Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Find Myself Smiling Less

It has been a hard year and a half. Dad's health was failing last year while he was trying to take care of mom. She had the misfortune of having a stroke during hip replacement surgery. She never was able to come back to any semi-normal semblance of life. There was substantial damage from the stroke to the speech center, physical instability, incontinence, and vascular damage that brought progressive dementia. I had hired in-home care to assist for four hours in the morning and evening. Dad died 9/27/10 at 87 years old. Mom could not be home alone so the in-home care went to 24/7. This brought fees of $14,400.00 plus per month. It was not sustainable so mom went to an elder care facility that ran about $4,000.00 per month.

I took over all finances, got a financial advisor, got an attorney, took care of all dad's death requirements for mom, moved mom to eldercare, held an estate sale, donated what was left, created a trust, moved funds into in the trust, moved the house into the trust, and applied for survivor VA benefits for mom. It was what seemed to be never ending chores.

I swear that with mom's dementia, she would forget dad passed and then rediscover the event. Not good. She hated the care facility. Every time I would visit started with about a half hour of I hate it here, you can take care of me, dad took care of me, and on. I would tell her that she needed to stop this so that we could visit. The damage to the brain's speech center was enough that there was never more that a word a two that might or might not be the correct words. You were always try to guess what she was trying to say often to find out that it was nonsensical.

As the dementia progressed, she always called me by her deceased brother's name and insisted that I could not be her son as I was too old. Her memory was going off in strange directions but she most certainly did remember who was responsible for putting her in elder care.

Mom started to refuse medications in July including her blood thinner. She had a very mild heart attack toward the end of July. Her doctor did not seem to be too concerned about it and was going to release later in the week. The doctor asked about bringing in hospice at the elder care facility. OK - explain to me why you aren't concerned about the heart attack but you are talking about hospice now? I never did get her doctor to return calls after that. I have gotten to hate the medical profession. It seems that it is some great favor being bequeathed to you for them to tell you anything. No wonder doctors make the worst patients as they know how they have treated people all along.

The social worker from the hospital called me and wanted to know which hospice I wanted to use. I told here that I was unaware of why we are talking about hospice. The social worker can't tell you anything medical as it is not their place to do so. This is understandable. I know enough about hospice that there is no harm in start/stopping it there are only restrictions on the continuous length of care so I told them to set up with a hospice group.

Finally, hospice calls and want to know if I want them to get to work or send mom for treatment. Treatment for what? Endocarditus, as mom has a systemic bacterial infection that has hit the membrane of the heart. Why the heck couldn't mom's doctor have communicated this? The chances of success for the treatment were very low. I told the hospice to start their care as it seemed the least damaging to mom at the time. That evening we agonized over the decision of treatment or not. I felt like I was signing mom's death warrant if I said no to treatment. I decided that the discussion should be based on our own desires if you or I were in the same situation. Both my wife and I decided that if either of us were in the same position to go to hospice and let go. I did not have to make the final decision for mom. She died quietly in her sleep that night on 8/2/2011. I was the baby of the family and now I am it. My brother passed in 2000, dad in 2010 and now mom is gone.

I am still trying to sell the house from within the trust and things are not moving. there is a mortgage on the house. It is not upside down but it is a drain on what little money is left in the trust. I still have some of mom's accounts etc to close out. The chores still continue. I would not say I am depressed just that I don't smile as much.

It is fortunate that I have an outstanding wife and daughters. Both girls are in college and doing well. I am looking forward to the Masonic Lodge to start in September (we take a couple of months off in the summer), dove season is coming, there are a variety of pistol shoots, and I did get drawn for white tail deer in November. There is a lot to look forward to but it is still difficult at times.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Damn, Don. I know it's been hard. Best wishes for you, man.