Today is a good place to be.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Fathers Day-- Evening Edition!

Happy Fathers Day Daddy! 
We adopted a 17 year old!  Not really.... Jacob is staying with us for a few weeks while he is tying up loose ends in Oregon and his family has already moved up to Idaho.  We LOVE having him with us-- he is a big brother to our kids!

No Fathers Day would be complete without a walk in the park-- we headed up to Cooper Mountain Nature Park and did just that!  After a bit of playing of course...

Conser Family Chain

We do love you... even if we don't necessarily look like it....

Be your own beautiful!

Happy Fathers Day!

We celebrated Fathers Day on Saturday at Rosewood with Dad.  The home had a very nice BBQ that were all able to attend and enjoy.  It was nice.  Dad was happy to see us, but really wanted to go home with us.  He is adjusting to his new digs and seems to be resigning himself to life as it is.  He is looking great and seems to be in good spirits.

We Love You So MUCH Dad!

Friday, June 15, 2012



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Journey to Rosewood

Dad is finally at home in Rosewood Specialty Care.  We had quite the journey to get him at home here.  We started out trying to get him settled at Avamere at Bethany, however it wasn't working for him.  He only lasted there about 12 hours.  It was a hard 12 hours.

I worked that morning and got off at 10AM, and headed over to my parents.  My Mom and I took Dad on a "drive" and our drive ended up at Avamere where Amy and Richard were waiting for us.  Amy and I had taken him to lunch there the week before, which he didn't remember, and I think he was dubious something was up.  We sat down and listened to "Music with Helen" and when that was over we wandered down to the "game room" that had a couple of parakeets in it(I LOVE birds!  I was excited to see them!).  We went out to the garden and sat down for a bit, and then went back into the game room and waited for lunch.

During lunch we meet several more people on the staff.  Dad was beginning to realize what was going on I think.  Mom excused herself to go to an appointment and he was not happy about her leaving without him.  But we finished lunch and I told him I really wanted him to see one last room.  The day before Mom, Beth and Mar had set up his bedroom and had done an amazing job.  I had gone over to help them out(even though there was nothing for me to do, it felt good for me to be there with them) and I remember sitting in his chair and starting to get teary thinking this could be his last room.  The room was very bright and peaceful.  Overall I felt good about the place.

So, after lunch we headed to his room, he looked around and the look on his face was confusion mixed with uncertainty.  He recognized almost everything in here!  And it looked like a bedroom.  But he sure as heck wasn't going to stay here.  We turned on Perry Mason and he settled in his char.  He kept asking about Mom.  She left her "knitting bag" that we told him was proof she was coming back.  He kept asking when we, as in all of us including him, would leave.  We just redirected him each time.

After Perry it was time to go.  Amy and I left.  Richard held back and explained the situation.  At this time he was feeling the effects of the drugs we had given him before we left the house to calm him down, and he didn't get up to follow us.  It was odd to leave him.  Amy  likened it to leaving a child at sleep-away camp.  I haven't done that yet, but it did kind of feel like the first day of kindergarten.  Amy and Richard took me over to Mom's and we chatted with her a bit.  They left and Mom and I talked for a bit, then I left.

I had been smart and inspired to ask Jeremy's Mom Sue to come up the day before so I could be free to come and go as I needed to.  She was happy to help, and my kids were happy to have her with us.  It was nice to have her here so I didn't have to worry about the time.  She hasn't lived through my exact situation, but has had her share of grief with aging parents and dementia and understands how hard this can be.

Before I left my Mom's house, Avamere called with some concern that they hadn't received Dad's medication order from their pharmacy and could we please send in his meds from home?  I told mom I could take them in because its sort of on my way home.  They told us to take them to the main entrance.  When I got to the main entrance, the person there told me to go ahead and take them down to the memory care unit.  When I got there, Dad was at the door waiting for me. This is when I learned the term:  Exit Seeker.  This is just like Drug Seeker, only looking to get out-- not looking for drugs.

