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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Life As A Caregiver

We are soldiering on day by day caring for my 97 year old father.  It's hard to see him so slowed down and nearly helpless after growing up under his parenting.  He was an energetic, brilliant man who could do almost anything he put his mind to.  I learned so much from him.

Now he isn't sure what day of the week it is and needs help with everyday basic tasks.  We do whatever we can to make him comfortable and happy, whether it be putting on his favorite TV shows (Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy) to serving him his unending love for another bowl of strawberry ice cream.

We've had doctor visits, a night in the hospital when we though he had a stroke (he didn't) and have a visiting home health nurse and physical therapist several times a week to closely monitor his health.

When the weather cooperates, we have him outside enjoying the sun and fresh air for a change of pace.  We get him out to various places as much as we can but it really tires him out so we have to be very careful.

The bottom line is we will keep him here at our home as long as we can, glad to be able to provide a safe and warm environment for him.  As for our life, we have put it on hold, we have only limited days with him and would not want to look back and be sorry for not doing enough for him.

The Journey patiently awaits in a nearby storage lot.  I try to get over every other week to check up on it.  At least once a month I start up the generator and engine and drive it around the storage lot in circles for a bit.  When I have more time I take it for a long drive up and down the nearby interstate.

The house batteries are starting to show their age as the are over five years old.  I have a list of items I want to take care of this coming spring to get things up to 100%.  First on the list is an overall wash, it is amazing how dirty the Journey gets just sitting.  At least there are no new bugs stuck on the front.

We are planning a trip in June with the Journey to Disney World's Fort Wilderness with our daughter and grandsons Andrew and Owen.  It will be good to get out on the road for a bit.  We have been making arrangements for my brother to take my Dad for the time we're away.  Haven't quite figured out how we'll juggle him back and forth from SC to NJ and back but we'll find a way.

We've had occasional thoughts of downsizing the Journey to a smaller RV, but at this time  it just doesn't make sense.  We'd never get a return on the money the Journey cost (ah the joys of a depreciating asset) but we do like the large room and sleeping space (8 beds!) for our Disney visits and trips with the grandkids.   So we'll continue to hang on to it.  Hard to believe it's 12 years old already, seems like just the other day we drove it brand new off the dealer's lot.  It's got a little wear and tear on it but there is a lot of life and miles left in it.  Hopefully I have the same!  :c)


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Didn't See This One Coming

Semper Gumby, our motto (Always Flexible).  It has been put to the test once again.

My 97 year old father has had some serious health issues that have changed his lifestyle, the last one was when he fell and broke his hip while visiting us last summer.  The hip is doing very well, but it came with a variety of new challenges, he needs a walker and wheelchair to get around and no longer can dress or bath himself, let alone drive a car or cook meals.  He's also having some mental decline with memory issues.  He can no longer live by himself.  The "joys" of getting older.

We had worked out a  good plan to take care of him with my brother and SIL, rotating Dad back and forth every couple of months between their home in NJ and our home in South Carolina.  Unfortunately that didn't work out, because my brother still works, so a lot of the care issues fell on my SIL.  After a couple of weeks they realized they could not handle Dad's care.

The solution?  Dad is back here with us in SC permanently.  It is a new challenge taking care of him, nothing we can't handle with both of us retired, but it requires one of us (usually me) to be with him at all times.  I handle the dressing and bathing and Marti ensures we provide Dad with his favorite meals and oversees all his meds and health care needs.

Basically, it has locked us down and we can't go anywhere and do things like we used to unless we bring Dad along with us.  Every time we do take him out to eat or shop it tires him out so mostly we stay home.  So the Journey sits in a nearby storage lot unused.  I do go there and check on it, run the generator and engine every couple of weeks and take it for a short spin.  I can't let it be neglected.  We do miss our travels in it and are not able to make any travel plans in it for the foreseeable future.

So it's a lot of sitting with Dad watching Hallmark movies along with a steady diet of Wheel Of Fortune and Jeopardy at night.  It's hard seeing Dad decline after being an amazing brilliant man, but Marti and I are happy to be able to love and care for him in these twilight years. Family first.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.   

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Just a Quick Update

This has been an unusual summer, for sure.  Sometimes you don't see the curveball coming your way, but when it hits, you have to deal with it.

After we returned from our cruise, I had looked forward to giving some love to the Journey and even going away for a weekend or two.  I have a maintenance project list to keep it in good shape.

All that changed in an instant.

My 96 year old Dad came down from NJ for a week long visit mid July.  Normally he has been living with my brother and SIL in NJ.  They had a planned vacation in Europe, so we welcomed my Dad to stay with us.

After the first two days with us, Dad got up and bent over to make his bed.  He lost his balance, fell and broke his hip.  On the way to the floor, somehow, he also sliced his ear open on a bedside table.  I ran into his room and found him on the floor in agony, with blood all over.  Amazing how an ear can bleed.

The usual then took place.  An ambulance ride to the ER, then a stitching up of his ear.  X-rays, CT scan and then surgery the next day for a partial hip replacement.

So I've been pretty much by his side 24/7 ever since.  Sleeping in the hospital next to him for a week, then in the rehab hospital for two more weeks.  After release from the rehab hospital, it was outpatient rehab three times a week.  We've completed that and he is getting around pretty well with his walker and occasional wheelchair use.

Since he has limits on how he can and can't bend, I have to help him dress, undress and shower.  If he should move in the wrong way, he could dislocate the hip and we'd have to start hospital and rehab all over again.  Nope, don't want to do that!

We've kept him active, taking him out at least somewhere every day, sometimes just to the store, but we've been to a couple of high school football games, band concerts, church, dinners and so on.  I've even taken him with me to the USO where I volunteer and also to the gun range to shoot a few holes in a paper target (he did amazingly well, the last time he fired a gun was in WWII).  He's been enjoying watching the Hallmark Channel on TV most nights, too.

Looks like next weekend, we'll be able to take him home to NJ, just in time to see the leaves turning.  He's looking forward to going back to my brother's.  We've decided since he can no longer live on his own, we'll rotate hin back and forth from NJ to here in SC every couple of months, giving him a change of pace and a break for us caretakers.  It's a lot of work, but you have to take care of your family.

One thing, though, we don't let him make the bed anymore!  :cD

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