Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How does this happen?

Still reeling from this:

Most personal care homes don't have the staff to send someone along with a resident when the resident needs to go to the hospital. (Which I totally don't understand. When you send a dementia patient to the hospital, how are they supposed to answer questions about how they were hurt? Or where they hurt? Or when their birth date is? Or what types of medications they take? The answer: they CAN'T!) So, hospital staff is left trying to figure out things with the limited information they receive from the EMTs who transport the resident.

Families, then, are totally dependent on the home's staff to notify them a) that a resident has been hurt, and 2) that they have gone to the hospital ER.

Perhaps some families don't care. Perhaps they let their loved ones go through these ordeals alone. I don't know. But I do know that my sister and I DO care, and the thought of my father being alone in a strange, bewildering place that is noisy, and crowded, with people who don't know him, possibly don't even know that he has dementia, is unconscionable. Just the thought of it is enough to bring me to tears.

Yet, it happened.

Yesterday, around 4:30 p.m., my father evidently fell in the Memory Care unit. Because he hit his head and was bleeding a bit, they had to send him to the ER to be checked out.

Guess what time they called to inform us that Dad was in the ER?

Answer: they didn't.

Let me repeat that.

No one called.

Around 10 p.m., one of the night staff called my sister to ask how Dad was doing since he wasn't back from the hospital yet. And that's how we discovered Dad was in the ER.

When my sister frantically called the ER, she found out that Dad was being discharged and would soon be transported back to the home.

For six hours, my father was alone in the ER, with no one to comfort him, or keep him from being unduly afraid, or to explain to him what was going on. No one.

Fortunately, my father seems to be okay. But what if something had happened in that ER? What if it had been much more serious, and my sister and I were unable to be at his side because no one friggin' called to say, "Oh, by the way, your Dad fell and is in the hospital."

I can't even begin to tell you how upsetting this is. When we visited Dad today, all we could think about was what if something had happened to him and at least one of us hadn't been there.

I feel like I've had all the air sucked out of my body. This is so wrong.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

With nine you get a baseball team

On a recent visit with Dad, we spent a lot of time talking about family. Dad kept trying to remember the names of his siblings, and with eight of them, that's not easy to do -- even without dementia!

At one point, I asked him what kind of games they played as kids, and whether they ever played baseball. Witty as ever, he responded that with nine of them, they never had to go looking for people to make up a team.

Note to my Wills family members: this is worth watching till the end to see what he says when I ask him his father's name. So cute.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Got Milk?

Me, Dad, big Sis
Friday was pizza and chocolate milk day again in Memory Care. (These pizza days seem to come around a lot faster than once a month!). Very happy to say that Dad was in a great mood and cracking jokes. Sis and I had a lovely visit with him.

It seems all we have to do most days is bring Dad chocolate milk and he is happy. Friday, just as if he were drinking a fine wine, he pronounced his chocolate milk perfectly chilled. (Sounded like a commercial: We will drink no chocolate milk before it's time. *grin*)

His eyes are still bothering him, as you'll see in the video, but it's impossible to keep him from rubbing them. The medication the doctor gave him some weeks ago doesn't seem to help much.

In the midst of our lovely visit, Dad went to drink his milk and suddenly seemed unable to do it. He looked at the cup in his hand for a while, tried to remove a lid that wasn't there, then brought it close to his face, but tried to put it to his chin, then his cheek. I had to gently guide his hand until the cup was at his mouth, then tip it up for him. After that, he seemed to catch on. Alzheimer's doesn't let you forget for a minute that it is always present, always lurking.

Still, Dad had a really good day, and for that, we are thankful.

 The following tale is entitled, "A Man and His (Chocolate) Milk":