not all bad news

To be honest, I felt pretty stressed out this morning. Well, look at the time. Yesterday morning. I had to go to Walmart and pick up some clothes for Dad, most of his pants are way too big these days. But the stress was about going to see him and getting yelled at some more. Surprisingly, he was calm and relaxed and seemed to pretty well accept being there. He didn’t demand to go home even once. He’s still confused. He’s worried about his wallet, for example, but it’s really not a great idea to keep anything you’re concerned about losing at the nursing home. They have smoking times so I brought his cigarettes. He can’t keep them in his room so he’s often looking for them, but at least he’s allowed to smoke some so there’s less of a complaint there.

I talked with the social worker and finished some bits and pieces of paperwork. She did an extended mental status with Dad and the only things he got right were who he was and where he was. Her assessment is that he is legally incompetent and, if we have to do the guardianship thing, she thinks that it will go easily. Right now, we’re still acting on the idea that it may be possible for him to return home for a while. DFS apparently is in favor of him staying there. I probably am too. I feel guilty but even if he gets physically stronger, his dementia is going to continue to make him unsafe, particularly with the delusions. But we’ll see how it goes. I hear that he’s having meals with Mom. If he stays there, we will probably try to let them room together.

I also spoke with the physical therapists. He did pretty well walking today but we talked about my various concerns about his safety at home. The PT noted that Dad didn’t approach getting out of a chair like other people would. He tries to press straight up so he falls back. With some coaching that improved, at least while the therapist was there. Apparently, he also told them that he was a Colonel in the Army and couldn’t talk about pretty much anything. He was, by the way, in the weather service in the Air Force.

I feel better tonight. I plan to take tomorrow off, do a few things around the house and not go anywhere. Thursday his home worker comes and since there is less mess than usual, I hope she can help me get some cleaning projects done upstairs. I imagine I won’t be able to keep her with Dad not home so it’d be good to have a better job done on the kitchen than she normally has time for – clean out the fridge and things like that. It’d be nice to have someone come in at least once per month to vacuum and dust upstairs but we will see. I meet with Dad’s attorney in the afternoon to discuss the power of attorney and possible guardianship.

I’m a little curious to see how the decreased stress will feel. I know that at least for the next several weeks that I don’t have to listen for movement upstairs or worry I will find Dad dead in the morning. I guess the biggest stress at home will be trying to get the kitties to get along. Maybe I can even write about something else!

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10 thoughts on “not all bad news”

  1. Zazzy,please don’t feel guilty !

    You are doing all the right things ! Your dad isn’t able to take care of himself anymore.He can visit and eat meals with your mom,that is wonderful ! You are a loving daughter and are doing what is best for your dad !

    If you decide to take your dad home again,or feel pressured by other people to take him home, it may not be easy to get him back into the care home again.My friend was told to not take her mom back home again by her own doctor.I think her doctor knew how difficult it would be to get her mom back into the nursing home.

    I’m sending good thoughts and lots of hugs your way !

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    1. That’s something I’ve been thinking about. Even if he gets physically stronger, the dementia isn’t going to improve and he’ll still be at risk at home. Plus, getting him back would require another hospitalization unless I get guardianship first. Dunno. I see the attorney tomorrow to talk about options.

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    1. A great deal of relief goes with the guilt. But one of the reasons I want someone else involved in the decision of what is best for him is because I don’t want my frustration and stress to push for something that isn’t right for him yet. So far, however, every doctor we’ve talked to says he is not safe at home and the nursing home social worker says he clearly is not competent plus DFS is in favor of it and the state will probably continue to be involved since he was hotlined – by the hospital and I also went over to DFS to get help with the safety issue.

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  2. I think all of us who have dealt with loved ones with serious illnesses have a bit of PTSD when we don’t have them around. It’s a relief and yet we feel guilty. It’s a strange dynamic. I don’t have all the appointments or stress that I did when my husband was alive, yet I don’t know quite what to do with myself either. Hope your dad stays where he can be safe and that you can relax!

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    1. You’re right Margaret. I had to be reminded of what it was like when we had to place Mom in the nursing home. She didn’t want to be there either and it’s always a gray area of when it’s the “right” time. I felt horrible guilt and cried in my car every time I went to visit her. There was certainly the possibility of keeping her home a little longer but neither Dad nor I could really give her all the care she needed, she was falling, she was delusional and hallucinating. Dad is pretty much in the same place with his dementia except I don’t think he’s been hallucinating.

      In a weird way, it is very similar to a death. There are far more bits of the dad I knew left than there are of Mom at this point, but there is grief there. Dementia/Alzheimer’s involves such a lot of losses, they just happen more over time than death does.

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  3. How true that is, that’s it’s like a death. But a terribly prolonged one. The person you knew gradually recedes, leaving just the face you recognise and little else. My good friend is struggling with this with her mother, although her mother is in care now. My friend never knows when her mum is going to have lucid moments either, so it’s difficult to prepare for a visit – will she recognise her or not? It’s hard to prepare for. At least your dad is safe now and you can have some breathing space and time to recuperate yourself. From what I’ve read, your health is suffering too.

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    1. I was thinking about what I wrote. Death can be long and lingering too, losing pieces of a loved one at a time. I’ve always thought that most illnesses are more finite where dementia can go on forever – but perhaps that’s just because it’s what we’re dealing with here. I’m planning on improving my own health and sadly, part of that seems dependent on him staying in the nursing home.

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  4. It might help you to manage the guilt better if you consider what your mother would probably want for you and for him. I am making a pretty good guess that she would want you to bring him to her and finally focus on your own health, after devoting so many years to worrying over and caring for others. I don’t know her, of course, but if you were my daughter, that is what I would want with all my heart – and I would tell my husband that, too.

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    1. Mom never wanted to be a “burden,” which is a guilt unto itself. Alzheimer’s and dementia are going to make you a burden, no matter how much your caregiver loves you. I do think she would understand Dad needing to be in the nursing home. I think the trouble I’m having is he’s really still in that gray area and a lot of why he needs to be there is that I can’t take care of him. I can’t get him off the floor if he falls, I can’t climb the stairs constantly – and honestly, I can’t manage the stress well enough for my mental health. I feel kind of ashamed for all those thing.

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