Monday, July 13, 2009

Tearing Out My Hair, Over Respite Care

Last Thursday was another one of those blowups. This time though it was a "combo". He packed his bags to leave (over an argument about her not letting him manage her medications) AND he went golfing rather than the usual trip to vent to me. Mom called her sister and said this time he had left for good. Her sister checked with me to see if I'd heard from him. I said he was probably just golfing and she was mistaken. I left him a voicemail to ask if he had "left" or was he just golfing. Dad called me after his golf game to tell me it was actually both. And as usual, he went back home.

I got really frustrated that night. I was getting really tired of sitting here watching this stupid scenario play out over and over. She's not going to ever magically change and become compliant all the time. NEVER. I don't think he's come to the point where he has really accepted that. I've chatted with him about respite care many times, and he would alway balk a little then say yes, he knows it's something he needs to do. But when I try to push a little harder, trying to discuss who we might call, where we might go, he steps back and says that things are actually going a little better that particular day, so he doesn't need to worry about that right now.

I sat there tossing and turning that night. I have nightmares on a regular basis where my Dad dies from the stress way before it's Mom's time to go. Where I end up being the one who is faced with making the decisions, and bearing the brunt of Mom's anger and accusations. Where I am overwhelmed with guilt because I am not any where near as patient as my Dad, so I would end up putting her in assisted living immediately without question. Where I avoid going to see her because I can't take the crying and abusive comments, just like she did when her parents were suffering from the same disease.

I got online and searched for the website that Dad said he would "put her in when the time was right." I thought, how could you possibly know you would "put" her somewhere that you have never been? It is time here to start checking these places out, and find out what they're all about. We can't wait until the point that he goes over the edge and can't take it one more day. How would we have the presence of mind to make the right decisions so hastily?

The site popped up and mentioned a service that caught my eye. "Short-Term Respite Care". WOW. I never knew this type of service was available in a memory care facility. Apparently it is not something that is offered much out there. But it seemed like a godsend. Right now Dad can head out for an afternoon of golf and not worry (too much) about her. But he can't go away overnight or for a weekend, or just fly down to his condo in Florida (like I am sure he would love to). This type of respite care would make those sorts of things possible, AND it would allow us to get a taste of the facility before having to place her somewhere permanently.

I was so gung ho I was sure he would go for it immediately. Yeah, there was the part about getting Mom to go there, yeah that would be an even bigger challenge, but I was sure that the people at the facility would be able to teach us ways to do that. They're the experts and they've dealt with this hundreds of times. The director sent me some great information and we had an awesome talk on the phone. I felt lighter and happier, like I had made this great discovery that would help get some of this pressure off of my Dad.

NOT. When I sent him the info he just sent me a terse reply saying that he didn't think he was ready to "put Mom in a nursing home". Well, it felt like a terse reply, but more likely it was just a man overwhelmed with so much grief he doesn't want to face any more difficult stuff right now. I tried my best to convince him that I wasn't asking him to do that, I was just wanting to find out about respite care, and get the info about this type of facility so we knew what to prepare for. And to take advantage of all of the resources they had there to help us.

Eventually he agreed that he could "probably" meet me there at the facility next Monday. That's the closest thing to a commitment I am going to get, so I'll go with it. I had told him I was going with or without him. He probably felt guilty knowing that I would drive 90 minutes to an appointment just a few blocks from his house, just to do this. So maybe I guilt tripped him into doing it, I dunno. But I don't feel bad about it. I felt like I helped him take another little step in this awful journey.

We'll see if he shows up. But either way I am going.

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