Elder Care and Parenting

How will you react when you are faced with decisions on elder care before you are ready to tackle them? A parent’s perspective on taking care of his elderly father.

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I’ve been writing over the past few weeks about Sandy and the after effects of this super storm on people. Sandy left me an unwanted gift and responsibility as well, I realized my elderly father was in need of an intervention as he was in poor shape physically and mentally. He is 84 years old and has lived alone for years.

My dad chose to hide his deteriorating condition from me and others. After being told by his caring neighbors as I picked him up during the power failure in his building and Spending 3 to 4 days with him while we were “power less”  revealed to me his true state of being. It was sad.  I did not expect to be thrust into the forefront as a primary caregiver for elder care so quickly. I always saw my father as the man who was so independent, strong, stoic and wanted to be alone and he would never need my help. Yet it was painfully obvious over the days I spent with him, he had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer take care of himself.

What I realized also was that I had ignored the danger signs because, of my selfish prejudices on what I thought of my father. I allowed my personal feelings to get in the way of responsibility and I guess this is the guilt speaking, but I’m sure many children who are thrust unwillingly into this role may feel the same way.

When life returned to some resemblance of normalcy I did what I had to gain control of his life. Even as he resented, my intrusion into his personal life, I had to gain control of his affairs. Every part of his personal life was a mess from where and how he lived to his mental state. A lesson to be learned here is that the few steps that I took to gain control of his financial and his medical life will now enable me to at least be able to take care of him on his terms.

I quickly realized how ill he was and took him to a doctor (which he had not done so for years!). The new doctor, quickly advised me to admit him to the local hospital via the emergency room. He’s been in the hospital for over 8 days now with his mental state in tatters with dementia and his physical state now being a shell of what I knew of him over the years.

A man who could balance his bankbook, penny to penny is now not able to walk, feed himself and has no idea why he is in the hospital. Of course his stubborn nature doesn’t help his outlook.. A man who was always independent now has to rely on everyone else to take care of him.. I can imagine how that feels.

I have empathy for my father, even as I was never really emotionally close to him and neither is he the most loving father anyone could have. I quickly realized all my old wounds had to heal quickly and my forgiveness and being able to go above and beyond as his son, was key to helping him. For me being helping him in his time of need, was never a priority and now my only priority is making him comfortable as his primary caregiver.

I do want to share with you with you a few thoughts for each of you to think about when what YOU must think about elder care.

  • If you have an elderly parent, YOU MUST have “The Talk” with your elder parents: This involves financial and medical power of attorney. I got lucky, only due to my instincts and my wife’s ability to push me to get things done.
  • Make sure you and your family is prepared to make one person the “in charge” of all financial and medical matters related to the elderly relative. If you can’t do this, split the responsibilities between family members. Everyone should contribute and support the individual (to keep him/her sane). In my case, my wife and kids have stepped up and given me the critical support during this difficult time.
  • Be prepared to dig into financial records that you had no clue that existed. I had to dig through mounds of paper at my dad’s house to figure out his finances. Shockingly, even with his ongoing dementia state, his finances were in perfect order!
  • Make sure you have full access to the medical history of your elderly parent. Without this, doctors will not even recognize you.
  • Make sure you have in writing, signed and notorized your elderly parent’s wishes in case of any final health care of end-of-life care decisions have to be made. There are many sites on the internet that allow you. I found this site and everyone should visit the site fivewishes and fill in/print out the forms that this site will create for you for FREE. If I knew of this site, I would have been in better shape than I am now. I am preparing my fivewishes ASAP and getting them witnessed and notorized. New Jersey is one state that accepts these five wishes as a legal document.
  • Talk to your parents. Keep the lines of communications open. Don’t allow them to be reclusive and isolate themselves. If I had paid more careful attention to my father’s deteriorating condition, I’m almost certain that we would not be in the situation we are currently in.
  • When your elderly parent needs care, make sure you balance your life with the need to take care of your parent. I’m finding that the more I dedicate to my dad’s care, the less I’m taking care of my emotional and physical health.
  • Keep things in perspective in a daily basis. As the days progress, treat each day as a new day and wish for the best. Each day will be different as I see with my dad in the hospital. There is no guarantees when it comes to an elderly person being in a hospital, and you have to take everyday as a “moment in time”.
  • Make sure you tell your employer of the work-life balance you are facing. Many employers today will be very considerate and give you plenty of leeway to do what yo u need to do.

