Senior Connection

Aug 28, 2014

Dad, Are You In There? (Part III)

by Patti Holm 

            By now, dad is back at the nursing facility after suffering a major heart attack and stroke.  He is on "comfort" measures only.  He made sure that I knew what he wanted if it ever came to this.  He never wanted any "heroic" measures or machines keeping him alive.  He told me that he never wanted to exist as a vegetable.  This has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.  I just sit with him, hold his hand, put cool cloths on his forehead, talk and pray with him.  So many family members and friends come to visit him, but are not sure what to say, so we just visit together for a while.  I believe that on some level, he knows we're here -- maybe.  The staff assures me that he is not in pain, and is not suffering, but I wrestle with the what-ifs.  I ask about how long "it" will take, and they tell me that "it" varies with each person.  The will to live is stronger in some than in others.  I sit and wonder about the purpose of all this, and I feel the pain of losing someone so dear.  I know that deep down, there is a reason, so I just keep waiting.  I find myself taking a trip of my own down "memory lane."  I want to gently shake him one more time and ask, "Dad, are you in there?"

Aug 15, 2014

Dad, Are You In There? (Part II)

by Patti Holm

            I know now that Dad cannot live alone anymore.  He's been in and out of the hospital several times for the same problems.  Each time, a little bit more of him is gone.  The doctors tell me that he has a condition known as dementia, and that it's not safe for him to live alone.  At this point, he will go for some rehab until he gets a little stronger.  After this he will have to go to a nursing facility with around-the-clock care. 
            While he was in rehab, I was able to find a nice nursing facility for him.  They were very helpful in all aspects of the transition for him.  Dad is now angry with me.  He does not want to be in "this place".  He asks me why I put him here.  I tell him that it's not me, but the doctors that would like him in a safe place while getting stronger.  He asks me things about the need for a wheelchair, why he can't use his walker, and why they have to help him all the time.  I just pretend a lot to keep my sanity at this point, because I hate to see him so agitated.  In his mind, he can walk and take care of himself.  The reality of something so debilitating robbing him of his independence, is very difficult to deal with. He doesn't understand that he is in a facility like this so he will be "safe". 

            Some days are better that others, but I always feel so helpless.  We talk about old times, and these are the times when he is the happiest.  I want to shake him though, and ask "Dad, are you in there?"  I'm grateful that he still knows me when I go to see him, but also know that there may be a time when this too shall end.    

Aug 8, 2014

Dad, Are You In There? (Part 1)

by Patti Holm 

"Do you want to go for a ride Dad?"  He says "sure, we'll go wherever you'd like to go."  Dad doesn't drive anymore, except in his mind.  "I'll drive today, Dad."  He asks me where we are going.  I tell him that we're going to his favorite fishing spot on the lake.  He then tells me that he doesn't want to go there, and when I ask him why, he tells me that it's not the same, and that there's nothing there anymore.  I decide to take him back to his nice apartment in the senior living complex.  When we get inside, he asks me when we're going for a ride.  I just wanted to shake him and say, "Dad, are you in there?"  I know doing that would not be very helpful since we do this every time we get together whether it's for a shopping trip, doctor's appointment or just to go for a ride to get ice cream or a coffee.  I usually just change the subject, and talk about old times.  It's a thing I call "going down memory lane."  We sometimes look at old pictures or work on a puzzle.  He likes to take a snooze while I do the puzzle!  I also take the opportunity to clean, put out his clothes for the next day, pack up the laundry to do at home.  By now, it almost time for dinner.  I usually pre-make meals for him to take out of the refrigerator or freezer, but he usually forgets if he is alone, so if I do it for him, he'll have something nourishing.  I put out his medicine with little notes so he'll see it.  The next day, we start the same process all over again.  "Dad, are you in there?"    


To Enhance The Quality Of Life For Area Seniors And Their Caregivers, The Central Massachusetts Agency On Aging Will Provide Leadership, Information And Resources, Coordination Of Services And Advocacy.