email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dad Update

I've been asked how my Dad is doing.  He is not real happy, but there isn't much I can do about it.  He lost the ability to take care of himself about 2 years ago when he turned 90.  Some of you may remember that I had to fly down from MD to FL to retrieve him from a rehab hospital where he had been held for a month due to doctor-judged incapacity.

I and my brother got him up to my house where I took care of him for a year as he gradually became less able to manage daily affairs even with my help.  Last April, my sister found a good assisted-living facility near her where she and my brother and assorted nieces could visit him regularly.

We got him to sell the FL house Fall of 2012 and 2 condo investments he had in NH this past January.  They were decent investments, but he kept saying he should move to one of them, so we had to get them out of his thoughts.  He doesn't recall either of those places anymore, so that is something less for him to worry about.

Dad gets regular visits from local family.  I hate to drive, so I mostly write letters every few weeks telling him things I am doing.  He likes to read about "accomplishments", as he was a very dedicated D-I-Y type himself (more than I will ever be).

I get the impression that he his generally happy except after family visits.  I know that sounds a bit of a contradiction from above, but it's timing.  Left alone, he is generally OK, mostly complaining he doesn't get to watch all the Fox News political talk and Golf he wants.  Well, that's because there are more ladies there and they like to watch Soaps and Shopping Channel shows and they outnumber him.

We tried a TV in his room, but he can't manage the channels and mostly forgot it was even there.  So he sits quietly and watches whatever is on.  There are scheduled activities, but Dad was always bored by arts and crafts and socializing, so he retreats to his room.

I feel sad about it all.  He wishes his body would just give up and stop.  He's in better physical health than mental health.  Physically, he could live to a 100.  He can sometimes express a fear that he will start living physically without any self-awareness.  I understand that.  He can't do anything about it (personal decision).  By which I mean that *I* hope I can just crawl out on the deck some cold Winter's night and end it all when I think the time has come for ME.  But he doesnt think that way.

He isn't religious in the organized sense, but he does have a residual idea that deliberately ending his own life is somehow "wrong".  I don't agree, but I have been very careful not to say anything about that.  I don't want to influence him in any way.  He is confused enough about his life as it is.  I am not wise enough to give him advice about his last years, and he wouldn't pay any attention to my advice if I gave it to him (I'm just a "child" after all, so what could *I* know).

So I write letters to him that I suspect are barely read and little understood.  I avoid anything complex and (back to the top) about DIY things he might still understand in general and that might give him the reminder that I am DOING THINGS, hoping he likes that.




I have often thought of your Dad and wondered how he was. It is hard to age, there are no two ways around that. As with so many things there are no black or white answers only many shades of gray.

Megan said...

It's a very challenging situation, Mark. All you can do is your best.

Thank you for sharing this update. I've been thinking of your father and wondered how he was faring.

Sydney, Australia

Katnip Lounge said...

Gosh it is tough. My MIL is in the same boat, physically strong but mentally failing...badly. I streamed an interesting piece on Frontline (PBS) last night about assisted suicide and was relieved to know that there are folks out there to help. Morbid but true. I don't want to be gaga and dependent.

Andrea and the Celestial Kitties said...

I understand what you mean about him being upset after family visits. My aunt would get so upset after her sisters visited that the home banned them from visiting. I don't think that was right, and honestly, it didnt stop her from being upset after other people visited.. But anyway, visitors reminded her that she didnt always live there, that she had a home and that's why she was upset. Otherwise, it was just daily living as usual, as she remembered it anyway. Recently cancer kept her from living much longer than when her mind was 'gone'. A blessing I suppose.

Ramblingon said...

I am hoping that I maintain at least to an acceptable degree. When it seems I cannot than things go from there but I would not wish to take my life. Just me being me I suppose.