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 - Kafkaesque


Lawyer, Fragrance Critic, GSD Obsessive, Progressive.

American Elder Care (Nightmare) Chronicles

The last 10+ days have been rough in my #ElderCare #caretaker duties.

The 10-day account below is: 1) predominantly for all the others like me so that they know, WHAT YOU'RE GOING THROUGH (even if you don't talk about it publicly), you're not alone; and 2) to a much, much lesser extent, for those not in our shoes to know just what it's like to take care of the elderly in America if you do not have generous resources for the very necessary daily private nursing care.

My last 10+ days (alongside my sister, bless her), have involved:

DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) papers and getting a notary; my pig-headed, FIERCELY independent father having many falls on the ground daily, sometimes a minimum of 2 daily, sometimes 3 or 4, as he insists on trying to navigate 1.5 ft to the bedside commode or to use a proper bathroom; absolutely obturate, cantankerous refusal to give up that independence and rely on personal sanitary care instead; repeated EMT 911 calls when hospice wasn't available on the weekend or 12:23 a.m., ot 3 a.m. or 5 a.m. or 7 a.m. or 9 a.m. in the morning to send a nurse over to help; getting a hospital bed and rearranging all the furniture in my parents' room to fit it (my back is now absolutely broken); my father's highly negative response to said bed; his fall after trying to clamber over the hospital bed rails to get free ("I thought hospice was supposed to help me, not put me in hell!); further terrible response times from the supposedly top-rated hospice service in the area after calls about his falls; and now the endless bureaucracy, yet again, to change to a new hospice service.

But wait, there is more:

mountains of soiled linens that take forever to wash on the ultra hot Sanitary cycle; buying 4 additional, much larger linen sets that won't shrink in the ultra-hot sanitary cycle; having fights every few hours about using the diapers instead of falling on the way to the (by-his-bed) commode, lest he break his hip (which would not be fixed as he's not a surgical candidate); him refusing; and him refusing practically everything.

Not done yet, actually. There is more, stuff that every caretaker of the elderly will realize:

Spending a fortune on different adult diapers and/or underwear; having them leak or fit poorly; having the patient refuse to have his dignity violated by having anyone other than a professional nurse, nurses aude, or mother put them on; my mother not being able to put them on due to dementia; the nurse's aide who does this diaper stuff coming for only 45 minutes at a time, 3 times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri.) under the new Medicare rules; needing 3 family members to scoot my Papa up the non-medical bed so he can eat without choking; hearing him absolutely SHRIEK from pain when falling back upon mere (soft) pillows; watching him eat an absolute maximum of 3 small spoons of food, despite being on Marinol to increase appetite and reduce nausea. yet another daily undoing of the bed in order to wash soiled things in 3 or 4 large cycles in the sanitary mode and make it up again with fresh linens, bed pads, and everything else; and....

And then everything restarts. Again and again.

On the really, REALLY positive side, we've discovered that the reason my father had lost lucidity, was hallucinating and paranoid, lost mobility in his legs, a s was having convulsive shaking at times was a medication called Marinol that is basically prescription THC designed to increase appetite, reduce nausea, reduce pain, and increase mobility. So basically, it had the 100% opposite effect in every level on my father.

Over a month of this, prescribed twice a day... no wonder he was hallucinating Chinese guards in the closet or German guards by his roadside accident (aka, one of his falls from bed necessitating a 911 call for burly paramedics at 3:15 a.m. when hospice wouldn't send anyone and I couldn't lift him up solo from the floor).

Getting just 8 hours of private daily nursing care from nurses aides would cost $4300, which I don't have on top of all the other bills. And Medicare won't send 7 days a week nursing, for any amount of time, until my father's final days or week.

I will spare you another rant about America's #ElderCare #Healthcare system, #Medicare limitations, or #MedicalCosts

My caretaker accounts are absolutely limited to my, our, my dad's personal circumstances. In NO WAY do I pretend, claim, or try to speak for anyone else's specifics, journey, or difficulties.

However... I think some or many of my experiences are illustrative of what many of us go through in America when trying to care for a failing or ailing elderly loved one. I just happen to be a particularly verbose, candid, and/or communicative person who is willing to write a 1000 words on it after having a MUCH deserved glass of Ardbeg scotch.

To those of you who aren't Gen X or who aren't taking care of a sick parent, partner, sibling, friend, or close one with painfully limited resources, thank you for your patience reading.

To the young ones out there, I hope to the German Shepherd Gods that you have an easier time of it when or if it's your turn. At the very least, let's hope that the GOP doesn't gut what limited resources Medicare has right now.

#Healthcare #ElderCare

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