Options for the Elderly

While I could have suggested assisted living several years ago, my dad would have never accepted it. At that time he was too preoccupied with proving he could get along by himself. A live-in caregiver would not have worked well for him either. I was the only one he trusted and allowed to help him. Plus, he found my help palatable only in small doses. Learning to gauge how much help to offer and timing the help at the appropriate moment was key. Achieving a delicate balance became an art that I was constantly fine-tuning.

Who knows how long he’d been teetering with disaster at his heels before I started living with him. When the final moment arrived and it became obvious he could no longer live alone at all, dad made his final stand. That protest led to breaking his hip. However, until he broke his hip, he did not realize he was no longer capable of living by himself.

After staying at Dogwood Haven for nearly nine months, Dad landed in the Fort Payne hospital when he became too weak to walk, incontinent, and incoherent. A hospital examination revealed his heart valve had worsened, and he was put on heart medication. He spent a week in the Collinsville Nursing Home, recuperating after his hospital stay. His physical strength rebounded, but his mental faculties never did. Mentally he continued to deteriorate. A medical scan revealed at some earlier time Dad had suffered a stroke. Brad and I suspected a series of strokes had gone medically undetected.

The chapter at Dogwood Haven Assisted Living closed. As dad’s ability to wheel around with his walker grew strong, so did his desire to wander. He made it down the large hill at Dogwood several times, heading out to visit his mother. His creative toileting went beyond the staff’s abilities to assist and supervise him. The owner recommended Rose Manor, a residence licensed to house residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

My son Brad moved Dad into Rose Manor, and I flew in to visit and complete the paper work. With ten residents and four staff on duty, the staff to resident ratio was up to the task. Two nurses were on duty most of the day. Their friendly, home-y atmosphere and competent staff helped calm my dad. He was put on two additional medications to relieve anxiety and help him sleep at night.

His mind continued to slip. I called every day, and one day Dad told me he was going to call Lyn and have her take him home. I explained that I was Lyn, and I was in California now, a bit far away to visit on such short notice. He seemed to understand, and then told me several more times he was ready to go home and would have Lyn come and get him.


8 Responses to “Options for the Elderly”

  1. Billie Says:

    Your story is becoming closer to what I am experiencing with my own Grandmother now…the mind has completely gone as far as knowing who we are…she knows she KNOWS us but as quickly as that thought comes, its gone again. Its really tought hanging on …….

    Kepp writing, believe it or not, it gives me something tangible to clasp….

  2. writerchick Says:

    It must have been hard to hear him say he was going to call Lyn to come get him. You’re a strong woman, PG.

  3. popsgirl Says:

    Thanks Billie. I’m glad you can relate to this. It’s strange what’s happening with their minds. Sometimes my dad knows who I am, but can’t think of my name. Other times, like with my most recent visit, he didn’t know who I was the first day I visited. By the last day he was asking the attendant if he had met his daughter Lyn. With my dad, there are definitely bad days and better days.
    ~ PG

    WC, yea that was pretty rough hearing him say that. Going home has become a reoccurring theme. One time I asked him where home was and it was Akron, Ohio in the house where he grew up. He wanted to see his mom and dad. He almost started crying when I explained that they had passed away many years ago. It registered like a new loss for him.

    This last trip when I asked him where “home” was, he said it was in Alabama at his house (before he went into assisted living and then the nursing home). Depending on when we talk, the memories vary, and I can gauge the state of his memory by where “home” is.
    ~ PG

  4. writerchick Says:

    Well PG, as they say – home is where the heart is – and no matter what your pop seems to have quite a heart.

  5. popsgirl Says:

    So true. Thanks for that. That sparkle in his eye and the heartfelt moments do make his decline bearable. Pop has quite a heart–well said.
    ~ PG

  6. Paige Says:

    Hi, came through WC and Evyl. My maternal Grandmother has Alzheimer’s and vascular dimentia and I’ve been her care taker for working on 4 years. Thanks for sharing your situation.

  7. michaelm Says:

    It is hard when you have to make those tough decisions.
    Remember, you’re doing it for him. He wants to make you forget that fact. Believe in what you’re doing and the sun will eventually come out.
    Hang in there, PG.
    You’ll get to the ‘other’ side someday soon.


  8. Popsgirl Says:

    Paige– More power to you hanging in there for 4 years as your grandmother’s caretaker. I know you must have had some tough times too.
    ~ PG

    Michael–Yes, the tough decisions are hard, not to mention the role reversal of spending most of your life with your parents as your decision-makers, only to find that now you’re the one in charge of them. Thanks for your encouragement and the glimmer of sunlight. 🙂

    ~ PG

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