Wednesday, November 15, 2006


That's what dear old's condition is called.

I went to the rehab center to see him, and on my way to his room stopped at the nurses' station to talk to someone. Yesterday when I was there, one of the nurses had asked me if he had ever seemed "confused" to us while he lived with us, and I said, "Not that I can recall." Today, of course, I said, "We had evidence of that last night." She nodded and said, "Good, I'm glad it wasn't just me," and went on to explain that dear old has had Jekyll-and-Hyde episodes: "One minute he's a very sweet old man, the next he's confused, and a little while later he's downright nasty." Yep!

"Ask him," she said, "if he remembers calling you last night. I bet he doesn't." And sure enough, he didn't! Apparently very old people get this thing called "sundowning," where they get phenomenally confused about everything in life once the sun goes down; and while the sun is up, they are their normal, rational selves. I'd heard of this, but hadn't realized it was kicking in with dear old.

Now I'm glad I kept my patience, and kept my visit with him friendly. Glory to God for granting me that patience, and the visit with the nurse beforehand; but these doctors, who keep insisting that living into your nineties is a good thing....!!!!!

When I got home, I called dh at work and told him the nurse said not to bother visiting his father, because dear old won't remember it. Dh was shocked, to say the least, but yeah, that's consistent with sundowning, too. Oh, and it's exacerbated by alcohol -- the smile on her face when I told her about the phone call, and his "tippling" habits (I wish it were only tippling!) was priceless. I feel bad for dh, but at least we know dear old really isn't playing with a full deck.

Brought Up on Charges

At least, that's what Dear Old Dad is threatening to do to dh and me. Why? Because his son didn't visit him last night.

The day after my last post, we went to church. Now, dear old, being 94, doesn't see the need to go to church anymore, since he went for the first 90 years of his life (doesn't seem to have done much good), so he was planning to stay home. Well, since he can't stay home by himself, we got someone in from a local organization to stay with him. He was NOT happy. Didn't see why he couldn't stay by himself. (Possibly because on Saturday evening, he got panicky when dh was working in the cellar and I was working in the office, and he thought we had left him alone???)

So the next day, after we get back from church, dear old decides to take himself for a walk. The conversation went like this: "I WANNA GO FOR A WALK!" "OK, let me get the cars washed and I'll take you." "I WANNA GO BY MYSELF!" "OK, but just stay in the driveway." So dh helps dear old down the steps -- he can't get down steps by himself -- comes back into the house to get a pail of water to wash the cars, and by the time he's back outside, dear old is halfway down the block.

Well, you know the rest. He turned to come back, and on his way back, fell. It was plain he couldn't move his left leg, so we called the EMTs, and they came and assessed him. He about had them convinced it was just sciatica when they asked him if he could stand ono the leg, and he said No; so they took him to the emergency room, where, you guessed it, an x-ray showed he had broken a hip.

He spent all last week in the hospital, and dh worked from home half days so he could concentrate on getting dear old's finances in order, in case we needed to pay for any of his care (also so that we could afford assisted living for him!). The last couple of days, dear old was getting quite cantankerous about being there; he'd had enough, and wanted to come home. Instead, he went to a rehab facility on Sunday.

We visited him there both Sunday and Monday, but yesterday dh went back to work in Boston, and I went to the rehab facility by myself to see the social worker in charge of dear old's case -- there were a couple of things I thought she should know about his condition, among them the fact that we were considering assisted living once he's out of rehab. When she heard what dh's ghastly hours were, she said he shouldn't bother coming to visit his father on the days when he works in Boston, since dear old has plenty of company and is quite wiped out by his physical therapy. (We could see that!)

So last night, at 9:00 p.m., we're getting ready for bed and the phone rings. It's dear old, threatening to swear out an arrest warrant on us for "abandonment." Let's see, dh gets home at 7:00 p.m., still has to have his dinner and wind down from the day, but is that a good enough reason to just stay home and RELAX?!?!?! Evidently not! I plan to take myself off to the rehab center today, tell one of the nurses, or maybe the social worker, about this latest development, and see if they will support my telling off dear old, in no uncertain terms.

It feels lousy to do such a thing. He's old. He's alone. We're his only family, besides his grandkids. ("And whose fault's that?" whispers my baser self.) But I'm sorry -- when you live with other people, consideration all around is pretty basic, even at 94.

(An amusing aside: At one point, a Catholic priest came to visit dear old in the hospital. He supported dear old's decision not to attend Mass anymore. This past Sunday, meanwhile, my Orthodox priest gave a sermon: "Whether you're 16 or 86 -- or 96 -- you still have to struggle. The spiritual struggle is part of our salvation." Right now, I'm struggling not to wring dear old's neck!)