My dad picked the phone and the man at the other end sounded a bit frantic. “Grandpa, I was in an accident.” “Matt is that you? It doesn’t sound like you,” my dad answered. “Yes, but I have a busted jaw and a bloody nose. I am in jail and I need your help” My dad become agitated, asked a few more question and “Matt” ended the conversation saying an attorney would be calling back because he needed money to get out of jail.
Fortunately, I was home and able to get the gist of the conversation quickly. First I called Matt to verify his condition then I called the police. They are certainly aware of these kinds of phone calls but said because many of these calls originate off shore , and there had not been a crime, there was nothing they could do about it. But sure enough, an “attorney from New York” called back and began to ask personal questions. My dad now told the guy he would have nothing to do with him, accused him of being a scam artist and if course, the man hung up. Way to go, Dad.
Whether they found out my family information from the internet, or verbal cues from my father or by randomly calling phone numbers, these ne’er do wells are still out there so it is a great time to remind your folks to never give out personal information or bank account numbers over the phone. The devil is at work preying on seniors to rob them of their financial resources, knowing that their family’s safety is paramount and they would do anything to help. Take some time to have a conversation about senior safety.
I love my parents and I love my grandchildren. How lucky I am that I got to spend time with them last weekend but boy am I tired. My parents, ages 84, and 82 require daily care. I am privileged that they live with me, but that also bears its burdens. While my grandchildren, ages 41/2 and 3, visited last week, I also had to squeeze in an 8:15 a.m. appointment for my dad. He has an aortic aneurysm that needed to be checked. So I am the one who takes him to major doctor appointments. Definition of major appt: a meeting with the doctor to diagnose or make a prognosis. Often times aging parents may not “listen” to what they are “hearing” (or not hearing), so I need to be there to make sure they don’t overreact or under react to what the doctor is saying. That meant making sure someone was there to watch the little ones while I drove the older one. My significant other, Ray, volunteered. Did I say volunteer? Nudging might be a better description, God love him. By the time I returned they had devoured cookies that they discovered in my parents’ pantry, the little guy had taken my son’s glasses and put them away……somewhere. And of course, toys were strewn about the family room. My days of complaining about being an empty nester are over. Be careful what you ask for, I say.
The good news is that I shed two pounds over the weekend. I think that happened when I was chasing the darlings up and down the bleachers, back and forth to the bathroom and concession stand and off the playing field during a high school soccer game we were attending for Ray’s son.
The costs of assisted living facilities can be so high and the paperwork so immense, it is enough to make one’s head spin. My parents are becoming more dependent on me and it becomes increasingly difficult to provide them with all they need on my own but here’s the deal. My significant other, Ray, and I have come upon a possible alternative – creating our own assisted living facility. We have found a century home. Actually, it was built in the 1880s and has been converted into a comfy place. Seniors, who can no longer cook or live alone, can come to enjoy life with the company of others, have their own space and not feel like they are in an institution. This house, has an addition with another several bedrooms, about 10 in total. We are contemplating taking over the operations of our own version of “This Old House.”
Hmmm,,, it is a terrific opportunity to give back and take in folks just like in the old days. I had heard stories about families taking care of older generations. After all, they can pass along the wisdom. Of course, if they have any memory issues, they tell you stories again, and again, and again which I have become accustomed to with my own father. But it is important for them to be engaged and if that means hearing him tell me that the garbage needs to go out five times, so be it.
So come along with me as I try to determine what our next adventure will be.
I have found another intriguing option for senior adults. Group homes for seniors….I visited a couple of these homes in Greater Cleveland and it seems like such a comforting way and a great alternative for seniors. One, Grand Living, in Copley, Ohio is run by Mary Bloom and is a residential care facility that has all the amenities of home life including an outside deck, an eat-in kitchen and an elevator to go from the main living area to the lower level. The suites are furnished with beautiful beds and dressers. Another facility called, Heart n Home in Seven Hills, was a bustle of activity with 10 seniors living there. They have semi-private rooms and large, family room, eating area and a relaxed atmosphere. These options both have small ratios of patient to staff and provide nursing care when needed. It got me thinking about the possibility of providing this kind of are for my parents.
I have an older brother and younger sister. Nonetheless, we are all definitely aver age 50. So why is it when I am the one that the parents live with, they need to call me on my cell phone to find out where I am if I am out past 11 p.m. Since when do I have a curfew? The first time they call, it was after midnight. They were concerned. I get it. But I have been out after 11 p.m. before and it is somewhat annoying to have your parents calling to find what time I will be home.
My parents live with me and I love them dearly. My mom is a stroke patient and a quadruple bypass survivor. Good for her. And I told her that the Good Lord gave her another 20 years and what is she going to do with that extra time. She and my dad, who suffers from macular degeneration, spend their time watching (listening) to TV. You know, the game show channel, with episodes of the Match game with Gene Rayburn. I want them to have a better quality of life and this blog is meant to be how to improve my life as a caregiver while giving them the best opportunity to have meaning in their life.
Last week, am acquaintance was in town for a few days for business. She has a young adult living with her who needs some guidance so we were discussing our similar situations. Being that we were in the midst of our work day, I suggested we meet for dinner. There’s this casual and cheap place I wanted to try called Two Bucks, everything is, you guessed it, Two Bucks. As I am turning into the parking lot the cell phone rings. “Cheryl;” The voice on the other end was my dad, a bit frantic. “What are you doing, I am worried about your mother. She cut her finger and it won’t stop bleeding.” Great. Hang up the phone and mosey on home to find the bleeding subsided for the time being. But having been through this before I decided to take her to the ER. Filled out the paper work, sat in the waiting room then into an exam room and stick her finger in iodine where we proceed to wait another 15 – 20 minutes. Not bad for an ER. I bring out my knitting (I am always prepared) and settle in. However Mom, who has nothing to do when she gets home but watch the Cleveland Indians lose again, gets irritated that the doctor is taking so long. Never mind they had a young girl with a seizure coming into the next room. So we finished up in about an hour and a half and the question is who learned the lesson in patience that evening>?
Today, I just met one more knitter who is sandwiched between at least two generations. And she has inspired me to get busy with this blog. Is this you? Are you instrumental in your parent(s)’ care while trying to get your children to develop those wings to fly?
When my parents and I moved in together six years ago, I took on the responsibility for their future. I did not know how much it would affect my life. Nor did I know how soon. My son, Michael, has encouraged me to start this blog because there are some heartwarming stories, and heart wrenching events, that have occurred in those last six years and while I share an occasional bit of this life in my knitting store, I found there are so many others facing similar life styles. My hope is that this blog is a great place to share, to vent, to ask for help and seek answers. So I ask you to take a bite out of this sandwiched life and laugh and cry with me, won’t you?
I still need a name but since many of you know me from my knitting store, we will start here…..