Dad Called Today
That’s the title of the memoir I am writing. “Dad Called Today” it started out with me wanting to share the daily phone calls between dad and myself. Phone calls that made me smile and laugh. Some that made me sigh or cry. While others had me banging my head on the table. But somehow, somewhere along the way, dad developed dementia. And more than likely, Lewy Body Dementia.
(The other day I heard on the news that Robin William’s widow wrote an essay for a neurology journal about Lewy Body Disease and you can read it here, http://www.neurology.org/content/87/13/1308.full )
Dementia is a debilitating disease of the mind. Most people associate it with forgetfulness, but there is way more to it than that. Dementia patients might get confused and have a hard time focusing. They get agitated and angry. They might yell, scream, cuss, and some get violent. They can have hallucinations. Many nights they act out bad dreams, hitting, kicking, moaning and yelling during sleep. But underneath all of that, they have their own personalities; Years in the making. So, dealing with a dementia patient can be hard. There are medications that can be prescribed, but even then they can still have outbursts.
They need help. But, putting them in a convalescent home isn’t always the right answer.
Case in point: Thursday morning, Dad woke up screaming that he couldn’t breathe. Dad also has congestive heart failure. The caregiver gave him a breathing treatment, called me, and then called 9-1-1. The paramedics were told that he had dementia and were given his medication list. When I arrived at the hospital, I told them about his dementia. About an hour after my sister arrived the doctor decided to admit dad. I had Joyce put a mark next to the three medications that dad takes for his dementia and told her to make sure the nurses made a copy of the list and that they needed to be aware of his condition. Ten thirty that evening I got a call saying that dad wanted to talk to his wife so I called the caregiver who was with Jinny and gave her the message. Due to Jinny’s limited speech and dad’s hard of hearing, the phone call did not go well. Dad started yelling and cussing and he threw the phone at the nurse. Jinny’s caregiver called me and the hospital called Joyce. They told Joyce that they were calling security. Joyce asked them, wasn’t dad given his meds? And the nurse replied, “What meds?”
Dad is 92 years old. He was weak and couldn’t even get out of bed and yet they put him in restraints like a common criminal! And the nurse he had didn’t even know that he has dementia and on top of everything else she didn’t know how to deal with the situation. This is a hospital where 80% of their patients are elderly. Doctors and nurses are supposed to be professional people and yet…There’s more, much more for me to tell, but it will have to wait for another day. I need to get ready to go visit dad.
Till then; HUGS!