The weather is starting to change, and my thoughts are turning to the next season – and the next – as I plan (or worry) about what happens next.
I wrote before about how I have found Companions to watch over dad when I am away for more than a week or two. (See “Companions as a Support System for Caregivers“. ) For the past two years I have had 3 wonderful women who visited dad weekly and reported back to me about how he was doing and what they did together. This brought me peace of mind and allowed me to enjoy my vacation time away.
Last week I decided it was time to re-contact dad’s companions and confirm that they will be available to visit him again this year (actually early in 2014). I sent an email to his 3 companions, even though I already knew that one was planning to move out-of-state.
I heard back quickly from two of them. The companion who will be moving would still like to continue to visit dad until she moves as she doesn’t know when that will be. I said that sounded good to me as dad knows her and enjoys her visits.
The retired nurse responded that she will be taking a short vacation during the time I am away but otherwise would be available to visit dad. Again, I said that would be good as I have come to depend on her and her professional experience for watching over dad. When there is an epidemic of some type going through dad’s building, I can count on her to visit and assess dad’s condition independently of the staff at the assisted living facility. This gives me confidence that he is still OK, even though the residents may be quarantined to stay in their rooms.
The third companion has not responded yet. I left her a telephone message a week after I sent the email and I still have not heard from her. I think she must be on vacation, but I have to continue my plans around her. I hope she will still be available, but if not, I have made plans to add a 4th companion to the mix.
The fourth companion is a woman who has done some eldercare in my community and in other congregate living situations. Her name and telephone number were given to me by a friend and I spoke with her last week.
We spoke on the phone awhile and determined that she would be able to visit dad weekly and willing to fill in on the day when no one else is coming. I told all three companions that I will get back to them in December to re-evaluate dad’s condition and determine what days they might be seeing dad.
At this point I am confident that I will have dad’s needs covered with 3 or 4 experienced companions. It will be nice if his other companion gets back to me, but if not, I feel that I have added a new person who will be able to fill in the gaps.
Dad continues to do fairly well, though sometimes I worry about his moods. He tends to be very quiet and never complains. Still, lately when I ask what he is doing, he says he is “just moping around”. The activities leader and my son both think dad just means the same as when he says he is “just resting”. But I wonder if dad isn’t a bit lonely or depressed. I haven’t seen him with his lady friend as often as a few weeks ago, though I am fairly sure she is still around.
And to be honest, even ten years ago when mom was alive and they lived together, dad still did the same thing he is doing now. He would spend much of his day just sitting in his recliner without seeming to be doing any reading or watching television or anything. Still mom was there. And now I know he still misses her a lot.
But I have to accept the fact that I am doing as much as I can and dad is not really complaining. He is two years older than he was when I first brought him to this community and his health and moods seem much better than they were then.
I suppose I am going to worry (or plan) no matter what is happening, so I should just relax and move forward knowing that dad is taken care of. I visit dad almost every other day. Sometimes he is at an activity and I have to find him, and other times he is sitting in his room or in the lounge. He looks forward to going out to eat on a regular basis and that is what we will do again tomorrow.
So we move forward – taking each day one at a time while planning for the near future.