Over time I have shared with my friends the trials and tribulations of a mother with Alzheimers and a dad who is really too old and frail to be caring for her, but is giving it the old college try.
My life has pretty much been consumed with trying to care for them and ease dad's burden. It is clear to me that he cannot handle it any longer. I visited nursing homes and found one that I really liked. My first intent was to pick several and let dad chooose. However, at the last minute I decided to take him only to the one I felt was the best. So, about a month ago my mom's youngest sister came over to stay with her. Dad, my brother, Tom, and I visited Golden Living Nursing Home. My second visit there confirmed what I saw in my first visit - it was a place where they cared about the patients and treated them with respect, while having a little fun in the process. My dad was totally overwhelmed. He asked no questions, teared up several times, and just nodded. My brother seemed to like it and even stopped to visit one of the patients who happened to be a bus driver who used to work for him. We thanked Catherine, the head of the Alzheimers Unit, and left.
Dad said it was a nice place - much nicer than he had imagined it would be. My brother said the same thing. And I thought, "alright! now we are getting somewhere!"
Then things went south on me. Tom went into a tirade about how I was rushing them into things and that dad didn't have to do anything yet... that we would "step it up" and help him more. Now, frankly, I don't know how that is possible. My life revolves around their care at the moment. So Tom said he would take care of them, that I wouldn't have to do any more than I already am. Then he told dad that this isn't something he has to do and everything would be ok. I needed paperwork signed so the insurance company could get medical records from mom's doctors and get the process going. My dad and brother have power of attorney over mom. My brother refused to sign. Later that week I asked dad if he would sign and he did without question. Ok, one hurdle down.
Since that time dad has broken a bone in his hand. He's having trouble taking care of himself, much less mom. Mom's depends don't get changed until I happen to be at their house. Mom is not getting bathed unless I do it. Tom's wife volunteered for that duty but when mom says she doesn't want her to, rather than insisting, she lets it go. Bottom line is mom is not getting good care.
I finally confronted Tom during a phone conversation the other night. I didn't mean for it to be a confrontation, but it turned into that. I was frustrated and tired and told him he needed to give dad permission to let go. That I felt the only reason dad was holding on was because Tom was telling him he could. Well, that didn't set well with him at all. He then asked what I had done with the insurance papers he had refused to sign. He was even unhappier when I told him I had had dad sign them. Tom then told me that Kathleen (sis in Arizona) agreed with him and I told him I had talked to her and knew that was not true. Alright, lets just say he was pissed - but only at me, I guess because I was takinig action.
Tom's theory is that dad is going to be lost without mom. When I tried to explain that he will not have lost her, that he will be able to spend all day, every day with her, but go home to bed at night knowing that she is safe, he wouldn't listen. He woke me up at 5:30 the next morning, ready to yell at me some more. I listened to his tirade, asked if he was done, and then told him I had nothing more to say and hung up.
Mom's 85th birthday is this Sunday. I am having a small party for her - just my dad, brother Tom and his wife, and other brother, Tony (I should probably mention here that Tony is emotionally and mentally challenged and not part of the decision making process). It will be interesting to see if Tom and his wife even come.
Jim has been very supportive through all of this. And I refuse to get down in the dumps. Iggy's blog question about purpose in life hit home. We do all have a purpose in life but it changes daily. I wish I could get deeper than that and see the big picture, but I just can't.
I sure hope everyone is having a wonderful week and keep smiling folks. I am!