I could ramble on and on beyond this point (which everyone who knows me, will agree that I’m very good at), but I think I’ve put on paper, my thoughts as I progress through the minefield that is known as elder care. I like to call it when a parent takes care of parent..

As I proceed down the path to taking care of my father, I now realize that every day is an adventure in to the abyss of the unknown. Yet I can peek into the abyss of darkness, if I prepare myself and do the research and use my natural given ability to dig into details. I guess old habits just follow you around..

I’ve linked some articles below on elder care, I

NJ: After the storms

Life in Monmouth County starts returning to normal, how are you doing?

After the past few weeks of storms that have hit NJ and the Jersey Coast where I live, it looks like we are in a period of tranquility for the next week or so.

Many people in NJ are still suffering from the Super storm Sandy and the nor’easter that followed a few days later gave a one-two punch. With Sandy, we were without power for 8 days, and just as we got power back in our house, within 24 hours, we again lost power after the Nor’easter!

Fortunately, we got back power within 24 hours after outage #2 an we were warm and toasty at hour home. Now that we are resuming our normal life, it’s time to reflect on some of the things I learned from this experience:

  • Get a Generator, if you live in an area where you lose power, invest in a generator, so you can reduce the “disruption” to your life. This is going to be my next investment, so when the next super storm hits NJ, and I lose power, my generator will keep my house warm and save me from throwing away hundreds and hundreds of dollars in food!
  • Have friends and/or relatives that are willing to be your escape strategy if you don’t have backup power (generator anyone?)
  • If you are determined to stick it out, make sure you have flashlights and firewood to keep your sanity when you are without electricity.
  • Have lot’s of warm clothes and layer your clothes, so even though you are freezing, you look cool in your multiple layers of clothes.
  • Make sure you have enough batteries, candles and lots of patience with your kids as they go crazy without their electronic toys that no longer can be charged!
  • Get an inverter for your car. You will be surprised how useful the inverter is when you have laptops and electronics that you HAVE to charge in your car!
  • Make sure you have enough gas in ALL your cars! If your area doesn’t have electricity, there is a high probability that you won’t be able to get gas for a while
  • Stock up on food that are not perishable. Evaporated milk will go a long way when you will be out power!
  • Plan, Plan and Plan for being without power for extended periods of time.
  • Make sure you have enough batteries and flashlights to last for a few days.
  • If your neighbors have generators, be nice to them and beg/plead so you can get a line from their generator to your house..

Even as I write this posting, there are hundreds of thousands of people in NY/NJ that are still without power. I truly pray that these people get their lives back and can get some normalcy in their lives.

The past few weeks have been humbling. What we took for granted, is indeed a commodity (Electricity). Don’t take this commodity lightly (no pun intended).

If you read this post and were impacted by the storms, I’d like to hear how you survived the past few weeks.

 

Hurricane Sandy: A week after

Sandy’s impact continues to be felt and Dad’s Taxi continues with his view on how’s he’s coping!

Map of New Jersey
Map of New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

So it’s almost a week after Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey. There are still almost a million people in NJ without power and many communities are devastated.

 

When I reflect on that, my situation at my home (no power) is trivial. Yes, we are living at relatives houses in other parts of New Jersey, but the sheer impact of Sandy is felt no matter where we are. Especially the gas situation.

 

Some highlights/low lights since my last posting:

 

  • As of yesterday the odd/even system of getting gas was implemented by Governor Christie. I commend him on doing this. I spent almost an hour on-line getting gas a few days ago. These kinds of lines reminded me of the lines I saw over 20 years ago when I used to live in NYC during the Oil embargo when Gas was less than $1 a gallon. Now we are paying over $3.50 a gallon and the sense of deja vu is back for me!
  • I realized my elderly father needs immediate attention as his mental faculties have deteriorated tremendously and I have to now take charge of his entire life. If Sandy had NOT come around, I would never have seen this, so from the bad came this good/bad news. I’ve spent the past few days getting organized on how to take care of my father who is in his mid 80’s and let me tell you this is an absolute attitude adjustment, for me. I’m thinking that I’ll spend the next few weeks posting some of the things I’ve done and hopefully this will enable some feedback and interaction with others that are or have gone through what I’m going through!
  • In times of need the people that reach out to you from all over the world shows that people do care. I’ve received so many emails on Facebook, Linked In, Text messages that I’m truly touched at the outpouring of affection from my friends and relatives.
  • Living with my various relatives has been such a joy.. These people have opened their hearts and homes to my family, and this is truly touching. This scenario is being played out in many families and I’m sure many will attest to this.

