"Growing Older Pains!"

Sitting here this evening trying to watch the Kings game. They lead the series 3-0 and are on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in three years. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to give the game my full attention. I’ve got my dad on my mind. We’re supposed to be going camping this Father’s Day weekend which creates a problem with his care. He lives with us and that sometimes make getting away a bit difficult. Let me tell you, if you’ve got parents who are in the late 70’s or 80’s you had better start thinking about how you’re going to deal with their daily care because, believe me, the day will come when they can no longer take tend for themselves and that responsibility will be all yours!

papa and john 2009I’ve gotta tell you elder care is no easy task. I know first hand. My 90 year old dad has been living with my wife and I for over two and a half years now. We are fortunate, as is he, that he is mentally sound and exhibits no signs of Alzeihmer’s or dementia. Even so caring for him is still difficult. Fortunately I’m married to a woman who should be the patron saint of elder care. She cares for them and shares her energy and positive outlook with them. She’s like the ultimate life cheerleader! I must say she’s does an incredible job of caring for my dad. There isn’t anything she isn’t willing to do to make sure he’s fed, clean and comfortable.

I on the other hand have a tough time dealing with some of my dad’s needs. I feel awkward and uncomfortable, but Raylene just jumps right in and takes care of business. I don’t know how she does it. I suppose her experience in caring for her own parents helped. She cared for her mom who suffered with pancreatic cancer and her dad who had dementia for several years. She’s definitely no stranger to care-giving. She’s a natural. She also does care-giving through her volunteer work with the American Cancer Society where she provides support for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are receiving similar treatment and procedures as what she herself went through in her battle with breast cancer. Believe me she takes her job very seriously and goes above and beyond being an advocate and adviser to these women. Although not part of her job description Raylene befriends these women, visiting them and taking them books and other materials to aid them on their journey. At times she also goes to doctor appointments or treatments with them so they will not be alone. Yeah She really cares and it shows.

As busy as she is she also finds the time to be a friend to my elderly aunt and to a 92 year old women she met on the street. And I mean that literally. She met Rose several years ago as Rose was laying in the street waiting for paramedics. She had taken a bad fall from the curb and although others had already stopped to assist Rose and help was on the way, Raylene felt compelled to pull over and offer aid.  She knelt beside Rose and talked to her and kept her company until help arrived. They have been good friends ever since.

Yeah she’s a hell of a care-giver. She can deal with anything. I wish I could say the same, but I can’t, at least not yet. Perhaps circumstances will dictate and the day will come when I will be forced to just jump in and take care of business no matter how unpleasant. I love my dad but I’m just not there yet. Hell some days I can’t even get passed the smells. There have been times when my dad accidentally knocks over his pee bottle and his room reeks of urine, an odor that eventually spreads to much of the house. Not a very pleasant experience. Even after a thorough cleaning the room smells. It reminds me of walking into a convalescent home where the common smells are urine and the ammonia they used to clean and sanitize. I could have never imagined my own home would smell the same way someday, and at times it does. Sorry dad, maybe I just have a very sensitive nose. And God knows someday I may be 90 too!

Right now all I can say is “Thank You Raylene for all you do!” Your care-giving skills are a blessing. You’re doing an incredible job of taking care of Pops! Oh I help when I can, but we both know that you handle the brunt of the load. I don’t know how my dad would get along without you. We’d be lost without your help. I’m sure my dad appreciates it even more than I do.

Just a thought…




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