Monday, January 23, 2012

Mom and Dad

Where to start? My plan was that beginning with the new year I was going to try to get back to daily blogging. I really enjoy blogging, and was looking forward to trying for another run of over 100 daily blogs? As the old adage goes, life is what happens while we make other plans? Or something like that?

January 1st, I took my Dad to the hospital. Our neighborhood hospital is right up the street ... my Dad likes to comment that "we can see Highland Hospital from our kitchen window". He had been complaining for a couple of days about a minor cold, but mostly about just feeling weak and out of breath with the slightest effort. We had decided to call his doctor after the holiday, but when Cheryl came over to their place that afternoon, she said - "Call the doctor NOW!" The ER at Highland was wonderful, and within about 50 minutes we had our diagnosis, and treatment was underway..... pneumonia and congestive heart failure. A subsequent visit to his heart doctor a week later added that his long standing atrial fibrillation was probably the main factor. To make a long story short, Dad spent a week in the hospital, followed by two weeks of rehab at the Episcopal Church Home - also right down the street, and he is now home, and doing quite well thank you.

The "rest of the story" is that for almost three years, Dad has been the primary care giver for my Mom who has been dealing with slowly advancing dementia of unknown origin. Recently her memory problems have been getting worse. With Dad in the hospital, I (with a lot of help from Cheryl) spent full time with Mom because she is totally unable to cope alone. Bless her, she so badly wanted to help take care of Dad, but had no idea of what to do or how to proceed! The above picture is of them holding hands during one of Mom's daily visits to his room on the heart care unit.

On January 6th, Mom went into "transitional care". She is in a special unit with 24 hour a day care, and is on the waiting list for the "memory care" unit of another neighborhood institution - Kirkhaven nursing home. Also on January 6th, Dad was transferred to the rehab unit mentioned above, and worked very hard at regaining his strength and stamina. His best prognosis however is that while he can probably function fine on his own at home, he will never have the ability to handle the amount of care and constant attention that would be required to continue to have Mom at home with him.

We had been asked to not visit Mom for a while because it would make it harder for her to adjust to the change in her life, and while it was difficult, we did not see her for about a week. I did go visit her about a week ago, and she seemed to be doing well given her circumstances. Dad and I went to see her today.... first time Dad has seen her in two weeks. We stayed about an hour, and it went quite well. She was very quiet and sort of "spacey", and while she seemed glad to see us, and knew who we were, she just sat quietly and held our hands. Leaving was not as difficult as we thought it might be.

Lest you think me heartless, the advice to not visit her was good advice. Several other people confirmed the difficulty people with dementia have dealing with changes, and that visits from friends and family actually make the process a lot harder.

Mom is doing as well as can be expected given her level of dementia. Dad is doing quite well, and looks the best he has in quite a while, because he can actually sleep through the night, and Don is feeling good too, because Dad is doing well, and Mom is getting the best possible care under the circumstances. While I still carry my cell phone 24 hours a day, and sleep with it on the nightstand, I probably won't be getting the regular emergency "help" calls from Dad. Dad and I are sleeping more soundly now.

Many heartfelt thanks to all the folks at Highland Hospital, Episcopal Church Home, and Independent Living for Seniors!

Thus the missing first 22 daily blogs from 2012!

1 comment:

The Daily Rant said...

Wow. Where have I been? Not reading as frequently, that's for sure. I know it's months after this post, but I hope your Mom and Dad are doing well. You are always in my thoughts, even if I don't write or comment.