no false teeth, he says, and lately refuses to wear them, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
no false teeth, he says, and lately refuses to wear them, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
The doctor was on duty the night my father died, and all she could say was, "So many times I thought he wouldn't make it."
He had a strong will to live. If he'd only believed everyone that life sober could be better than life drunk, he'd have had a lot more years of pleasure from being alive.
The one good thing about nursing homes: no booze.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
He was on the Alzheimer's floor - a terrific facility for the most part. He fell and broke a hip, then needed to go to rehab after the surgery. He wasn't well enough to return to the Hyatt and lived in nursing homes until he died.
My dad and Mrs. Ascher ate together. He was always yelling at her ("Speak up! I can't hear you" "What in the hell are you talking about!?!") and she loved it. She told me she loved it. She had a crush on my father.
Mrs. Ascher hated when I visited - she was jealous. She'd tell me, "Go home. Get out of here! Leave us alone!"
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Three years after this my father died. They never did get his diet straightened out; it only became more challenging because he couldn't wear false teeth. Too much bone loss in his jaws for the dentures to stay in.
The chewing problem led to a swallowing problem, which meant he was even more limited in what he could eat. It was just as easy to give him mashed potatoes all the time, regardless of what was on the menu.
I don't blame the dietician. Her hands were tied by the kitchen staff who ignored the slips, and there was nothing she could do.
My father usually weighed in the 140s, then 130s, and by the time he died, he weighed in the 80s. At various points he was losing 10 pounds a month.
The doodles on the paper table cloth are his entertainment while waiting for dinner.
Monday, May 14, 2012
By the time my father was in nursing homes, his dementia prevented him from reading. He could write until nearly the end, but he couldn't comprehend more than a few words at a time.
Still, I would bring the NY Times each visit, and he'd sit and read it just as though he was really reading it. If I didn't have a current Times, I'd bring an old one, and that was fine with him.
I usually offered a few sections of the NY Times to other residents if they were close by. A few happily took a section and "read" just as my father did.
The staff never gave the residents magazines or newspapers. If I left them for my father, they were untouched, out of his reach.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
I was limited in what I could get in a pictures - the people in the background had to be out of focus (and sometimes I was asked to prove it). No pictures of staff or residents in the nursing home.
When I first got a camera I naively took pictures of several residents on my father's floor. I got in a lot of trouble - the floor staff called administration who almost jumped me.
I had to promise I'd never take pictures of residents again and convince them to believe me.
A shame....the residents loved having their pictures taken.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
It looks good. Nursing homes always look a lot better from the outside. I've never met anyone who's had good experience with a relative being in a nursing home.
Given what the aides are paid and the ratio of staff to patient, there's no way on earth the care could be even acceptable, much less good.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
I don't know which photos I've put on the blog already. One day I'll go through and eliminate the duplicates.
I like this one. Taken a year ago, during the time my father had his hands crossed on his chest all the time. That stopped.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
My father was diagnosed 30-days-or-less-to-live in December 2010. So he qualified for free hospice care in the nursing home.
The hospice staff provided music therapy, art therapy (which stopped abruptly because he asked the therapist to take her clothes off and pose for him), a rabbi with whom he could chat in Yiddish, a nurse who would check on his overall health, and pet therapy.
And best of all, a private aide four hours a day, five days a week, who would take him to the lobby or outside if the sun was shining.
They didn't stop hospice even though my father lived for 14 months after he was pronounced almost dead.
His "illness" was that he was starving, but they refused to believe me (or the dietician). He didn't have any chronic diseases.
Friday, March 30, 2012
A week before he died....My father did a few things all his life - one is that he read. He lost the ability to actually read, but never the ability to look as if he was reading.
I had a notebook with me that evening. He picked it up and starting "reading," appearing to get pleasure from it. He could read nothing. But his pleasure seemed to be real.
Monday, March 19, 2012
This is when my father was still at the Fairfield, which was a wonderful nursing home in many ways.
It was sold to a proprietary company, so I moved my dad to the Hebrew Home, fearing that the new management would change policies.
About the same time as the picture just before this one.
Unless I had my point-and-shoot, we were limited to the pictures of us both. My rangefinder was hard for other people to focus and use.
Now I wish we had more pictures of both of us.
I must've been about 2 years old, which puts my father at 31 years old. That sounds so young. I've always thought of my father as being "old."
I enjoy looking at these old pictures, but even more I enjoy looking at the ones I remember taking.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Taken a bit more than two years ago, 12/2010. I think about my father and miss him. I like coming upon photographs I didn't remember, but now that I look at it I remember taking it. My memories with my father are mostly taking pictures and playing cards...and searching for sunshine for my father to sit in
Monday, February 20, 2012
Even the staff and aides knew how much he loved the sun, but it made little difference. They didn't put him in the sun even when they could have in some of the public space where they "put" people during the day.
my father is very funny....
