I’ve been a bit MIA lately because I’ve been dealing with another hospitalization of my dad. If you recall from the summer, my dad was hospitalized due to a toxicity of one of his heart meds. Well – he was hospitalized for the same damn thing last week.
It started with a phone call from my mom, “Kimmy – I can’t get your father up.”
I sped down to their house to discover my dad slumped over in a chair. I thought he was dead. When I started screaming, he responded but was SO lethargic that I thought he was having a stroke. I started shouting questions like, “What day is it?” “Do you know where you are?” “Who am I?” He was able to answer all of the questions. He just complained about being “so tired”. But he couldn’t walk on his own. My mom and I basically carried him to his bed and then I called 911. (Actually – I called my brother and Jeremy… and both of them yelled at me to call 911.)
Long story short – this was another bout of medication toxicity. I was especially worried when my dad started asking if we were in Illinois (his hometown) and couldn’t recall what day it was anymore. The docs assured me that it was most likely due to the toxicity.
I was incredibly irritated with my parents. How could they let this happen again? I found out from my brother that my dad was strapped to a bed, had a “sitter” (someone that was assigned to my dad’s room 24/7) and was being belligerent to the hospital staff. The belligerence let me know that my dad was fine.
I received a phone call on Thursday from a hospital psychiatrist notifying me that he was deeming my father “mentally incompetent” and unable to check himself out. I just thought he meant for that night until…
I got a phone call Saturday night from the attending doctor. He elaborated on the mental incompetence and said that the hospital would not release him unless I had some sort of arrangement set up to manage the care of my father at home. The hospital felt that he was unsafe under my mother’s care and that they felt they were both “demented”. The doc mentioned assisted living.
Then on Sunday, we went to talk to the doc face to face. He completely downplayed the previous night’s discussion. It was no longer “mental incompetence”. It was that my dad was “forgetful” as was my mother so they couldn’t adequately manage my dad’s medication. No argument here on my part (or my parents) but he mentioned that they’d be transferring my dad so the psych ward to monitor his weening off of some medication. I was told he’d probably be in the hospital until Thursday at the latest. I convinced my dad to stay by saying, “You’re my only dad. I worry about you.”
But then on Monday, as I scrambled to get information on in-home nursing care to administer my dad’s meds, the new attending doctor informed me that the hospital will generally set up that type of care. This is something the weekend doctor failed to tell me.
Monday afternoon, I received a call from the Physician’s Assistant. They were releasing my dad! Apparently he didn’t meet the criteria to be transferred to psych (and that’s a good thing). But sadly, he also didn’t qualify for at home nursing care since from a medical insurance standpoint… my mom was still very capable of caring for my dad.
The PA recommended that I discard all of my dad’s existing meds (he had scripts for new meds) and check in with them every other day. I don’t have the capacity for home visits every other day.
And this, my friends, is just the beginning of what I know I’ll be dealing with for the rest of my parents’ lives. I will have to manage their care. My parents have now, somehow, become MY children. It is the circle of life. They raised me and now I must care for them in their elder years. And let me tell you – I was so not prepared for this but I’m sure nobody ever really is prepared.
I know that when my dad passes, my mom will become my complete dependent. Jeremy and I have already discussed accelerating our plans of buying a new home but this time we need to find one with enough space for a parent apartment.
And a part of me finds some of this a little funny. I had been somewhat preoccupied with the idea of having another baby and wanting one sooner rather than later. I guess the universe thought that this was a better way to give me another baby.
Have any of you had to manage the care of your parents? Where should I start?