Trial Run

     Four and a half years ago, Andy and I made a decision that has greatly affected our lives in ways we weren’t prepared for. We bought a property with an in-law quarters so that his parents could move in. At the time, the decision was made because his mother was having some mobility issues. That has resolved. But, in the meantime, his dad’s Parkinson’s Disease has taken hold and crippled him and is beginning to suffocate those around him.

Over a month ago, Andy’s dad was admitted to the hospital with severe dehydration. He had been sick for weeks and neither he nor his wife were taking care of it.  They are fiercely independent and wouldn’t seek medical care for what they thought was a minor illness. He became sicker while hospitalized and then transferred to a skilled care facility for rehabilitation.  The goal of rehab is to get him home again. 

During his absence, we have begun to learn more and more about Andy’s parents.  The facade they have constructed during 60 years of marriage is crumbling and the picture isn’t so pretty anymore. So much energy has been spent on doing the “right” things in public and being the “right” person and not enough energy spent on developing relationships or being at all real.  There seems to be no one around them except us.  Even their church has no idea what their real struggles are and there are no friends in the congregation at all.  The pastor shows up on occasion to visit at the nursing home, but that’s it.

Today the therapist from the nursing home is coming here to see the apartment.  Andy’s dad will be here too to try and show her how well he can care for himself at home. Hopefully it involves a walker and a wheelchair. It’s his trial run. I’m sure he’ll put on a great show; I’m not sure she’ll get the real picture.

We’re frustrated and irritated and sometimes angry.  We’re sad and confused and often stressed out. We are at a loss for what to do; what would truly be the best thing to do.  We know they need more physical on-site care.  We also know they won’t allow that yet from anyone outside.  So, that leaves us to either drop everything and be here or just go about our lives and watch them struggle with their day because they’re too proud or independent to ask for help. Much of his physical care falls on Andy’s mom.  She can’t handle it.  She doesn’t want to handle it and she’s made that very clear to her kids but she won’t tell her husband that. So, instead, she does whatever he wants at her own risk. 

I struggle with being home for them more. It wouldn’t hurt my kids either if I was here more than at work.  But, we’d be financially incapable of maintaining our property or anything else.  So, that’s not a choice.  Andy has even considered quitting his job to be here; that’s not a viable option either.

So…we’ll see how today’s trial goes. Then we’ll know more about what will happen in the near future.  The only thing for sure is that it just won’t be easy. For anyone.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Loba
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 16:42:27

    Sometimes, the best thing to do is absolute honesty. Maybe a bit sugarcoated and sweet-talked in case of the elderly but they still deserve to know the truth.

    My mother has parkinson’s and I recently moved out but will move back in with her again soon due to her condition. I know how it is but I hope that everyone feels blessed that at least they’re together and not alone. Things would be much worse if he was absolutely alone with no companionship. I’m not sure where you live but in Canada, a social worker is called in such cases to review and assess the person’s situation and talk to family.

    They’re quite capable of understanding when a patient acts and usually supply a homecare provider to help a bit with the laundry, cooking, cleaning and they practically report to the supervisors if they feel the situation needs extra attention. The best thing to do right now is just be hopeful and positive and talk to them with your husband present.

    Explain the situation and maybe have a dietician or doctor make a schedule, exercise, and nutrition/meal plans for them to adhere to. Then just be on top of that and check up on them once a while and explain that their independency relies on them to care and not in anyway cause harm to themselves.


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