Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I Didn't See This Happening

Having spent a short week with my parents and seeing my father in a full on dementia state for one night, I was concerned about his health and ability to perform. He was also. In fact, my presence testifying to his condition further strengthened what my mother had been reporting about him.
Walking around in the mall with him, I confronted him about this issue. "What are you going to do?"
"Well your mother thinks we should move into a condo."
I felt like hitting my head against the wall. "What will that do? Are you both able to get by on your own without any outside assistance?"
He looked back at me, "Well what do you want us to do?"
I told him that he needed to start being serious and to consider where things were going.
The next day he came to me.
"We need help," he said. "We can't manage on own anymore."
"Well what do you want me to do? Do you want to go live with my sister?"
My sister was in the process of closing a deal on a home, as she called it 'a fixer upper', and in the remodelling process would set up an extra room where my parents could stay.
They shrugged at this. "Live in a room? Taking away space from her daughters? I don't even think I ever met her new husband. Plus your sister can be a very difficult person to deal with sometimes."
"And you'd be completely, absolutely completely, dependent upon her."
My father came back with an insert from a local newspaper, with a pull out section focusing on Assisted Living communities. "Maybe you can check on these?"
He was anxious. It was Friday afternoon. I went away for Friday night/Saturday. By Saturday night, I came back.
"Well did you have a chance to look into those places?"
I looked at him askance. "Are you serious? These places aren't open for calls on Saturday." So I promised to look into this. The next day I was on a plane and my short visit to my parents was over, but he continued to want to make sure that I would be looking into this.

By the time my plane touched down and I was back home, they called. "We are not doing so good, so we will probably go live with your sister."
"What if you don't like it?"
"I don't know. What choice do we have?"
I was thrown for a loop. The day before they asked me to look into different home care and assisted care situations, then they just gave that up.
Instilled with the tendency to be an ever-helpful son, I couldn't just leave this like so, I wanted to present them with choices. I looked up all the home care and assisted living options that were on the pullout section they gave me, contacting them about prices and details about their services and facilities. My parents don't have a computer, so I couldn't email them the information. Instead I emailled it to a UPS office center for them to pick up the print out.
I asked him about his finances.
"Well I keep a large amount of money in a checking account."
"But that is low interest, what about moving it to a COD or Money Market to get better returns?"
"I am concerned about if the bank goes bankrupt and the Federal Insurance doesn't cover it?"
"But you could possibly make more interest and not cut into your principle? What about spacing out COD's?"
"Sounds too hard to organize. If something should happen to us, you would never find the money."
"So, Dad, is this the information that you were interested in,that you wanted me to look up?"
"I don't know if I need that. I'll have to look into it."
"But you did give me that pullout and ask me to look into care options."
"Your sister will be really bummed out if we don't come to live with her. She is really looking forward to taking care of us."
"She was just at your place for three weeks, and she didn't contact the doctor once. Instead she had you cleaning up a cluttered garage and installed a new garage door opener. She has a little baby, two teenagers, and has only been married a year. I hope she has time for you."
"I don't know," he sighed, "I just didn't see this happening."
"I saw this 10 years ago."
"Really? What signs did you see?"
"Nothing. I knew that in 10 years you would be 10 years older and likely more susceptible to conditions that affect old people. You just never wanted to consider that things might change."
I kick myself sometimes and ask myself why I let myself get pulled in. Why can't I just step back? Let them make their own decisions, even if after they will be complaining or calling out to me for more help. It will just be an endless spin - reach out, I work, they pull away, I am frustrated.

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