Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stupid Alzheimer's, Stupid Dementia of All Varieties

I am tired. Exhausted. Done. Depleted of energy. Compared, to my mom, however, I am the Energizer Bunny. 

I've written about my dad's dementia related to Lewy Body Disease, and the last few weeks have been incredibly stressful for our family.  We moved my parents to this area a year ago after 39 years in their house in Corsicana. A year and one day later we moved them out of the assisted living facility because Dad's condition required much more supervision than was available. After several weeks of looking and pricing (egads! The cost of long term care is hideous!), we decided on a new memory care facility that was just opening their second home last week. We had concerns from the beginning...the staff seems young and unprepared for the level of care some of the residents need.  In the last week, things began to crumble. One resident required almost one on one attention, and the most staff they have at a time is two. The needy resident went in and out of rooms, taking things, unmaking beds, and kicking walls. Dad chased her out of his room, and yelled often. After five days, the staff took Dad's cane away from him because he was threatening to hit her and others. 

On Thursday evening, we received a call that Dad had fallen, and the staff felt he needed to be seen by a doctor. I thought we might be able to take him in the car, but when we arrived, we realized he couldn't walk, even with a walker. That did not stop him from trying, though. An ambulance took him to the ER, and after many xrays, we found that had two fractured lumbar along with many bruises.  He is to be in a wheelchair for at least two weeks. We took him back to the facility, and after 20 to 30 minutes of battle, Mom got him into pajama pants and into bed. Mom and I got home around 12:30 a.m. and fell into bed. 

Mom received another call around 6:00 a.m.  Dad had fallen again, and this time he hit his head. The ambulance was called again, and off we went back to the hospital. When we arrived, Dad looked like he had lost a fight with his bloody head and black eye.  We did meet new staff members, since the shift had changed. We were very impressed by the hospital staff. Dad has not been a good patient. In fact, he's been rude to almost anyone trying to help him. He's hit and kicked, and called people names.  This is not my dad, and anyone who knows him understands that. Dementia is worsened by falls and stress. We also feel he may be somewhat dehydrated, and that makes it all worse, too. During the second visit to the hospital, a social worker helped us get Dad into a rehab facility. He will be there for four weeks minimum, and so far, we are waiting to be impressed.  Our prayer is that he can regain his ability to walk with his walker. I cannot imagine trying to keep him in a wheelchair.  When I pushed him down the hall a bit, he kept putting the brakes on. He has some strength but not in his legs obviously.  Mom has very little strength and stamina right now because of the chemo she is still getting (stupid cancer). We are praying she only has two more treatments. 

Meanwhile, back at the nursing home, Billy is doing pretty much the same.  I'm so thankful that he is fairly settled into where he is, and that for the most part, he's happy. I picked him up yesterday afternoon, and he was alert and smiling most of the evening. He speaks so little, that when he says anything I recognize, I get really excited.  We were standing in the foyer after worship last night, and he saw my brother-in-law and nephew walking toward us.  He said, Shawn, my brother-in-law's name. 

The main issue I have with Billy is getting him in and out of the car. A few weeks ago, it took us 20 minutes to get him in. I've learned that it's best if someone else opens the door, and I can just walk him to the door and get him as close as possible, then it's almost like muscle memory takes over, and he puts the correct leg in first.  If I walk him to the door, and stop to open it, it throws him off. Even when I get him in the car, he doesn't understand to scoot over. I sort of stuff him in, and make sure both feet are where I can close the door. He rides in the back seat, so I can use the child locks.  He loves to pull on the door handle. 

It's hard to believe that in January, Billy will have been in the nursing home for two years. I attended his Care Meeting last week, and we talked about the difference in Billy today and Billy then. He's declined so much, but he can still recognize his family and friends, smile and laugh, and he enjoys his meals.  The unit lost another resident last week....Hazel, the lady who insists that she dated Billy many years ago, passed on Wednesday. She had a stroke the weekend before. Another empty bed, but not for long.  Everyday, people are searching for a special place for their mom, their sister, their uncle, their husband.  We don't all find the right place on the first try. We have been blessed with the care Billy receives, and I do not take it for granted. 

Thank you so much for your support of us in so many ways...prayers, walking with us, visiting Billy, monetary assistance, and just asking about him.