Nut graf: Respite means I should be resting, but …
Dad got sick about a week ago and had to go to the hospital, and he’s now in skilled nursing. At least he’s in the hands of professionals and I get a break, right?
It ain’t necessarily so.
I visit every day, about two or three hours. Just hanging out. He’ll sleep through some of it, and I get to see him get real restless when he’s up. He wants to escape, and he has asked me if the car’s outside. True fact. He gets the separation anxiety when I leave, so I usually wait until he falls asleep or make a show of handing him off to one of the professionals. Kind of like changing of the guard.
Meanwhile, I’m getting some rest. Need it.
Doing things around the house. Packed up Mom’s old cookware and loaded it in the garage (still wondering why a person who didn’t cook have a dozen measuring cups).
A little bit more running around.
Catching up on my reading.
Even treated myself to a pizza.
Things like that. Plus I have enough personal irons in the fire; a few projects that I’m working on.
So why am I bored silly?
Breaks in a routine do that to me. I never did vacations well when I was in the work force. After about three-four days I’m ready to go back to the salt mine. Just part of my nature.
I guess this means the caregiving thing has pretty much taken over my life.
Talk to me:Does unscheduled respite disrupt things for you? How do you handle it?
Nut graf: A flu bug can create all kinds of havoc for the caregiver. Be prepared for when it happens, because it probably will.
Dad had a real rough week. Couldn’t walk, couldn’t straighten himself up in a chair, couldn’t do much of anything.
His cognition, not real strong at this point in life, also took a hike.
A heavy cold or flu will do that every time.
For a day or so, he retired to his bed. Had me worried, of course. He keeps his own hours, but this time they were all over the map. Up at 4 a.m., sleeping until early afternoon, all that fun stuff that did a number on my own schedule.
Then he retired to his room. Didn’t emerge all day. I went in to check on him, and he was reclining on the head. Not a bad idea ’cause he needed to go there sometimes, but it’s still not the most comfortable seat in the house. Later I saw him sleeping on the bathroom floor.
Finally got him up and into his bedroom chair, which is sort of a way station when he’s feeling lousy. A few minutes after I got him there, he asked me if it was dark outside. He wanted to take a walk around the block.
“You might want to get your pants on first,” I said.
Moved a TV tray in his room for him to eat off of, and a portable latrine so he wouldn’t get that far. I didn’t want to use that, because Mom used it and it has some memories attached to it.
Dug up my own tools, too:
My gait belt for hauling him around. I had to find that, which is easier when it’s not an emergency. Anyway, it’s now close by.
My back brace. I told him it’s not for him. It’s for me.
I usually sleep in my “cabin,” a converted patio by the house. All the comforts of home, including my recliner, laptop, and library. But when he’s like this, I have to constantly monitor him. Like all the time. So last night I closed the cabin down and slept in the spare bedroom next door to his. More weird feelings. That was Mom’s room, in fact she died there two years ago. About 40 years earlier, it was my room. Last night was the first I’d slept there in all that time, and that was weird.
This morning he’s feeling better. Sitting up in his chair, eating breakfast from his TV tray. His cognition is still shot.
“I just closed out the year,” he told me. I think that was a leftover from when he owned a liquor store, and it was a paperwork thing. It took him a few minutes to get that sentence out.
“You did?” I asked.
“I just closed out the year.”
“Good,” I told him. “I hate leftover stuff hanging around.”
Fake it, man. Fake it.
Scary stuff, but it’s the flu. Just routine seasonal stuff, right?
Except at that age you’re kind of fragile and it’ll really nail you. If your cognition is hanging by a thread, a good working dose of the flu will snip that thread.
He’ll be okay in a day or two. A little stronger. Made it to the bed by himself (he said). I know he was able to straighten himself in his chair by himself.
But here’s the thing: All that from the flu.
My joke is that the flu is like the Mummy’s Curse. The only way to get rid of it is to give it to somebody else.
Gee, Dad. Thanks a pantload.
Talk to me:How does your loved one handle a flu bug? Since it’ll probably affect you, how do you handle it?
For obvious reasons Dad doesn’t operate heavy equipment much any more, but he still uses the microwave. A lot. Somebody has to because I seldom use it. But he’ll put his breakfast muffin in the microwave and nuke it, and he does it without too much chaos, blood, or screaming.
Ours is fairly automatic. Just need to hit two buttons – Sensor Defrost and the start button – and hey presto, there’s his breakfast.
Honestly, I get nervous thinking about it. So far he hasn’t put something like his fork in there. But so far, no problem. But as long as he can work that microwave safely, I’m not gonna take that away from him.
From Senior Care Corner, there’s an article on microwave safety. Some of it’s pretty obvious – use microwave-safe dishes, don’t heat your water too hot, inspect the oven every so often, and stand back in case your food explodes.
Here are some more links from the world of caregiving:
From MMlearn.org, a training site, there are some tips for dealing with cold weather. If the caregiver’s freezing, you can bet the care recipient is. While I don’t have to worry about all of this in sunny California, this general list gives me some things to consider. Stock up on consumibles (done). Keep your senior warm (blankets and heaters, anyone?). Make sure transportation needs are met (duh). And plan on what to do if the power bonks out (oops). Senior Care Corner has a more specific list on what to do, including advance planning.
The Alzheimers Site has a quiz for you to find out how much you really know about Alzheimers. I didn’t take the quiz myself because I despise online slideshows and it’s too closely linked to Facebook, but you might find it fun or useful.
That’s all I could think of. Y’all have a good week, and stay frosty. If frosty is the word I want.
We need all the resources we can get, and the Internet is full of helpful (and not so helpful) articles. Here are a few I grabbed from my weekly reading.
[8 Common Struggles of Late-Stage Alzheimer’s, And How To Help)(http://blog.thealzheimerssite.com/late-stage/): I don’t like talking about this, and it’s probably denial talking. For me, it’s a tremor Dad has somehow picked up. Don’t think it’s Parkinson’s, but it bears watching. Some of these, though, aren’t necessarily signs of late stage Alzheimers. Number One, trouble staying mobile, is one. To my knowledge, mobility can be an issue at any time. Still worth a read. (From The Alzheimers Site)
In With the New …: I know. As I write this, many New Years resolutions are already forgotten. This article suggests finding one thing the caregiver can get rid of, and one thing he can acquire. It may be a habit. This article has a lot of New Age feelgood ooo-eee-ooo in it, but I like the general concept. (From Caregiving.com)
Talk to me:If you find any articles yourself, please share in the comments. Be warned, though. Spam articles and clickbait will be weeded out with extreme prejudice, and the sender just might find himself blocked.