Monday, September 24, 2012
After her sudden death follwed by a difficult life of health struggles, the responsibility of being the primary caregiver of her elderly father Ronald became mine. Since he could not live independently, he moved into my home. Since she died in late August, I have not been to the gym except once because of his dementia.
There was an incident when he would not go to sleep at night. He kept coming out of his bed and looked for the stove to turn on because he used to be a professional cook. He kept wanting to leave my house because he wanted to go home. When I reminded him that he lived with me now, he said he wanted to be anywhere but in my home. I stayed up all night sitting in front of his bedroom door, repeatedly urging him to stay and go back to bed.
I am afraid to go to the gym and leave him home alone because I am afraid he would just walk out the door. I have a home security alarm system and religiously turn it on because my house was burglarized a couple of months ago. One morning while I was asleep I heard the warning beep of my alarm because he opened a door in an attempt to just leave. I talked to his other daughter Lisa about my concerns. Her response was to just leave him home anyway or to take him to the gym with me. So one day I took him to the gym, asked him to sit in the lobby to wait for me while I took a kickboxing class. Afterwards I panicked a little as he wandered around looking for the bathroom. That was fine. However, he started telling me loudly in the lobby how certain gym participants were so fat that they should have started going to the gym months ago...
Over the weekend he stayed at Lisa's home (same town as mine) while I went on a short weekend getaway to attend a food festival with one of my siblings' family. As I dropped him off, I asked Lisa about the status of acquiring a social worker for senior services for Ronald. Her response was, "Oh, so YOU decided to move him into a senior home?!" I detailed some of the struggles I have had caring for him. She replied that before his other daughter's death, she used to take him grocery shopping with her, and it was just a normal procedure for store employees to page her on the loud speaker about her wandering father.
Yes, I understand that before Ronald and his late daughter moved into their own apartment a year and a half ago, Lisa took them into her home and let them live with her and her husband for a year. Finally after a year, she had to find an apartment for Ronald and his disabled daughter because it was beginning to strain her marriage. Right after Lisa passed away, it was clear that the only immediate thing for Ronald to do was to move into my home. Yesterday Lisa apologized for being short with me. I wanted to tell her that she and her late sister may have had their way of caring for Ronald, but I am different. They may feel it was okay to just leave him home alone, but not me. I feel that his condition has rapidly deteriorated, and I did not feel comfortable leaving him home alone or letting him wander around supermarkets.
This afternoon I asked Ronald what he wanted for lunch. He replied, "Ice cream." I asked if he wanted to have a sandwich or some pasta before ice cream. He snapped, "I said I want ice cream, and that's all I want. If I can't have it, then I just won't eat anything!" I understand he suffers from dementia, but his bad attitude and rudeness is still hard to take.
I wanted to shout to Lisa that SHE is his daughter, not me. I am just an extended family member...