Things are Changing

by Bette
(El Cerrito, CA)

My partner and I moved her father here from another city about 10 months ago. He lives semi-independently in his own apartment, about 5 blocks from us.

He is 88 now and has long-standing Type 2 insulin-dependent diabetes, heart disease (plus a pacemaker, implanted 4 years ago after he collapsed from complete heart block), high blood pressure (medicated), neuropathy in his feet, severe edema in his legs and feet, moderate renal failure, and some cognitive deficits from a stroke 7 years ago.

He also seems to be having some additional mental deficits in terms of memory and some disgusting antisocial behavior (which he can control when he chooses to).

He is still able to inject his insulin twice a day (but often needs to be reminded), manages his many other medications, pays most of his bills (with some help), and can feed himself, bathe himself (with mixed success), and mostly avoid incontinence (he has had a few accidents of both kinds over the past year). He does no shopping, cleaning, or laundry but can use the phone and watch TV.

As soon as he got here, he began a slow but steep decline and has now settled at another lower level of functioning. In the past month or so, he has fallen at home at least twice (that we know of) but either doesn't remember or lies about falling because he doesn't want us to know. (We told his doctor about it because we wanted the doctor to see the bruises and examine the lacerations for signs of infection.)

He refuses so far to use his walker but instead lurches about with a cane, or sometimes without it at home. He goes out only rarely, both because of his mobility problems and because he is apathetic, despite a prescribed and adjusted antidepressant.

I am very concerned about the falls. He has been lucky so far, but a bad fall will be a life-altering event for him. We can't take him in with us, and he has little money for in-home care (though he thinks nothing of throwing down $300 in a restaurant). He wants to stay in his apartment.

We need more cooperation from him about basic things (like using the walker, wearing his MedAlert bracelet at all times, etc.) so we can help him maintain his current quality of life and avoid major trouble for as long as possible. I find myself wishing that he had never had the pacemaker implanted!

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by: Anonymous

He has little money for in home help? But can throw down $300. eating out? Ummm. So, he should hire a little help and you should insist on it. Say from 6 pm to 9 pm to help make sure he eats his supper, takes his evening insulin, help him shower and get ready for bed. Even if this is only 5 days a week.

I am sure he could hire someone at a reasonable rate, a health care aide. That's only 15 hours, or 21 hours in a week (if he has someone 7 days a week) and takes care of a lot of issues. Don't let the cant's get in the way and recognize them from the 'wont's'. It's time to put your foot down before he gets hurt.

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