It’s 2012 and things are getting tough. “Dad I can’t do this anymore.” I try to explain as I sit on the side of his bed. His eyes closed as he pretends to be asleep.
It has been a year since Dad had “the stroke” in our family business. He has done as good as he will ever do with rehab and occupational therapy. There has not been any progress for several months.
The therapies have been discontinued by Medicare because of his lack of progress and his days are filled with sleeping or pretending to understand what he is watching on TV.
“The stroke” has taken away his ability to speak very well and Alzheimer’s is taking its toll on Dad’s ability to comprehend what anyone says to him. I wonder how the awkward conversation I am about to have with him is going to sit.
I continue “Dad, I know you and Mom want to live your lives here at the house but, I got a call from the Fire Department last night. They told me that they had been out to the house twice this week to pick you up off the floor. They also told me that if they had to come by again they would report ME to Protective Services for Elder Abuse. It’s time for us to start looking for an assisted living facility.”
You see, Dad was diabetic and after “the stroke” he could no longer administer his insulin injections. Mom was fighting dementia so, between the two of them, he often did not get his injection. I pre-loaded the syringes for the week and there they would sit in the refrigerator untouched and un-remembered.
Dad lie there with his eyes closed. I noticed him peeking through his eyelids after a few moments of silence. The words Elder Abuse and Assisted Living Facility appeared to be sinking in.
While he could not speak full sentences he could spit out a few words. Sounding like Tarzan Dad mumbles “No. We ok. No go.”
I can see this was not going to be easy. Stating my case against staying at home, I lay out the facts as unemotionally as Joe Friday telling someone “Just the facts, ma’am.”
Not healthy. Not safe. Likelihood of starting a fire. I ran through the list I had run through my mind while I was driving to the family home.
Dad is unswayed. Repeating, “No. We ok. No go.”
It wasn’t until I got emotional, pleading and begging with him and telling him Mom couldn’t take care of him anymore that Dad relented.
“Ok we go.” Is all he said as he pulled up the covers and rolled on his side away from me.
Many time having the uncomfortable, awkward conversation is what is demanded. I suggest that you do it sooner rather than later.
Like a doctor telling you to eat clean and exercise is always preferred over being told you are being prepped for bypass surgery. A surgery that could have been avoided had you led a better lifestyle.
It can be painful to hear the words but it is the right thing to do. Lead those you care about with some honest but difficult conversations. They will be better off in the long run.
Live, Love Matter