He was so happy to see me.  It was like all his prayers had been answered and someone had come back for him.  He was sure I was there to take him home.  I just couldn't leave him, I felt like I needed to come in and be with him.  There was some guy singing and playing piano.  It was a bit obnoxious if you asked me.  I would have wanted to leave too.  But I tried to get Dad to sit down and listen.  The caregiver keeping an eye on him told me he had wet himself and she hadn't been able to change him.  I am not sure if he had refused or just ignored her trying to help him, so I took him back to his room and helped him change.  He was uncomfortable with my helping him, but I just acted normal as if a daughter changing her fathers diaper was completely normal and he went with it.  This is another blessing of my working in Elder Care-- I was completely prepared for this situation.  An odd thing we ran into was my Mom had it in the contract that the home would provide depends, and the caregiver had no such knowledge, so we had to wait for that to get worked out.  Thankfully not to long.

After he was changed I tried to engage him in some outdoor activities- they were planting mums outdoors and we joined them.  Dad sure was a trooper, he DID NOT want to be there and he DID NOT want to be planting those plants, but he totally humored me and would put one down exactly where I suggested.  He wouldn't do anything else like dig the hole or plant the plant in.  I laughed a bit on the inside.  It felt like a child begrudgingly doing their chores.  While outside, he realized there was a gate and was trying to open it.  It was secure and he could not open it from inside the yard.  There was a lot of agitation building inside him.  I was at a loss as to what to do.  I didn't feel like I could just ditch him, but I knew my being there was hard on him.  My being there was a reminder that he needed to get out.  My being there was a means to his getting out.  I realized while we were outside he had another accident.  Those depends weren't working right or something, so I was able to get him back to his room and get him cleaned up again.  I was able to sit him down in his chair this time and started to read to him.  He noticed his scriptures next to his bed(His name is engraved on the front cover), and he was worried about why they were here and worried they might be left behind, so he didn't put them down again. 

I pulled out one of his all time favorite authors books:  Louis L'Amour.  I joked with him that he was going to make me read a western after all this time!  I started reading it to him.  It was kind of funny, he wanted to interrupt me to ask when we were going to leave, but he didn't want to be rude.  Throughout the whole time I was there he kept saying he would just go sit in my car and wait for me, like this whole day was my idea of fun.  He would ask when Mom was coming back and I told him if he left with me, he would miss her.  Finally one of the higher up employees(non-caregiver) came in and took over the reading part and told me to flee.  I had been there over an hour and half by then.  Dad got up and followed me.  His caregiver happened to be walking down the hall and she stopped him by engaging him in conversation and I was able to leave without him being at my back.  But it felt wrong.  It felt bad leaving him that way.  I wept a little on the way home.

We were all on edge.  There were issues with his medications still.  That was finally worked out.  By about 9PM we all felt good-- there had been no phone calls from Avamere, so he must be doing OK.  But Mom got a call around 10:00.  Dad had been causing some shenanigans.  I guess he was getting some of the other residents involved in helping him escape and had almost broken the door down.  He was successful at least one in actually getting out of the memory care unit.  Avamere just felt that they couldn't keep him anymore.  So they called an ambulance to take him to St. Vincents Psych Ward.  Mom, Beth, Amy and Richard met him there.

He was happy to be there.  His goal of getting out of Avamere was succeeded.  The people at St. V's agreed he was confused, but didn't see that he was a real problem.  Avamere advised strongly that Mom see to it that they NOT pump him up full of drugs and take him back because his behaviors would return once he got back.  Mom was good at stating his case, and it helped to have Richard there to give the specifics(when he talks he really sounds like he knows what he is talking about!)  Of course, after a few hours the happiness of getting out of the home wore off, and he started wondering when he was going home.  The agitation started to set in.  I guess they finally got him in his room around 3 AM.  To say I didn't sleep well that night is an understatement.  I doubt anyone in our family did.

St. V's assigned a social worker to his case and after talking with family they realized what was up and they started working on figuring out meds.  We were hoping to get him sent to a specific psychiatric hospital that dealt with geriatric patients, but it turns out Dad's Medicaid didn't cover that one.  That was disappointing.  Avamere also decided they did not want Dad back, which was very disappointing.  They had assured us he would be welcome back there.  They had assured us they knew how to handle residents who were reluctant to stay.  We were skeptical, but somehow allowed their reassurances to cause us to believe them.  That was too bad.

