Changing The Guard: Caretaking Your Parents

“Maybe Now You Will Call Me Fritz”

Visiting Nurses Association, the early years

Visiting Nurses Association, the early years

Tara, Dad’s nurse,  was sent to Dad by his Doctor’s Making House Calls doc.

She was a God send.  Dad, didn’t think it was necessary 21 months ago, but went along.  He was sick then so at first she came daily, then three times, then two and one a week.  She takes his vitals, fills his pills boxes and then calls in meds and reports to the doctor.

That’s on the surface.  She has become a friend and a highlight of Dad’s week.  She has said that she loves him almost as much as her own grandpa.  The tears she shed on her last day here shows that that is true.

Dad has always encouraged her to call him Fritz, but she has explained why she can’t call him anything but Mr Arrowsmith.  It actually has more to do with her having been raised in Alabama.

The third to last time, Queen, the certified aid we hired to come three times a day, five days a week, had just given him a plate of homemade food, and watching him eat with such zest made Tara cry.  Then Dad and I got teary. Queen got teary.  Dad broke the tear fest by saying, “Maybe now you will call me Fritz”.  We all laughed, even though Dad was serious.  She should call him Fritz.

We had it down.  Tara would leave me messages about what meds to pick up, I would get them.  I would tell her about concerns, although I didn’t have to do that much, because she was really on top of it.  In fact, Dad would tell her things about his condition that he didn’t tell me.

I was, of course, ambivalent about that.  In the first place he wouldn’t have told me even if she wasn’t in the picture.  But it was nice to have someone else dealing with this.  I also felt left out, a little jealous of her relationship with them.  Human beings are nothing if not complex.

When the medical team decided that he needed to be in assisted living, no, to be fair, thought Dad wanted that, suddenly Tara seemed threatening to me.  She wasn’t, she was advocating for him.  He didn’t want to be a burden to me AND he couldn’t think of other possibilities.   I felt threatened, there was some sibling rivalry to make it even more complex.   It was getting messy.

But Tara managed to shake me out of the daze that I had been in when I didn’t want to see that he was getting more frail and more open to help.  It took a few weeks, some hard feelings probably all on my part.  But my complacency was shaken and my mind got to working.  I thought of all the ways he could stay home, Tara got that moving and here we are with a great nurse who comes in 3 times a day and some new equipment.  BTW, it turns out that Dad asked for the hospital bed before he decided he didn’t like it.  We are still working on that one.

But I was right about one thing.  He would be miserable in Assisted Living and only wanted to be there because he thought it would be better for me.  Dad doesn’t like old people.

Oh, and Tara, please call him Fritz now.

Times Have Changed

Times Have Changed

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July 25, 2009 Posted by | Blessings, The Cast of Characters | Leave a comment

Well, Should I Be In Charge?

The cast of characters is changing.  For a long time Dad has had a weekly nurse who comes to the house weekly, his and my friend Rose, who takes him out at least weekly, and me, with an occasional therapist or doctor.  Really easy to keep track of.

Then Tara his nurse decided that he needed to be with someone all day, or go to assited living.  My brother and I looked into assisted living a few years back when Mom was alive and Dad might have been too sick to care for her.   They didn’t need it, but I found out enough about it to know the dark side,  (Assited Living, An Option) and I know Dad wouldn’t like it for many reasons.   It was the first time Tara and I came to ‘blows’.  I found Barbara, who was nice, worked hard (great at kitchen cleaning!) but was inexperienced and didn’t want to give him a bath.  Besides Dad wasn’t comfortable having someone here all day and when I had time at home, I didn’t really like it either.

Queen had recently been sent over two days a week to bath him, because being in the shower wasn’t safe.  Dad really liked her, so we arranged to have her come three times a day to check in on him, and cook meals.  Well, that works well, except that she isn’t a very good cook and doesn’t clean much.

I got home today with a note fom Tara.  She is having someone come to interview with Dad on Friday.  It seems that she and the therapist were both here in the am, Dad was alone and they though he was shaking on his feet.  If Dad is interviewing why did she write me.  Well, I know why.  But did she mean to make me out to be a bad daughter like I feel I am when I get such notes.

When I got the first woman so quickly I marveled at my good luck.  Then when Queen came on I was still very happy.  However, I guess it just isn’t going to be all that easy.

July 8, 2009 Posted by | The Cast of Characters | , , , | Leave a comment

Dad Through the Years.

I am a very lucky person as my Dad is really very easy to get along with.  Its a pleasure to do for him.  He does as much as he can but sometimes that is a problem.  “Dad its easier for me to do your laundry than worry about you failing”.  People love him, although if there are too many people he doesn’t talk.

Heck, I just wanted to show you a couple of pictures.

Some people thought Dad looked like Errol Flynn

Some people thought Dad looked like Errol Flynn

At age 89 he became a great grand father

At age 89 he became a great grand father to Nico

July 1, 2009 Posted by | The Cast of Characters | , | Leave a comment