Another reason why I've hesitated writing this post is I don't want you to think it is a "woe is me" post. I have always been the glass is half FULL person, always look for the positive in something, keep moving forward and learn from the experience. I do, however, want to share personal things because life isn't always about sewing, crafting and pretty decorations. We need to see or read that someone is going through similar experiences, because it may help...even in the tiniest of ways.
I know people are going through things in life that are much more difficult than we are right now, but none the less, it's changed our family once again and sharing things with you may help us both. As many of you know from past blog posts, my father has lived with us for over 11 years. We've been through just about everything you can think of...literally everything (from the passing of my mom, floods, fire, to good times and bad times etc), but once again "life" has hit the fan. My dad is 91 years old and his health is getting the best of him. He can't walk much any more due to a fall, has a choking and aspiration problem, seeing, hearing and his dementia is off and on.
We've had to move the furniture on his side of the house, so it's easier for him to move from room to room, we changed how he eats, how he sleeps (hospital bed now), we took away his car keys, shut off his internet access and pulled the breaker switch on his stove. We are in charge of giving him his medications, he needs help with personal care, health care professional are in and out of the house on a daily basis while I'm at work...and the list goes go.
He was a career military officer and teacher, so you can imagine the fight for power when he is with it mentally, especially when it's his 2 "daughters" telling him what to do. I'm the youngest of 5 children, so even worse that I'm the baby. The emotions run the gamut...frustration, anger, aggravation, pity, sadness etc. One minute he's with it and you're angry with him because he refuses to put thickener in his drink, so he won't aspirate liquids into his lungs and the next minute you feel pity for him, because he's trying to use the T.V. remote on the refrigerator and wondering why the channels aren't changing on the ice maker.
Needless to say, the stress level at our house on some days is to the moon and back. My husband is my rock. His love and strength through this never waivers and I love him to death. My family...Courtney, Kelsie, Courtland and Nick keep me busy, laughing and happy inside and out...and they don't even know they're doing it! My sister is my partner in crime. She is always there for me and for my dad no matter what. If she and I didn't laugh together, we would cry for sure. We laugh so hard sometimes at all the crazy things that can happen in one day, I really should wear a Poise pad. Lol
I really try to look for the positive in each day, just to keep my sanity and this saying says it all!!
For the past month, we've moved a house full of his stuff to the storage room, paper work beyond comprehension, visiting nurses, long term care preparation, doctors appointments, hospice etc. We've learned a lot and the learning never ends.
Here are some quick bullet points that I want to share with you as "food for thought". Just a quick read even if you are not taking care of an elderly parent, relative or friend...we will all be in this situation ourselves one day.
Food For Thought for yourself or a loved one...
- Living Will and Advanced Directives...make your wishes known legally, especially DNR (Do Not Resuscitate (here's a link I found for a quick definition).
- Power of Attorney for health and Power of Attorney for financial matters. In our family my sister and I have POA for his health and my brothers have POA for his finances. These are a must. You will not have any legal rights to call for information from doctors, hospital or banks to make any decisions on your loved ones behalf without it.
- Write a will for your possessions.
- speaking of possessions...I am slowly but surely cleaning out my life of "stuff". I WILL NOT let this happen to my kids. I don't want them packing up boxes and boxes of junk in my attic or basement. Usually when things happen to elderly parents, the children are dealing with the important medical issues at that time and shouldn't be dealing with a house full of things. I have officially sworn off buying things from thrift stores for myself (I still buy for everyone else though). lol
- Read the fine print for everything. My dad purchased long term care insurance years and years ago on his own. A hundred thousand dollars later and it's taking an act of God to get it activated. Not to mention he has to pay out of pocket for home care for the first 60 days before the insurance starts to pay. READ THE FINE PRINT.
- Make your funeral wishes known. Think about purchasing a plot or crematorium. Put away money for funeral costs. When the time is closer, some funeral homes let you pay in advance or pre-pay the total.
- My parents sold their home and moved in with us, so that was not an issue, but you have to think about the elderly who still own their homes and what happens to that home if they go into a nursing home. Consult with a lawyer for further info, because every state is different and every situation is different whether that home is an asset to pay for nursing home care.
I know there is never an easy time to talk about or do these things, but I at least think about it and have it on your radar.
To end on a funny note...going through all this has certainly been an adventure much like a roller coaster, but mine is double the FUN having menopause along for the ride. Lol
Here are a few funnies to make you laugh...
Thanks for listening,