When my father was in the hospital he was very confused most of the time. My daughter, an RN, BSN, explained to us that Elderly + Infection = Confusion. It was devastating to see my dad this way. He knew he was out of it at certain points, making it even more tragic. About two weeks into his hospitalization we had some glimmer of hope as he seemed to shake the confusion and recognize us as the pneumonia temporarily eased.
One afternoon he was sitting up in his chair listening to John Coltrane with his eyes closed. I walked in and said, “Hi Dad!” He responded with, “Hi, Pal.” I knelt at his side and said, “Can I ask you a question.” He said, “Not right now.” I honored this and never did get my question answered.
My question was: Are you having to coach mom with more than just directions? From the moment dad entered the hospital, mom’s functioning plummeted: Socially, practically, her memory seemed to get much worse, I had her neighbors from Island calling me, not to mention friends of hers e-mail from around the country and the world, concerned about her.
We can only surmise that he was, despite his failing health, guiding her in most everything. Hindsight and conversations with their friends reveal he must have been helping her with or solely attending to:
- Directions – Geographically while driving.
- Directions – Within buildings she’s frequented for years.
- Keeping their calendar.
- Names of family and friends.
- Probably keeping systems going at their Island home that no one who is legally blind should be.
- Making sure pipes didn’t freeze.
- Keeping cleaning supplies/poisons out of food prep areas.
- Running the two differing cable systems at the houses.
It wasn’t until he was admitted to the hospital and then after his passing that she herself took such a dive. Her partner in crime, her coach, her rock, her stability was gone. Her heart lays in shards on the floor and she is still looking for dad, literally.