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Worried about dad....

Friday, April 26, 2013

It has been nearly a year and a half since my mom passed away, so the focus has been on my dad and how he is doing being alone after 60 years of being with the same person. Last year was his year to adjust develop new routines, mourn, etc. When I was there in December of last year, he seems pretty resolute that in 2013 he would get serious about looking into one of the local retirement communities (he lives just south of Tucson, so there are no shortages of them!).

Well, here we are nearly to May, and not a peep on the subject. Normally I would not be overly concerned, but two recent conversations have us concerned:

- last Saturday, my brother talked to him (normal Saturday call), and in the midst of that call asked about plans for my youngest daughter to go visit him. My dad drew a blank at first, then told my brother he thought it was my older daughter coming to see him, but was not sure when.

- Wednesday evening, I called him (normal Wednesday evening call). Usual pleasantries. (Note: I was unaware about the Saturday call.) Then I asked him about his "company" coming this Saturday. Initially, he drew a blank! Then, like the Saturday call with my brother, he thought it was my older daughter coming, but he could not even remember her name!

My youngest daughter had not planned to rent a car while she was there, as she had a big enough bill to deal with on the hotel, so we decided we'd pick up the hotel bill while she was there and allow her to get a rental car (she is 23, so she gets hit with the "under 25 rental car premium!). Since going to the airport is not part of my dad's routine, we are concerned he might forget to even go, or if he did do that, who he was even picking up!).

But now my brother and I are much more concerned. We're going to let my daughter do some recon work for us while she is there to determine what the next steps should be, but I know in my mind we need to start encouraging him a lot more on the retirement community. Hopefully this does come to "forcing" him to go, but clearly there are some mental concerns that we need to address soon.

Love going to Tucson, but the next visit may not be too pleasant...

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Yup Yup
    Been there
    Done that
    Never easy
    Glad it's over
    Thank God for a sister.

    My dad wasn't a stupid man. He resisted because the thought of packing up all his clutter - and the thought of other people knowing just what a clutter bug he was - kept him frozen. I completely understand. I just hope I am different when it's my turn.

    1810 days ago
    emoticon Patrick!
    DH and I have had similar situations, as growing older is part of life's process. Both sets of parents are gone now, and there were difficult moments in their journeys.
    I know you will do whatever is necessary and what is best for them. To love unconditionally can be a hard thing to do.
    I will be praying for you and your family.
    Everyone who has posted here had good, sound advice.
    Life isn't always logical or fair, but you do the best you can, when you can; then let go and let God guide you.
    1819 days ago
    I have had several people in my family with Alzheimer's. Currently, my mom has Alzheimer's - she is in in her 60s and is in the moderate stages, has had it for about 5 years. When she was still in very mild stages and okay to drive, we had her pick us up from the airport once. She turned into a parking area that she wasn't familiar with and got stuck in there and couldn't get out. She didn't know where she was. We had to have security find her and help direct her. It wasn't long after that her doctor told her she should not drive anymore. You might want to plan for a taxi from the airport to avoid a similar situation.

    Memory loss is such a difficult thing to deal with and it is so hard to watch a family member suffer with it. Just embrace every moment you have and use your time wisely - planning for the future, etc. Moving him into an assisted living might be the best thing right now, someplace where there is an easy transition into additional nursing care if that becomes needed in the future.

    My heart goes out to you and your family.
    1821 days ago
    Oh... almost forgot. Gail Sheehy wrote a book full of good advice and contacts called Passages in Caregiving. I highly recommend it for anyone starting this process.
    1822 days ago
    DougDC's comments are very helpful.

    I work home health and hospice. You may want to have a home health agency help out in the meantime. They can come by for as little as two hours a day and help with activities of daily living. This may be cooking, cleaning, etc... or personal care. If you get a good agency and a good caregiver (I'm being careful here, because some are more like babysitters than health care providers), you can get a very realistic report of how he is doing, even from a distance. Some of the employees will be bonded to help with things like filling medication or writing checks. Some may drive them to doctors appointments and report afterwards to family members.

    During this time period, you can gradually - with enough time to do it properly - handle the other arrangements for making a peaceful move. Be careful who you select and make sure you know what the financial repercussions are, including what could happen to any inheritance for you, your brother and your children if the senior living place should decide to seize half his assets, which they sometimes do. Know that these places are very, very expensive. Find out what kind of long term care arrangements he has, if any, what Medicare covers and what it doesn't, and if you should sell his house FIRST and distribute the funds into a trust to lessen any assets remaining in his name. Again, talk to a financial advisor. The goal is to have funds available for his needs but not to let the facility bleed his heirs dry.

