brother and sister may have the desired effect (if there is, in fact, any merit in the argument), so there may be no need for you to drive 90 miles just to check up and make sure that everything is as it should be.

But if you go every now and then, that's a visit that may save your brother or sister from going that week. Having been a primary carer yourself for a year, you can probably imagine that even a small respite every now and then helps.

Just a thought.

Megan
Sydney, Australia

ABBY said...

I understand.
But it's still hard knowing your Dad is slipping away mentally.
But, he is in the right place that will care for his daily needs. You really did an outstanding job in caring for him this past year. I bet you could write your own pamphlet now. Wishing your Dad and family well.

Katnip Lounge said...

Scott came to the same decision three years ago about his Mom. The nursing home staff knows we're 2000 miles away, but always close enough for a phone call; and they check in regularly with us, plus Scott has a monthly conference call care meeting. Mom doesn't know who we are any more; it's sad, but at least she's not unhappy.

Mariodacatsmom said...

There is something good to be said for Dementia - the patient doesn't know they are supposed to be unhappy. i found that with my mother too. She didn't know me, but she was always happy. You did a wonderful job. Maybe it would be a good idea to write a pamphlet for caregivers. I think it would be useful.

Andrea and the Celestial Kitties said...

Four days, wow, that was fast. It does sound like you got him there at the right time. What a shame though, that he doesn't remember what good care you took of him for a year. But at least you know, and your family knows, and we know. You did a well in a job that's not easy.

The Cat From Hell said...

Mark, I feel badly that your Dad has gone beyond knowing what you did for him the last year. That is tough and I am sure your family does not understand!
But we know and I think you did an awesome job!
It is so tough to watch our parents crumble.

Shaggy and Scout said...

I don't quite know what to write, Mark. The last year was a journey for both of you, whether he remembers it or not. You did the right thing, you finished the race. Now the other family members step up to the plate for this final round. (Am I mixing my metaphors and sports...) Well, you get the idea.
Lynne