Parental Journal 09 from Planet Elderly: Gradually Adjusting to a New Chapter

Sunday, April 12, 2015 6:30 a.m.

Very calm day yesterday. We had a nice visit with Dad and Mom didn’t cry much. At one point yesterday she asked me, “Do you think Dad is ever coming home?” I told her I thought he would continue to decline mentally over time and that other than a miracle occurring, no, I didn’t think he would come home. She said thought the same thing. “Yes,” I replied. “Now it’s sort of like getting used to a new chapter in your life…being here without him, but knowing you can visit him and that he is safe and cared for.” She nodded her head.

Today Mom does a solo trip to see Dad. She paid close attention to how we drove there yesterday and we wrote down directions, which I typed in large print later. Kind of a big day for her. I know she’s a bit anxious.

10:45 a.m.
Mom called from Victory Lakes to say they are taking Dad to the hospital…Condell. They are concerned about his breathing. She’ll go over to the hospital and said she knows the way home.

5:00 p.m.
I drove over to Victory Lakes and then Mom and I drove to Condell’s ER. X-ray and tests were done. All his vitals were fine. His primary care doctor was contacted and ordered an extra dose of a medication to reduce the swelling. Then he was to be brought back to Victory Lakes. So we drove back to Victory Lakes ahead of Dad, organized his clothes, and then went home. We had a bit of wine while dinner cooked. Mom doesn’t sip hers. She approaches wine like most of us approach orange juice.

Looks like, as my cousin suggested, Dad will be one of those elderly who goes back and forth from long-term care facility to ER. I doubt that the prescribed extra meds to reduce swelling will help in the long run. With his labored breathing and drowsiness, he looked like he was ready to transition…but the vital signs were fine and he’s probably enjoying some dinner as I type this. We’ll see him tomorrow.

Mom did fine driving to and from the facility, and she gave pretty good directions when we had to go over to the ER at Condell. She’s been there several times before.

I could actually fall asleep right now, but will try to stay awake until 10.

My sweet fella, Steve, is dealing with his own parental situation. His dad just turned 99 and is suddenly having some health issues. Steve will travel to western Illinois Tues. to consult with his sister-in-law, brother, and cousin. The sister-in-law and cousin have both been assisting his dad.

Mon. April 13, 2015

Dad is doing fine. Had a large breakfast, and when we visited today, he had a large lunch. He’s down 3 lbs. due to the extra dose of diuretic he was given yesterday. That’s fine, but the edema will likely return with his current health issues.

Early a.m. – Mom fussing about bank books again; confused. Mad at Dad because he did not get her a card or take her out to lunch for their anniversary or for holidays. She’s convinced he could have, which convinces me that she’s been in denial for a very long time about his decline. She just thought he was being stubborn.

I called the lawyer and left a message inquiring about progress in getting some paperwork we requested. I called at 9:05 a.m. It’s 3 p.m. No response. I will call every morning until it gets done.

Beautiful afternoon…time for a walk.

Tues. April 14, 2015

I called the lawyer again this morning. Was told she would call me back. As of 6:14 p.m. she has not returned my call. Will call again tomorrow.

Dad had a drippy nose and a low fever. Nurse said she gave him some Tylenol. His swelling has gone down. He ate a good breakfast and lunch…alert prior to lunch. Sleepy after lunch.

We’re now on the month-by-month schedule in terms of paying for the long-term care.

We made some progress with banking. Just two banks to deal with and I am on all accounts in case I need to more directly assist. We need to search for keys for the safety deposit boxes. I brought one with me because I was given a key a few years ago. Gave it to Mom the day I arrived. She has misplaced it. Often she denies me giving it to her. She also claims she never bought the shredded cheddar cheese in the refrigerator.

Mom received a call from the library saying she has an appointment tomorrow at 11:30 for “primary taxes.” She was all worked up about that and I was curious. I called the library back and they confirmed that she has an appointment tomorrow with the AARP person to help her with taxes. BUT…she told me two months ago that she went to the library to have the taxes done, and she recently received federal and state refunds. Of course, the paperwork is nowhere to be found. We’ll have to hunt around for it. Next year I want to be with her when she files her taxes. Most likely she made a second appointment because she saw “taxes” written on her calendar for April 15 and she probably forgot she had them done …so she made another appointment.

Keeping track of things she’s not used to keeping track of is extremely challenging for her. So far, she’s doing okay with her wallet, car and house keys, general household products she uses, and most food items.

We’re both sleeping better. At least we’re not up walking around at 2 or 3 a.m. lately. Better enjoy it. Plenty of nights ahead with sleep problems, no doubt.

Last night we saw the movie “The Notebook” on TV. It was very sweet. Halfway through I realized I had seen it before.

Daily Routine
Coffee, news, and visiting in the early a.m.
Breakfast
Leave around 10 a.m. to see Dad and stay with him through lunch.
Home about 1:30 p.m.
Errands if needed
Early dinner
TV or reading time…sometimes chat time…occasionally we do some purging or searching for stuff.
We pass garden centers when we drive around here and there, and my soul aches to be outside gardening. I truly miss the spring gardening activities.

Wed. April 15, 2015  5p.m.

Dad continues to eat well and was quite alert today. We got a few smiles from him and he returned my Mom’s kiss.

Mom and I met my cousin and her husband for a mid-day meal. Mom appreciated seeing them. I did, too. Looking forward to future visits when we can just chat as cousins. Today we just did a lot of general chat because Mom joined us. Mom and I went for a walk when we got back.

I plan to say home tomorrow and Mom will do a solo visit. Weather should be good for driving. We are in a general routine and things are much calmer than when I first arrived, but I naturally feel tied down and miss my life in Missouri. I hope things stay stable so that I can go back to mid-Mo for a few weeks after Mother’s Day.

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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