    I don't mean to frighten you... some facilities are very good. Look for one that has a graduated arrangement, if possible, as Sylph suggested. Also, look for a nonprofit, even if it is run by a religious organization that is not necessarily your religion. They are more likely to have adequate staffing. Read the reviews. Talk to as many other people as you can who have experiences with rehab facilities and related facilities, because they are often under the same ownership and management. Talk seriously with the owners and staff of the home care team.

    Good luck. Hugs all around.

    1822 days ago
  • GETTO140
    Sorry to hear about your dad. He is a very lucky person to have you and your brother to be able to take care of him.
    1823 days ago
    My father was very angry at me for forcing him into assisted living at first, then grateful. It will work out better if you do it sooner as he will adjust to it better the more alert he is. New friends and activities helped him a lot. Very frequent visits let him know he was cared about and kept the facility more on its toes. Make sure you choose a good facility, many states have ratings, results of their licensing visits, and copies of consumer complaints on their websites.

    It helped me a lot to remember that this stage is a natural part of life and it helped him as well to be reminded that his confusion and memory loss was okay--"That's your job these days, you are safe and everything is okay."

    Family bonds, loving exchanges, patience, and understanding assuaged the sorrow of watching a prideful CPA not even be able to work his computer or figure out how to sign a credit card slip. It all works out, really.
    1823 days ago
  • GETSTRONGRRR to be prepared though. Listen to what your daughter has to say...she'll have eyes on and can tell you what she sees
    1824 days ago
    I'm sorry about your dad, Patrick. I remember one of the first clues we had that we needed to watch my dad was when his email started showing up with typos. That turned out to be a sign of a series of mini-strokes, and the start of the end for him.

    I hope the situation with your dad turns out not to be that serious, but even if it is it sounds like you and the rest of the family are on top of things.
    1824 days ago
    A tough stage of life to deal with. Hoping all works out. -- Lou
    1824 days ago
    Patrick, best wishes to you and your family as you face some potentially tough decisions.
    1824 days ago
    I hope your father's lapse doesn't mean what you're thinking. If there is cause for concern, though, you might want to look into graduated (I think that's the name) assisted-living communities. People who need just some help have their own apartments. As they need greater help, they move to the next level of care provided within the same facility.

    Best wishes. Again, I hope your wariness is unfounded.
    1824 days ago
    Hugs Patrick. I hope your Dad is ok, and that you can keep on top of any health issues.
    Praying for the best.

    1824 days ago
    Someone in the family needs to get a durable power of attorney for him for health care and financial decisions immediately, while he can still legally sign the papers.

    Believe me, been there, done that for both my parents. It's a lot better to do this before you have to go to court to have a guardian appointed.
    1824 days ago
    "Your daughter can gain an impression about diet, cooking, what's stored in the refrig, and for how long, laundry. The things one has to do to keep healthy."

    For sure. So often what triggers seeming senility in seniors is poor diet or failure to take meds. Probably good if you can talk with his doc. about what's happening.

    Hope all goes well with this, Patrick.
    1824 days ago
    Best wishes on this situation. My dad is in a similar situation.
    1824 days ago
    Sorry to hear about your dad. Yes, it sounds like he would be better off in a retirement community where there are people to visit with and be in a safe environment. I have been in retirement communities the past five years. I'm 71 and love being able to live independently but have people to visit with, plus we watch out for each other.

    Good luck to you and your family with your decisions.
    1824 days ago
  • PDQ1203
    totally know what its like

    i am very glad your dad has your support
    as you well know, there are lots of dads (and moms) out there who have no one supporting them
    1824 days ago
    Am there, Doing that.

    The memory blips would also make me wonder how well things like paying bills are going. It may be time for you and your brother (and other sibs?) to ask for on-line access to bank accounts, to get bills delivered on-line in addition to your dad via mail, and that way simply ensure that the mortgage/rent, taxes, utilities, and credit cards are all being paid in a timely way.

    Your daughter can gain an impression about diet, cooking, what's stored in the refrig, and for how long, laundry. The things one has to do to keep healthy.

    And she can get an idea about how much your dad is willing to go out, how comfortable he is driving. Can he remember how to get to places like the doctor's office, or his own home? How comfortable she is as a passenger?

    That kind of data may help fuel some further conversations. Your dad is lucky to have you and your brother for support.

    All the best...
    1824 days ago
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