When you are suddenly thrust in to a role as care giver for an elderly parent, your life is turned upside down. Here’s my story..
Over the past 6 weeks after Super Storm Sandy, it would be an understatement to say that my life has spiraled into a life of daily chaos and additional stress. With my elderly father’s ongoing battle with his health and his mental faculties being so impaired, let’s just say.. “the hits keep coming”.
I’ve decided selfishlessley that this blog will be my outlet for all the frustrations I’m currently facing. As many of my readers know that I usually laugh at most of the things that happen around me.. Now I’m laughing (or crying) at the things that happen TO ME directly.
It’s like the heavens have opened up and blessed me with multiple challenges and decisions that I need to make on the fly.. I hate making decisions on the fly.. I’m into organization and planned decisions. If you look up the definition of what the personal traits of a Saggitarian you would see my traits. We don’t like surprises and are quite inflexible when it comes to surprises. I’m one of those classic Saggitatians. We want the world to be perfect (as we are) and get bent out of shape when the the world does not live up to our expectations. That’s me in a nutshell. I’m sure my family and friends would agree on this statementYet I also know that that’s all in a perfect world, and I live in the most imperfect of worlds.
After Superstorm Sandy, I realized that my elderly father was in need of medical help and as the “good son” and only son in NJ, I’d have to take the burden of caring for my father. Let me start of by saying that my relationship with my father has never been (to put it mildly) a relationship based on mutual love and respect. Yet the one gift that my father did give me over the past 10 years is the gift of raising my family without his distractions and worrying about his welfare. Pretty selfish statement, but in reality, he gifted this to both me and my sibling who happens to live in Texas.. Yes I’ve written about my visits to Texas!
My dad was admitted to the hospital about 6 weeks ago in a state of anemia, pneumonia and a state of dementia. Of course all conditions developed over time (especially the dementia), but because my dad was living alone, he was able to hide these symptoms from me for a few years.
Over the past 6 weeks, it’s been trips to the hospital (daily) and rehab (where he currently is) and planning on HIS future after rehab. At the same time, of course my daily chaos with my home life is (as Barney says on “Big Bang Theory” —> LEGENDARY). ongoing.
How I’ve managed to maintain my sanity, I really don’t know, I guess being numb during chaos and just reacting is a great way to maintain your sanity. The future looks bleak for my father as he will need 24×7 care after he leaves rehab and our great medical system “draws down all his finances, so Medicaid can take over”. He will never regain his independence and will never be able to constantly remind me that my inheritance (now none) is what he will leave for me.
As luck would have it, my employer has been totally understanding of the choas in my life and has been unconditionally supportive and allowed me take time off to address my dad’s illness. I do not know what I would have done, if this was not the case
My brother came to NJ from Texas for a week and we researched and educated ourselves on the assisted living and nursing homes. We quickly realized that the our current situation with our father was payment for being allowed to raise our families in peace over the past 10 years without having major home issues because of the possible influence of our father in our life.
I walk around in a state of total exhaustion both mentally and physically as I now realize that every day puts forward a new challenge on my ability to reason with the events that are going around me. Sound pretty pathetic, but when I say the “hits keep coming”, that is the truth.
- Super Storm Sandy and loss of Power
- Elder care and illness of parent daily issues
- Work related stress
- Tennis injuries (don’t get me started with this one)
- Car Repairs (I guess you really do need brakes to stop a car)
- Holiday cheer (I’d call it more holiday depression)
- Differences, benefits of Medicare and Medicaid
- Self forgiveness and letting go of the guilt.
- Putting things in perspective.
Yet the whole experience over the past 2 months has been humbling. To see a man who all his life was a miser and self-centered, become totally dependent on others for his daily care. He’s actually mellowed out in his “state of confusion” to where we get along better now then we have ever gotten along when he was NOT in his delusional state. Each day, I spend time with him and realize that his ongoing battles with sanity have enable me to forgive him as well as myself for our inability to have a good relationship.
I see myself through his eyes and in his wheelchair in another 20 or 30 years I see myself struggling to maintain cohesiveness and losing my freedom and become dependent on others to take care of me. If these thoughts are not humbling, I really don’t know what is.
I’ve now learned to take each day “one day at a time” and instead of feeling sorry for myself, just accept the situation and deal with it in my unique way.. Using sarcasm, humor and plain self understanding is the way to come out of this unscathed.
I’ve become educated about:
- Elder care and its financial impacts on families.
- What it takes to take full health and financial responsibility for another human being who cannot take care of himself. Specifically the legalities of the healthcare system in our country
- What the words “draw down the assets mean”.
- Showing empathy when in reality, you are struggling with your internal strife and emotions.
- Being able to adjust to change, when inherently your nature precludes change.
- Finding outlets for the stress that are both healthy and self-contained.
- How to become organized and make decisions that are outside your comfort zone.
- How expensive elder care is in this country for those with assets.
- How important it is to have a healthcare directive and a Power of Attorney (POA)!
- what’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
I could go on and on.. but you can see that the past 2 months have been so difficult that my senses have become numb that the only way to I can adjust to my “New reality of my life” is to write about it..