Courage And Kindness

So many wonderful friends have been calling, texting, and messaging concern asking: How is Your Father Doing?
It makes me think of the theme for the new Cinderella live action movie – outstanding by the way – rush to see!
Anyway, the Cinderella theme is “have courage and be kind.”
That’s how I try to be with my dad and his current challenges. He is recovering, slowly, but it is a tedious process, requiring lots of help, and lots of care. Courage and kindness required by all.
Before his last surgery and then bad fall, caring for an 88 year old who thinks he is totally fine and who lives in my home has been quite a process. An exhausting, worrisome process for sure, for both my husband and me.
He has several medical conditions but is mostly mentally sharp. Still he can’t do any kind of self-care. He neglects it, which is common in the elderly. So even on the best days, it has been a lot of work and a lot of adjustment.
I don’t like tooting my own horn, (who am I kidding, I do it all the time!) but my husband and I deserve a medal, or even sainthood (except we are not Catholic) for the past week following Dad’s surgery. Especially my husband, because he is not his dad, he’s mine.
It would have made sense, had the doctors and I thought about it properly and in advance, for my dad to be released from the hospital and into a rehabilitation center, which is what they do for elderly people who need quality nursing care and recovery time.
My dad, who insists he is strong and alert, would have gone too, had the doctors recommended that.
Instead, after day surgery, he was released home. I hired a caretaker for the daytime hours, but it is not enough, was not enough.
Dad was so weakened by the surgery, that he took a bad tumble the day after surgery. His resulting injuries are worse than the surgical procedure he had — stitches in two places, severe bruising and black and blue marks, and hemotomas in several places (blood build up inside skin that hasn’t broken open.)
I should have upped the caretakers at that point, but I didn’t know of anyone else, and so it was just me and my husband trying to do the caretaking.
I would probably laugh if I was a reader or listener and  I heard some of the stories I could tell about this attempt at caretaking, involving bathrooms and urination, and accidents, and it would even sound like I have an infant around instead of an 88 year old man.
Yet I am not laughing. Dad fell yet again, and I had to have “the talk” with him a couple of times already. I told him when it wasn’t safe for him to stay in my home, he would have to go to a nursing home. He loves the care at Seven Acres where my mom is, so he bravely agreed. 

The time though has not arrived in his mind, though my husband and I are thinking it may be sooner than he thinks, because he really needs a lot of care. We will play it by ear with the daytime caretaker but the evenings and overnights have been exhausting. Hopefully, as he heals, it will become less of a nightmare to do his caretaking, and we will get back to our new normal. Of course, we are trying to also resume our busy lives, with all of the busy programming, events and activities that we had scheduled in advance.

It’s a tightrope balancing act right now, and so if you ask me how my dad is doing, the answer is that he is doing as well as can be expected. Then ask me how I am doing, because I am exhausted. Yet, I remember – have courage to do this very big job and above all, show kindness.

10 comments

  • I totally get what you are going through. Although my mother never lived with me or my two brothers, it was difficult to get her to come up to live in independent living in Philadelphia, from Florida. She came up when she was 85 years old. She did well and thrived in independent living although we had to get her more and more extra care while she lived there. It basically became assisted living because she was getting so much extra care with medicines, etc. . Then, after being in the hospital, she came out to go into the assisted living at Paul’s run. We had arranged her room to look identical to her assisted living apartment to try to ward off what the elderly go through in terms of hallucinations when they are in a different place. However, she could not flourish in that situation no matter how much I visited and when she went into the hospital again in a month she was told she could not come back there. The doctor said she needed to be put in hospice Because of her congestive heart failure and had only a few weeks to survive. because of constant visitation on a daily basis by myself and my brothers, my mother survived an additional 9 months. No matter how much care she received, it was never enough to protect her from falls and other issues which I would address in a private talk as opposed to a public forum. So, if you ever need to talk it out privately or need some virtual hand holding, I’m here.

    • I should have mentioned, my mom live to age 93.

      • I see I can’t get it once I send in this forum. I need to correct where I said that her assisted apartment was made to look like her previous assisted apartment. I meant to say we made her assisted apartment look identical to her independent living apartment. Sorry about the confusion.

    • Thanks for writing. We all do what we need to do. Lots of kindness!

  • I give all of my friends who are fortunate to still have their parents, a lot of credit. Unfortunately, or fortunately (however you see it) I lost both my parents in 1990 and 1993, respectively. Neither mom or dad made it to their 70th birthdays. I feel like it was much easier in lots of ways, to have gone through the caring for them and loss at a younger age, myself. Having them into my adult years probably would have been much more difficult to deal with……Hang in everyone!

  • Hi Arlene,
    Prayers for patience and good cheer as you deal with your dad. I went through this with both my parents, who have passed. Unfortunately, we had to do the nursing home after many frequent falls too. You feel guilty doing that, but it really is the best thing for all involved.
    Hugs from Arizona, Liz

  • I had no idea Arlene! And yes, you should be sainted..I know very few people who have taken this road, but like any long road you travel, you need to rest. And rest a lot. You’re too young to have this kind of physical and mental exhaustion. You got your parents to Texas, where they belong, where things are much safer and much more pleasant then they ever were on the east coast. But you(and Gary) need that respite, so take it without looking back.

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