Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Changes... Always Changes.

I went over to visit Dad last Friday. It was a beautiful, sunny day; the kind of day where we live that makes you trust, just for a minute, that Summer will get here eventually, even though you know that the next day will yet again be cold and rainy and depressing. It's the kind of day that Dad used to love. Anyway, I opened the door to his home and saw him in his usual post-lunch spot on the couch, drowsing away. I was looking forward to seeing him, but also to seeing the lovely family that's been caring for him for the past year, and their delightful two-year-old daughter, who seems to really like Dad. Every time I remember our holiday visit to Dad, when she couldn't find him in his room and ran through the house saying, 'Where Dullas? Where Dullas?", I smile, and give thanks that this caring family lends some normalcy to Dad's situation, and lets him experience the special energy of small children. I felt secure in the care and environment they were providing.

As I moved further into the living room, an older, ethnic gentleman I didn't know rose from the couch where he'd been reading the paper. He introduced himself as a new caregiver after I told him who I was and I asked him what days he was at the house. He replied that he and his wife were new, that they'd been there for about a week, and were the replacement for the family that had been there before. As we spoke, an older, kind-faced woman I presumed was his wife came out of the kitchen and introduced herself. I talked for a little bit with the new couple, asking what they knew of the departure, which wasn't much, and they seemed both caring and knowledgable. I explained that I visited Dad when I could and that I enjoyed just sitting quietly with him. I'm sure their care of Dad will be both kind and efficient. But it won't be the same. As I sat with Dad, smiling at him whenever he opened his eyes and looked at me, I felt a deep sadness that not only had I not had the chance to say goodbye to people I genuinely liked, but that he would no longer receive care from a couple that I felt had not only truly liked Dad but had in some way included him in their family. It's also very difficult for Dad in his present state to accept change and difference, and I fear it will be hard for him to adapt to new caregivers. I hope it won't bring about a resurgence of his anxiety and aggression.

But this is the reality in the world of elder caregiving-there's a lot of turnover. Caregivers either burn out or move on to another city or another job. Let's face it, there's not a lot of money in this business, which is a real shame as anyone who's willing to take on the difficult and intimate care of someone with dementia deserves a million dollars- and a medal! I'm sad that Dad will no longer benefit from his little family, and I'm sad that he won't get to borrow their daughter anymore. She has such a bright spirit, that he really responded to. I wish them well, wherever they've gone, and if I could, I would tell them thank you for their care of Dad and their big hearts. In this world I never asked to be a part of, I've discovered that finding good people, kind enough to lift some of my burden, who really like and want to care for my Father is not always easy, so you want to hang on to them come hell or high water. Not only do I think he liked them, but I think they made his disease a little easier for him to live with. For his sake, I wish I could have hung on to this family just a little while longer.


  1. It just seems like you should have been notified of the change. I realize this system must not work that way.

    I look forward to you deleting the comment above. Another reminder of the Internet's underbelly.

    xoxox, Janice from San Diego