Sunday, July 20, 2014

Caring for an Elderly Dad is like Having a Teenager

I keep saying that I will be changing this blog over to strictly a shoe and fashion blog soon and I really want to... At the same time I wonder where I will tell all of my stories. I love this blog because over the last ten years it's given me a place to record all of my life's adventures. I've thought about printing my blog using the Blog2Print program so that I can have a record of it all just in case something were to happen to it. I need to do that...

Daddy, in his early 20s, around 1945

But back to where I will blog my stories.... I don't know. I have another blog that I used to blog at that I retired. I could bring that one back and use that one for strictly stories. Like the stories about my dad and caring for him.

I know I just blogged about sharing a house with him recently. Really there is so much I could say about this man and I could probably blog about him daily.  I love him and he drives me crazy all at the same time. We recently started a project together. I've been recording him saying a Dicho or a saying in Spanish every few days and then I post it on my YouTube channel. We started off pretty consistently then we slacked off. I think we're going to get back on a schedule now. He gets a kick out of doing that.

I am not going to lie. Since my dad moved in with me a year ago my life has completely changed. Having an elderly man like my dad live with me is like having a teenager and a third kid. It reminds me of the movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" except that my dad is aging in the right order but mentally he's returning to his youth. I say this because he's an adult man who has led a full life full of a lot of experiences, yet now that he's getting older he's forgetting the most simple things and getting confused easily.

For example, I have had the same cell phone number since 1998. He knows my number by heart and has always called me, even when he didn't live here. But a few weeks ago he completely forgot my phone number. He was supposed to call me to pick him up and he never did because he forgot the number. Yes, I got worried. I wrote my phone number on a small piece of paper and I taped it to the inside of his phone when he got home.

When my dad first moved in with me I felt comfortable giving him a lot of his freedom and I still do.  He'll walk the length of my street to the busy boulevard that runs through our neighborhood and he'll take the bus down to his favorite restaurant on his own. He comes home on his own too and lets himself into the house if I'm not home. If I'm home and I'm not working, or if I can take a break, I take him to his restaurant, but many times he prefers to go on his own and I respect his need for freedom.

Here lately I've been having to keep up with him a lot more and that's where it reminds me of having a teenager. He's old enough and knows enough to take the bus, but now I feel like I need to follow up more. If it's getting dark I call him and ask him where he's at so I can go pick him up. It is an added responsibility to the two young kids I already have.

Two days ago I got home from dinner with a friend fairly early. He was fiddling around the kitchen and I asked him if he had been home long. He replied that he'd been home but he was outside for a while. I asked why and he said it was because he couldn't get the door open. I asked him why and he said he didn't know why but he had eventually unlocked it. There is nothing wrong with our lock. He was just confused because he has a key to the dead bolt and he forgets if the key is for the dead bolt or for the door knob. I learned this recently and apparently even after all the explaining and reminding he still gets confused by the keys and the locks. This worries me...

Then he really freaked me out. He said that he had a scare. I was doing something at the kitchen counter and I turned to him, "What kind of scare??!" I asked.

He went on to tell me how when he got home and couldn't unlock the dead bolt he had decided to go sit on the sidewalk that runs next to my house (I'm on a corner lot.) and while he was sitting there a scrappy looking guy with a black eye came over to him and started talking to him. He asked him for money and my dad gave him a little bit of change that he had in his pocket. Then the guy started asking him if he could give him a glass of water. My dad told him no and the guy proceeded to ask him a couple of more times.

Thank goodness my dad is still alert enough to know that the guy was just trying to gain access into the house. I asked him if he realized that if the guy had gotten into the house with him God only knows what he was capable of doing. He could have beat him and robbed us or worse yet, killed him.

The experience was very scary! I asked him to please refrain from sitting out on the sidewalk next to the street. I have a very big yard, with lawn chairs in an enclosed back yard that is hidden from the street by the garage. There was no reason whatsoever for him to sit on the edge of the street so some bum could come by to harass him.

This also made me realize that I can't let him come home alone any more. I have to either go pick him up or I need to get home when he gets home to make sure he's inside and safe even if that means driving home and then going out again. It is extra work and it takes away even more of my freedom but if I don't do it I take the chance of him sitting out on the sidewalk or something worse.

So yes, it's more work and yes I worry. I especially worry when he forgets simple things because I know that it's leading up to more important things. This morning I woke up after him and found the water running in the bathroom sink for who knows how long while he sat in the kitchen taking a nap. It's not the first time that happens. I've come home and the water has been running.

Later this morning I smelled a real strong smell of bleach and I wasn't sure why. He told me he had just sprayed Shout on the collar of his shirt. I asked him where did he get the Shout bottle and he pointed at the bathroom. He had taken the  Clorox bathroom cleaner and he sprayed his shirt with that, instead of Shout. Even though we had both agreed that we would keep the bottle of Shout behind the hamper so he could spray his shirts with it like he had requested. But he had forgotten already and he grabbed the Clorox spray without even reading the bottle. Just like a kid would do.

He's 90 and I remember that every day. I remember that and I'm grateful that at 90 he can at least do all that he does. I don't have to bathe him. He can walk to the bus stop. He is still stronger than me and can help me change a tire. He can open a jar for me. How many 90 year olds can do that? Not many. I remember this as I read today that the actor James Garner died at 86. He was 4 years younger than my dad. I also remind my dad of this and that God has blessed him with this many years. It isn't something to take for granted either.

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