Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Indignities.

Poor Dad. I went to see him today in his new room. They had put in the new carpeting and it looked great, although it really still smelled like new carpet. When I came in the front door, one of the caregivers saw me and smiled at me and told me that Dad was currently being changed, since it was just after lunch, and could I wait a few minutes.

As I waited, I chatted with one of the other residents who had a stroke; he's made some strides but I don't think he'll ever leave. I also chatted with the house owner, Greg, and we discussed the fact that Dad has lived there for five years! Unbelievable. We moved him in a few days before my birthday in February five years ago, when I had just started dating Paul. Now every time I have a birthday (44!) I remember moving Dad.

The owner told me that a few days ago, Dad had been very energetic and happy, answering with a "Pretty good." when asked how he was, and agreeing with his name when they asked him if that was him. Greg said he'd even seemed to walk more easily. I was so happy to hear this, and thought it lined up with how Dad has been on recent visits - more engaged and smiling. When I was cleared to go into his room, though, I could see right away that Dad didn't look well. He was hunched in his recliner, face drawn, mouth in a tight line.

His eyes were fixed on the wall, and I moved slowly into his line of vision, as I've been doing lately, until I met his eyes. I think I saw him register my face, but his eyes and face didn't change one bit: he looked very unhappy and stressed, and he refused to smile at me or even really let his eyes register my presence. I can only guess that it was because of the ordeal he had just experienced - being cleaned and changed - people performing intimate, private functions in order to keep him healthy.

I can only imagine how it must be to have once been an independent, functioning adult, with control over your body and life, and now you must suffer others to do what we do for babies. The loss of dignity and control must be horrifying, even to someone with dementia who has limited idea of what is happening around them. There are some things I think we always understand - and some things that are too upsetting, no matter what our mental state. The loss of privacy and control. It was obvious that he hated it with everything he has left.

I stayed for a little while, sitting next to him on the little stool I brought, wishing I could do something to make it better. It seemed like the only thing to do was to leave him alone and not impose my presence on him, so he could recover in peace and some semblance of privacy. I hope he is able to get back to the happier, talkative place. I hope he has a good nap this afternoon and wakes up feeling better. And most of all, I hope he is able to forget each time he must undergo these kinds of care.

5 comments:

  1. Joy, it breaks my heart to read this. Hopefully, the next time you visit, he'll be better. Jim was in long-term care for five years. There were a lot of ups and downs.

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  2. My heart goes out to those with elderly parents who see them in decline. Makes us appreciate life more when see these often sad conclusions

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