Dad was very agitated at the hospital.  We were advised not to visit.  Not only would that possibly agitate him, the way they have to drug him to figure out how to medicate him for the best can be difficult for family to see.  So, I went a week without talking to or seeing my Dad.  I missed him.  The grief was odd.  It wasn't like we lost him.  It wasn't like he was gone.  But he was suffering in a different way, and that was painful to think about.  Mom called in to see how he was daily and several times a day.  She sent out daily e-mail updates.  The whole process was exhausting for her.  And she really missed him.

Finally on Friday I couldn't stand it anymore and Jeremy and I had our date night at St. V's.  He was so happy to see us.  He kept asking when he could go home, I kept telling him as soon as the Doctors told us it was OK.  He seemed pretty OK. I talked to the social worker earlier that day and she was worried he was over medicated and was working on that.  That night he seemed his normal self, just obsessing on going home instead of what to watch on TV or if he needed to take the trash out.  They had little alarms set up on his bed and his chair, so when he would get up they would be notified and he couldn't escape.  He had been We had to escape by lieing to him.  Jeremy got him some ice cream and took his leave.  I left a bit later and told him I was going to talk to the doctor.  Again, it was very hard to leave.  During our visit he mentioned having just arrived at this place.  And I really hope he doesn't remember being there as long as he was.

Since Avamere wouldn't consider taking him back, Mom had to look into other places to take Dad.  Being on Medicaid, his options are fewer than if he paying privately.  Mom went back to Rosewood, which happened to be the first place we looked at.  I remembered touring it with Mom several months ago and it seemed a little depressing.  But, looking back, all of these places are a bit on the depressing side.  It is kind of the nature of the place.  But going back to it, relating her experiences just having gone through what we went through, Mom felt better about it.

I felt strongly the next morning that Mom needed to see Dad at the hospital.  So, after work I called her and asked her if she would like to go with me up to see him, and she decided she would.  She was out at Rosewood finishing up his room, so I went over there to meet up with her and she his new place.  His room was very comfortable and my mom and sisters did another amazing job getting things decorated.   I met a few of the other residents and had a very good feel about this place, however I was apprehensive because they claimed they could handle him-- much like Avamere claimed they could too. 

We headed up to the hospital, and I think it did her good.  Dad was much more groggy Saturday Morning than he had been the night before.  He didn't remember my being there.  He was happy to see us.  When we talked about him going home I mentioned all the root beer waiting for him and Mom said they boys were still drinking it and he got the funniest look on his face-- his little mock concerned face he gets.  It made us laugh.  Mom felt good seeing him.  She told me it made her feel good that she could visit him and not cause him more harm than good.  That simply broke my heart.  Her fear has always been she can't take good enough care of him-- now that he is in a home so we can make sure he is taken good care of, she is afraid she will cause him distress.  What a painful, emotional process for her to be on.  And on top of it all, Dad will always make comments on how she doesn't want him around anymore.  Which isn't true, but still hurts to hear him say it.

Finally on Monday they decided they could move him over to Rosewood.  I think we held our breathes until the next morning when he did indeed last the entire night!  I've been into see him and he was again very curious about when he will get to go home.  He wants to make sure all of his "things" that are on the wall and in the room will get back home too-- he definitely doesn't want to leave anything there.  We tell him he can come home when the doctors say its OK.  Its hard to see him this way, but its important to be there for him. 

I wish I could be with him always to comfort him and take care of him.  However, I have a life I have to live that is very important.  I have three amazing children that need me and my attention.  I have a husband who is very patient with me and understanding of my needs, but still requires me to nurture our relationship.  My responsibilities to my children and my husband are very sacred and special.  I'm sad for my Dad.  I'm lonely for him, yet I know I can only do my best to be there for him, while I do my best to be there for my own family.  I think that would please him the most.