We were sitting outside, playing poker, but it started to pour, and it didn't even cool things off. My father's poker wasn't quite up to par - but he still bluffed a lot.
When we got to the pacemake office the technician refused to see my father because we were 40 minutes late and the front desk hadn't told her I'd called. (The secretary from the front desk went back there twice to plead on our behalf.)
I called the ambulette service for return pickup, and we waited in the drafty, noisy lobby downstairs from 4:30 until after 7 for pickup. A long day.
I'm now at the mercy of ambulette services since I can no longer transfer my father from a wheelchair into the car - due to his fractured shoulder. I hope this isn't typical.
What really surprises me, though, is the way the technician treated us. I've been taking my father to the cardiology department at Cornell/NY Hospital since 1999, when they put the pacemaker in after he collapsed on the street. That technician knows my father and jokes with him.
Update: I sent the technician a two-page fax telling her what I thought about her behavior and why. She called me on the phone - sounding upset. (I wonder if staff had read the fax before giving it to her).) She said she didn't know we were physically in the office, and if she had known, she'd surely have seen us. She asked how she could make this up to us. I realize now I could've said by never doing anything like this to a patient ever again.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
This is 1 1/2 years before my father died. I don't remember when he lost the ability to play electronic black jack and electronic poker. I bought several of these things since they would disappear and resurface.
My father and I played black jack until the week before he died - he loved mental stimulation but his doctor said he really did have ALzheimers. I'll get a report in a few months, after they study his brain.
And where did his "nice" clothes go!!!
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
This was the last "outside" haircut my father had, in 2005. We went to Life Cafe in the East Village, and we found this barber shop nearby.
It was a good day.
My father got haircuts in-house after that.
My father spent a year or so at the Fairfield, an excellent nursing home. I transferred him to the Hebrew Home because the Fairfield was sold, and I was afraid it would become one of those warehouse nursing homes.
The Hebrew Home had owned the Fairfield, so I figured the Hebrew Home would be as good, just larger. In fact it was quite different.
(The Fairfield had its problems, of course - the biggest being that the doctor on my father's floor was uncooperative about coordinating with the community doctor and about keeping me in the loop.)
About a year later my father would lose the ability to stand and balance himself, so I could no longer manage to transfer him from the wheelchair to the car. So I sold my car, and we went out no longer.
But I could still take my father downstairs to the lobby and to the terrace in nice weather. He loved warm weather and sunshine.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Monday, December 26, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
My father doesn't have many challenges, so (my theory goes) he eats with one hand. If he can finish his frozen "treat" without flipping it over, onto the floor, he wins. He usually wins.
Monday, December 5, 2011
My father was given a scopalomine patch seven days ago (without my knowledge) and he's suffering from serious side effects. I noticed the patch last week but didn't think it was "anything" - even as I saw his behavior getting stranger. Extreme confusion, loss of coordination, hallucinations (ate an invisible cookie, drank an invisible glass of water, etc.), extreme restlessness, hoarse, slurred speech.....I even spoke with the doctor there on Friday and asked if perhaps he'd had a stroke. She wasn't at all concerned about the sudden change in behavior.
Yesterday I put two and two together and found out what the patch was, checked into it, and realized the sudden onset of severe dementia had to have been the patch. I took it off before I left last night and expect to hear from the doctor any minute.
The doctor was supposed to tell me when she gave him or stopped giving him medications. A few years ago he had this same reaction (but even stronger) from Percocet when he was in the emergency room for a fall. They had to keep him overnight because he was delirious and aggressive. (They let me stay and gave us a private room because he was screaming and trying to leave the hospital.)
The nursing home doctor knew about the percocet reaction because I told her why he must not be given percocet and I must be told about meds. She did tell me about the antibiotics they put him on last week.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
not doing well, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
When I was concerned about my father doing so poorly last week, I hadn't thought of a drug reaction. I didn't know what the patch was and hadn't thought to check into it - I was preoccupied with my father's behavior. I had mentioned it to the nurse, who said it was "something to stop the mucus" he had - he had an infection, apparently - or so the blood tests showed last week.
I should've persisted. But I didn't. Until last night.
Better late than never - at least I saved him from getting patch #3 today (they're replaced every three days)....
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
yogurt, frozen berry thing, tofutti, applesauce, thick shake, borscht, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
At 96, with Alzheimer's, he's full of surprises.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Usually my father is unaware of what's going on around him - probably in part because when you live in a nursing home you need to learn to tune out the assortment of movements and sounds (including screams, moans, alarm bells, etc.) around you.