As I mentioned in an earlier post, while I am away on vacation, paid companions are visiting dad on a regular basis. These are the same companions that visited dad last year and they are getting to know each other better and feel comfortable together.
Two of the companions are professional companions who have cared for many other elderly people in the past, and even currently care for several others. They have developed their own ways of keeping the elderly occupied and active. One takes dad for walks around his assisted living facility. This fascinates me as I can’t really get dad to walk unless we are on the way to lunch or an outing. But companion number 1 has convinced him to walk around the square just for the exercise and she gets him talking while they walk.
This week I learned that another companion can get dad to take part in a more in-depth conversation by playing cards with him. I was amazed. I have known dad all my life and I have never seen him play cards at all except solitaire on the computer.
Mom used to play cards with us a lot and so did my paternal grandfather. She also used to go out with friends to play cards. But in all those years, I had never seen dad play cards and just presumed that was something he “didn’t do”.
When I spoke to dad on the telephone I asked him about playing cards with his companion. I asked him what card game they play. He said “rummy”. I told him I didn’t know he played cards. Oh, he said: “It has been a long time since I played cards.”
I emailed my son to tell him this news. Often my son also has trouble keeping dad engaged in a conversation. I said he should bring a deck of cards and see if grandpa will play cards with him. I will see how that works out tomorrow.
The third companion is a retired nurse. She is more laid back in her approach to dad and talks to him wherever he is – in his room or in the lounge. She sometimes brings coffee knowing he may just be waking up when she gets there.
This reminded me that I don’t know my dad as well as I thought I did. He worked when we were kids and didn’t really “play” with us kids when he got home. He was a typical dad of the 1950’s in that he just had dinner, read the paper, watched television and worked in his downstairs wood working shop. Fathers didn’t play with the kids in those days.
A stranger doesn’t have any pre-conceived ideas about what dad does and doesn’t do. She just asks the right questions and learns new things about dad. I think maybe I should approach dad in a new way too and not assume I already know all about him.
I am very lucky to have 3 dependable companions to visit dad while I am away. In addition to keeping me informed on how he is doing, they are engaging him in new activities that I had never thought about.