 

Good thing about today.. it’s Sunday and I have a TV to watch the games!

 

 

 

Franken-Storm Sandy Aftermath: New Jersey

Franken-storm Sandy has left NJ, but the aftermath is beyond words.. read on..

English: A cell phone tower in Palatine, Illin...
English: A cell phone tower in Palatine, Illinois, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It’s been a few days now since Hurricane Sandy came and went to the Jersey coast and to New Jersey in General. The devastation that this hurricane was at least 10 times what  Irene did to New Jersey about a year ago. 

 

Complete Communities destroyed, total chaos all across New Jersey. Some of the things I’ve seen and heard about over the radio (since I have not really seen ANY TV since the onslaught from Sandy).

 

  • Over 1 million people with NO POWER in NJ. This number has decreased over the past few days, but where I live in Middletown, NJ we have had no power and probably will have no power for 7 more days. Hopefully.
  • Trees up-rooted all over and many trees hanging precariously across power lines. In Middletown, I actually went UNDER a tree that is hanging onto a power line. Yes.. I know that is dangerous, but I really didn’t have much have a choice.stupidity overrode logic in this case.
  • Oddities that can can only be seen to be believed. In the picture below,  an elderly neighbor of mine and his wife are blowing/raking leaves as Sandy leaves.. BTW, he was doing the same thing as Sandy hit MT.. he was out blowing leaves from his driveway!

 

Image

 

  • Marina’s flooded out, with boats lifted off their docks (with their docks) and relocated to unnatural places.

 

Image

 

  • NO GAS anywhere, and wherever there was gas, huge lines (up to 4 hours). And at these stations, two separate lines.. people in their cars waiting to fill up and people on fill up the “Little Red Containers” for their generators.

 

Images

 

  • My network of choice (and I won’t name the service provider for my cell phone service.. Not Verizon), has had NO CELL phone coverage in Middletown. When we bailed out of Middletown, this morning, I still had NO 3G and/or 4G service for my cell phone in Middletown, NJ.
  • The communications by Middletown Township was outstanding, cell phone text, emails, phone calls to talk about recovery progress. Outstanding.. is the best way to talk about this. Of course I didn’t get much of this as my cell service had “NO SERVICE”.

 

Words cannot describe the wrath and the results of Sandy. Every community, stretching from Cape May county to Northern New Jersey was not spared. Many board walks and beach towns washed out, thousands of people displaced  from their homes, Life long memories destroyed in floods and fires.

 

Where I live in Middletown, NJ, we were in the direct path of the eye of the storm. Fortunately, our house was spared damage with a minimal of falling branches and no loss of property as such.

 

Over 1 million people are still without power right now in NJ. FEMA and all the agencies are doing an amazing job to get us back on-line (literally).

 

Even as I sit here at my relatives house in Somerset County, NJ, the hurricane’s impact is felt. No Cable TV!

 

This hurricane has bought out the best and worst in people. Price gouging (for Generators), and people on gas lines getting into fist fights and tempers flaring..

 

My office has been closed all week and many networks are down in many corporations. So this week is a forced vacation on many people..

 

If you are in NJ and see this post, what have you seen? I’d really like to hear from you on how you survived the “Franken-Storm Sandy”.

 

I applaud the Governor of NJ and the President in their actions before/during/and after Sandy. This was an example of all branches of the federal and state government working together for the good of the people. S

 

So what’s your Sandy Story? I’m all ears..

 

I wish everyone a speedy return to normalcy in you respective lives..

 

We only have a few more months till the end of times according to the Mayan Calendar.. Is this the start?