Caring for my 90-year-old father involves many details, with the goal of his enjoying the best possible quality of life. I benefit as well, not only because I’m helping him out, but because it has prepared me for my own age-related issues down the road.
One important decision was to determine when Dad should stop driving. After his third near-miss collision behind the wheel — the last one, just about side-swiping a State Trooper — he decided it would be prudent to use his driver’s license for nothing more than a photo I.D. Safer for him; safer for others.
Over the years, we have developed strategies to cope with the inevitable decline that aging guarantees.
Maintaining a regular schedule helps him be less forgetful as his short-term memory declines. We keep his own calendar, so he knows where I will be and what appointments he has. He checks it regularly to help him remember the activities for the day.
He lines up several of my old business cards on his bureau and writes his tasks on the blank side on the back — such as bathing, washing glasses so he can see better and not trip on something and fall, and practicing exercises from his physical therapist to build strength and maintain better balance, again so he won’t fall.. He also has a card for every day of the week, which he changes every morning to remember what day it is. He can refer to them if/when he forgets. (Yes, you read right, taking Metamucil is also on his list.) 😉
He can’t walk our dogs any longer, and so he starts the day by changing their water dish. He can, however, help his 93-year-old friend by walking her dog every morning because her dog doesn’t weigh much and doesn’t pull him too hard, as our dogs do. We lay out his pill box on the kitchen counter at meal times so he can’t miss them; and this reminds me to check to confirm he took them.
I’m lucky he likes to dust, because I hate dusting. He dusts a small area in our condo regularly and systematically, from one location to the next. He doesn’t climb up on stools or get down on the floor any longer. He says that dusting is a great form of exercise — moving around and stretching to reach all the nooks and crannies.
Also, Dad is in charge of rolling the coins I earn from tips. And, he even prepares his meals and snacks from dishes I’ve prepared or from foods that are stocked in the refrigerator.
Seniors often won’t tell you when things aren’t right because they don’t want to be a burden. Dad finally admitted his shoes were uncomfortable because there’s not much padding left on the bottom of his feet. So, I found some rug padding from a carpet store and cut it to fit inside his shoes. This allows him to be comfortable during his 3-4 daily walks.
Dad told me recently his socks were too tight. They appeared to be restricting circulation in his calves. After researching on the internet, I found therapeutic socks that fit the bill. And once again, such a simple adjustment has improved the quality of his life.
Little do us younger folk realize all the challenges Seniors have to face. I am certainly getting an education on what’s in store for me in the future… And, BTW, one of the best strategies, when it comes to addressing Dad’s health, was taking him to the opthalmologist for cataract surgery. He didn’t realize his vision had gradually become cloudy, that everything had become a dull monotone tan color like an old newspaper, because after the procedure, he declared with a smile, “Wow! The world has been given a paint job!”
Yours in aging with class, Jane