Saturday, February 21, 2009....
Today's medical advances and technologies have extended the fountain of youth for many people. Face lifts, pacemakers and organ replacements have helped assist extend a person's life span. However, I wonder is this a good thing?
Has modern science taken in consideration Alzheimer's? Crashing financial markets against rising medical costs? Has it taken in consideration how awkward it is for the child to now be the parent; how hard it is for the parent to accept this?
I am the youngest of five. My parents practiced the college rhythm method and most of my friends with grandparents are at the same age of my parents.
For the past several years, we have watched my mom's sanity diminish. Last February, we placed her in a good nursing home. My parents purchase Long Term Care insurance (LTC) when it was unheard of, however, in their late 70's, opted out of the Cost-of-Living benefit.
We've watched my parents' nest egg dwindle in this horrible economic market, but what I wasn't prepared for was having talks with dad.
Talks about boundaries that parents teach children are now happening, but reverse. Initially, I had the first talk with dad. He was innocent and although he had the best intentions, perceptions are what count in a nursing home. I explained that he could not offer candy to other patients, nor could he enter the room of another Alzheimer's patient without her family member or a nurse in the room.
Although he was being kindhearted by saying hello and offering candy, rules and regulations perceived there to be some wrong doings. The police were called and a report was sent to the State. My father apologized and signed papers acknowledging everything.
I know and love my father. I know he is not a man that would take sexual advantage of another person, but if a strange man entered my mother's room, I would want the nursing home to take the same precautions.
My father promised to me and the Administrator he would not do this again. However, it is sometimes hard to change what is hard-wired into your personality. Apparently, he did the same thing this past Wednesday and my sister received the call from the nursing home. However, he is past the warning stage and not allowed in without supervision.
My sister pleaded with the home to let him visit my mom in the lobby where there is staff. They seemed open to the idea, but we won't know till Tuesday after a meeting at the nursing home.
In the meantime, my two sisters and I went to see my dad today. We discussed the gravity of the issue and I started the conversation. I admit. I was disappointed that he dismissed the gravity of the situation when I first had the talk with him. Trust me, when the nursing home's administrator calls you at 10:30 p.m. to discuss your dad's behavior, explain police charges were filed, you DON'T sleep.
You stay up and figure out the best way to reprimand, but respect the parent that raised you. It is extremely awkward. I decided the best way was to put the past behind and discuss his behavior moving forward.
We took this same approach today, but it was hard on him. He had already met with several members of the staff at the home yesterday and understands that he can't just show up to see mom. He was visibly upset and for a man that has always been a rock, it was hard to see this.
We are unsure of what will happen. We hope that he is permitted to go on his own to see mom and sit in the lobby. However, if he isn't, his visits will now be weekly. He will have to submit to the schedules of my sister and me to see her.
It is a shame that an 87 year old man is being given rules a parent would give a child. Soon enough, he'll won't be able to drive and wonder do people really understand that extending one's life with modern miracles isn't necessarily the best thing when you lose your basic freedoms.