Thursday, December 11, 2014

My father loved to wink.   Taken November 8, 2008
I took so many thousands of pictures of my father.  Usually he loved having his picture taken - sometimes we'd go to the computer room on the first floor of the nursing home, and he'd watch the pictures go by on Flickr - and laugh.  

At the end, my father wasn't interested in seeing the pictures - I think he was sad that he was no longer his old self.  Or maybe I'm projecting - 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

no false teeth, he says, and refuses to wear them

October, early picture. I guess when my father broke his hip? His face is fleshy, so different from the later years when he was skin and bones.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

has a bad cold

has a bad cold by Susan NYC
has a bad cold, photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
Taken August 14, 2011...Every time the flu went around the Hebrew Home, and my father got it, the doctor there would tell me he wouldn't make it. He made it until February 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

happy birthday

happy birthday by Susan NYC
happy birthday, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
May 2012:  this week my father would've been 97, so I went out for a martini and meal with a friend to drink to my dad....he died three months ago, so he missed this one.

eating matzoh ball soup in 2005

eating matzoh ball soup by Susan NYC
eating matzoh ball soup, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
This is when my father lived at the Hyatt, a residence in Yonkers.

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

menu slip doesn't resemble meal

February 2009....they started "starving" my father early...where is the fish on the menu?where's the squash? Looks like he got egg salad for dinner, not his favorite....

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


L1000374-2 by Susan NYC
L1000374-2, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
Taken May 2008, my father "hiding" behind a magazine...when my parents were young, I remember the arguments between my mother and father because my father was "always hiding behind a newspaper or book" - so said my mother...

It's true.

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

here my father is posing

here my father is posing by Susan NYC
here my father is posing, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
Sometimes he mugs for the camera....

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.

my father

my father by Susan NYC
my father, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

I got so used to seeing my father with his arms this way that when he stopped, I missed this posture.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

snooty face

snooty face by Susan NYC
snooty face, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
A picture of my father just after his 92nd birthday. He would've been 97 this month.  (May 2012)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hebrew Home at Riverdale

Hebrew Home at Riverdale by Susan NYC
Hebrew Home at Riverdale, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
I took this August 2006 when my father moved from the Fairfield nursing home (which was sold) to the Hebrew Home in Riverdale (the Bronx). He lived on three different floors here, in three different buildings.

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

looking askance

looking askance by Susan NYC
looking askance, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

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 and Hia

my father and Hia by Susan NYC
my father and Hia, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
Hia was sent to the nursing home by the MJH Hospice - and my father loved it when she came.  He sang on key.

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

reading my notes, January 31, 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

dad and I

dad by Susan NYC
dad, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

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.

dad & I

dad & I by Susan NYC
dad & I, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

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.

dad & I

dad & I by Susan NYC
dad & I, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

He's 91, I'm 62. We don't look like we used to.

dad & I - 66 years ago

dad & I by Susan NYC
dad & I, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

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


dad by Susan NYC
dad, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

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

in the sun 12/2010

looking askance by Susan NYC
looking askance, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
I wish my father could've been in a room with sunshine in the last room he lived in at the Hebrew Home. The bedrooms with sunshine were very limited. He'd have sat there all day, happily. I've never seen anyone so happy in the sun.

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.

6/2007 no napkin? no problem

no napkin? no problem by Susan NYC
no napkin? no problem, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

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.

2/2008 - one of the frustrations

L1059898.jpg by Susan NYC
L1059898.jpg, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
2008:     We spent a lot of time Tuesday waiting for the ambulette to take us to a pacemaker appointment. Pickup was for 1, then 1:30, then 2 ("for sure")....the ambulette arrived at 3:10pm, just after I'd called the cardiology department to say we were running late for the 3:30 appointment - and been told "No problem."

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

my father loved to play electronic poker

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.

I find myself looking and thinking, how long before he died?

tongue by Susan NYC
tongue, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
This was taken a year and a month before my father died. How much he changed over that year.

And where did his "nice" clothes go!!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

reading my notes, January 31, 2012

My father loved to read. Although he has Alzehimer's and doesn't understand what he reads anymore, he still "reads" whatever he gets his hands on. His vision is perfect.

my father

my father by Susan NYC
my father, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

three days before he died

20120203-IMG_7293.jpg by Susan NYC
20120203-IMG_7293.jpg, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

my father was not doing well - but then again, so many times he "wasn't doing well" and he snapped back...this time he didn't.

could barely stay awake

could barely stay awake by Susan NYC
could barely stay awake, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

A week before he died, my father was so tired.

Monday, February 13, 2012

dad's annual haircut - he hated haircuts

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.

Yoga Class at the Fairfield Hebrew Home, 1/06

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.)

November 2009, an outing

L1037934  an outing by Susan NYC
L1037934 an outing, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

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.

mirror view

mirror view by Susan NYC
mirror view, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

My father looks goofy without his teeth. He looked even goofier if he smiled without his teeth. He knew it, and he rarely smiled because of that. But he laughed.

This was taken last January, 2011.

born 5/24/1915 died 2/6/2012

20120203-IMG_7311.jpg by Susan NYC
20120203-IMG_7311.jpg, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

My father died peacefully a week ago today. I sat at his side.

Friday, February 3, 2012

originally taken November 11, 2006

Charlotte, rubbing cocoa butter into dad's feet. She was a bit afraid of him, I think, because he vocalizes. But they turned it into making animal sounds at each other.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

skinnier than ever

skinnier than ever by Susan NYC
skinnier than ever, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

While I was away, my father appears to have lost a fair amount of weight. I had several conversations with various people at the Home to try to remedy the problems - everyone returned my calls.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

dad and cards - a wonderful match

Even when my father isn't up to playing 21, he has a fine time sorting the cards....each pack is a mix of several packs since cards get lost so easily.

Monday, December 26, 2011

my father on Christmas, 2011

my father by Susan NYC
my father, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

My father was a bit overwhelmed by having Jen, Charlotte, and Nathaniel and I visit, I think. But I'm glad we all went.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

concentrating on eating with one hand

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

can barely hold cards

can barely hold cards by Susan NYC
can barely hold cards, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

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.



skinny by Susan NYC
skinny, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

my father - restless, agitated

20111204-L1016412.jpg by Susan NYC
20111204-L1016412.jpg, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

sometimes we stop in the chapel

Sunday, December 4, 2011

not doing well

not doing well by Susan NYC
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)....

dad 12/2/11

dad by Susan NYC
dad, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

from march 2007

L1005130.JPG by Susan NYC
L1005130.JPG, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

Four years ago, how different my father looks

Sunday, November 20, 2011

my father

my father by Susan NYC
my father, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.

Rather relaxed last night

I didn't realize my father could play a tune

I guess it's like riding a bicycle - you never forget....but I didn't know he could play anything to remember....

On the main floor

"reading" the movie clock in the ny times and watching the fish

yogurt, frozen berry thing, tofutti, applesauce, thick shake, borscht

My father can still play cards, and hold them

can still play cards, and hold them by Susan NYC
on this day could still play cards, and hold them, a photo by Susan NYC on Flickr.
Sometimes his fingers just can't coordinate and the cards fall. And sometimes he can't figure out if he has anything in his hand. But mostly my father plays poker fine.

At 96, with Alzheimer's, he's full of surprises.