Parental Journal 03 from Planet Elderly: From Hospital to Rehab

Parental Journal Monday March 23, 2015 evening

Mom and I had a conference today to discuss Dad’s discharge from the rehab section of where he is now. She has vacillated between getting him home and keeping him at the Village. She’s been hearing for a while that she’s too frail…it’s not safe for Victor or her…etc. Honestly, she hates being reminded…but the message sank in. She agreed on a transition period into their skilled nursing section. There is no long term commitment and he can be there week to week or month to month…whatever she’s comfortable with. So she chose week to week and it begins this Thursday. His long term care will be extremely expensive, but they can manage it.

I was kind of dreading waking up today and finding her upset…crying downstairs. Turns out I woke up first and she slept soundly until I went to check in on her at 7. She was cheerful…and when we had our light breakfast she asked, “So what do you have planned for today?” I reminded her of the meetings and she got ready to go. We drove slowly through a spring snow and she was fine the whole way.

We had our morning meeting with a caseworker and a staff person. They explained care options and we took a tour of different areas. Then we spent some time with Dad. We took him to his room and it was so sweet. Mom leaned toward him and said, “Victor, I have to talk to you.” She explained that she had to make a decision and wanted to know what he wanted. He just looked at her. She cried a lot and at one point he asked, “Why are you crying?” She told him…and there was little reaction. She tried explaining to him that she was “just too small” to take full care of him. She stroked his hand…kissed his cheek…asked if he liked it there, and all he did was give a slight shrug. Basically he was unresponsive to her inquiries, but he tuned in to her distress and tears. That was touching to watch.

Relaxing in the visiting area.

Relaxing in the visiting area.

She sat with him at the dining table during lunch and then we had the afternoon conference. I was glad to be there because in the morning I had her sit next to me and we wrote questions we would like to ask at the meeting. At the meeting, I shared her/our questions: Will he be able to come home or will he have to stay here? If he has to stay here, can she stay with him? If he comes home, does he need a hospital bed? Is he capable of getting in and out of bed by himself? (my question) Can he walk with a walker? (my question)…etc. So we took time to think of questions that would help her decide what to do. It was kinda funny because at one point I was the one who cried a bit as I explained that one of her priorities was to be with him as much as possible.

Previous to the meeting Mom and I visited about options. It was a good conversation about how nice it would be to continue with the current routine if Dad has to stay there. It’s close. She knows how to get there. She can visit with him whenever she wants. She knows he’s safe. She’s in the home she enjoys.

After the meeting we said goodbye to Dad who was sound asleep in his bed. We went home very hungry and ate a lot of angel hair pasta. Then we worked a bit more on organizing some paperwork.  The paperwork is madness…boxes and boxes and envelope upon envelope of old statements…reports, etc. We plan to take a bit each day and purge with the shredder. Then we will set up a filing system for current things. She is sooooo ready to get rid of any stuff she does not need to have. Oh…those old accountants like my dad. They saved and recorded every fart practically.

I also told Mom that the college will arrange for a substitute for me, so I do not need to go back to Columbia by a certain date. It was like the weight of the world was lifted. I told her I wanted to help her get organized and to make sure she can manage comfortably.
The sad thing is that she is having a difficult time in general “managing.” She will ask me several times what day it is. She showed me a pair of shoes and asked if they were mine. I said no. Then she assumed they must be hers. She goes upstairs to do one thing and gets lost looking through envelopes and drawers…easily distracted from one thing to another. She’s been saying she needs to get her eyes examined…so we agreed that today she would call for an appointment. Then she checked the calendar and has an appointment already set up in April. She’s been having people at the bank write checks for her to sign. She’s afraid of writing down the wrong amount or misspelling a word, especially numbers in word form. Lots of confusion about many, many things. I have major concerns about her ability to keep track of stuff. She’s managing for now…but with assistance.

She’s happy to have me do all the driving in my car. She’s my guide…although she has steered me down the wrong road a few times…..and apologized. So many things are becoming confusing for her…so I observe and make notations. First…we ease into Dad’s next location and see how she does with that. I have already shared with her my concerns about her forgetfulness, and she took it pretty well. Then she kids me when she finds stuff….”See! I’m not losing my mind all the time.” We laugh. Good to laugh now because I know that I will only see her decline bit by bit. So it’s one day at a time; enjoying our time together while we can. Her confusion is heartbreaking.

The good news is that we’re getting along like great pals…and what a gift that is.

About jjmummert

Just another voice in the wilderness from someone who's lived on this planet for over 60 years and faces permanent residency on Planet Elderly. Update: As of March 2, 2017, I turned 70. I'm now an official resident of Planet Elderly. Dad passed away September 22, 2016. I view the Parental Journal entries as part therapy, part family history, sort of a case study of what our family experiences with one parent in a memory care unit, another living independently with short-term memory loss, and me, the only child daughter who lives 400 miles away. It's quite an adventure. Recommended readings for others who have loved ones who live with some form of dementia: The 36-Hour Day, The Myth of Alzheimer's - What You Aren't Being Told About Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis, Alzheimer's Early Stages.
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