Two Fridays ago , my mom (who is 82) was scheduled to have day surgery for a hip replacement, basically a 24 hour in and out and then therapy. As I’ve documented my dad (who is 94) has early dementia, we had to prepare him for a night without her. He’s been very good lately, remembering her , and not having many off times. He’s been with it for over a month. My sister came for the night and then quickly dropped him off at my house on Saturday. Literally dropped off his stuff and ran.
Later Saturday we heard that my mom had some complications and was staying another night in the hospital. It was easy to convince my dad to stay. The first 2 days he was ok but on the 3rd day he was slipping. I honestly had one of the worst days I could have ever imagined. Caring for someone with dementia is so heartbreaking, I honestly don’t think I’m made to do this.
Waking up on Monday morning, he honestly didn’t know who I was, although I told him multiple times. The same stories over and over , he thinks there are 2 of everyone for some reason , not sure where that is coming from nor would I even start to understand what’s going on his mind. We did mange to have a real conversation where I figured out when this all started. The last real memories are right around the time of Covid lockdown. That’s the last time he says he says he saw his real wife and he’s left alone. I explained she never left and that she’s in the hospital waiting to come home . He had tears in his eyes as he said that’s where she is and he misses her and thought she left him alone. I had to remind him he’s never alone and that we are here with him but he doesn’t always remember because something happened to him . He totally agreed and said he knows something is off. I almost broke down right there . I believe he might have had a stroke or just the idea of being isolated was not the best idea for him. He’s scheduled for more tests but they are harder to get at this time of Covid and he doesn’t want to go to the hospital for any tests – he’s convinced that he’ll never leave there.
His memory had been in and out that day , better than the day before. And with covid rules in place we can’t visit my mom so he can see for himself that she’s ok. The only good thing is that she is getting therapy and doing her exercises everyday at the hospital and they are looking after her. He had a great talk with her before bed and it really made him happy. He was smiling and he told her he thought she left , then he said I guess I don’t remember as much as I used to.
We were on day 4 without my mom a that day is a very good, he woke up and knew where he was and who I was . He asked if my mom would be released today , I said if she isn’t dizzy anymore than hopefully. He talked about her all morning, we called her so he could hear her voice and chat. He understood that she was being cared for at the hospital. Took him to his house for familiarity, they finally called and we picked her up. When she finally got into the car , he was so happy to see her and told her again how he thought she left him. I brought them back to our house so I could help my mom out. The days were long for her, and moving didn’t come easy but slowly day by day, she regained her stamina and was able to move to a cane and ditch the walker. The stairs would be the next challenge but because we have a bungalow, we didn’t practice this daily. Being around the entire family for a week and having the responsibility of helping to care for my mom, my dad seems happy and fewer lapses in memory. He has to focus on someone other than himself and so far seems pretty good. Last night they both wanted to go back to their own house and try to see if they can manage. I spent the night yesterday, helped get my mom to bed and helped her up the stairs. This morning helped her get ready and back down the stairs. She kicked me out and said that they need time to figure out how they will do. I’ll go back later this afternoon , bring them back to my place for dinner and a shower.
It’s been an exhausting week I won’t lie, having to care for elderly parents is much more difficult than it seems. There have been a few day where I just can’t be pulled in another direction and just hide to cry. I’m blessed that my parents have been so independent up until now, they value their independence and would never ask for help. They have done so much for me over the years that I can’t even fathom the idea of not helping them when they need it, unlike my sister who in my opinion couldn’t care less. Oh well that’s who she has become and she has to come to terms with herself and her actions.