|Grandpa Peasant with Danny Boy, the floor cat.|
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
About two months ago we moved my father into a Memory Care Home. It was not an easy decision. Ever since we discovered that he could no longer take care of himself or his house in Pennsylvania by himself, he had been living with us. We purchased a house with a suite on the main floor so he would not have to walk up and down steps. It was a pretty good arrangement and we were happy to have him with us, even if he often wished he were still on his own.
However, earlier this year his one working kidney failed and he went on hospice care. We though he had only days to live. But then his kidney started working again, he regained his health, and was taken off hospice. But he did not recover completely. He was weaker, his memory got decidedly worse, and so he needed more care, especially people to watch him during the night. For a while, we hired aides to come in and watch him while we slept, but he didn’t really like that, and we still had the burden of watching him during the day. He didn’t always need help, but we needed to be there and available, just in case.
After several months, we began to realize the impact this was having on us and our family. Still, shouldn’t a son be able to care for his father in his old age? So while my brother and sister began encouraging us to consider other care options, there was a level of uncertainy with me. He should be my responsibility.
What helped me think through this decision was the fact that while yes, I am his son and he my father, and that is a precious vocation and relationship, it is not the only one I have been given. I also have the vocation of father, and husband, and pastor. These people need my help, attention, and care as well. How can I balance all that? How can I care for my father and not shortchange the others? Those are not easy questions to answer. It is also difficult being a son when you’re also a caretaker.
So my brother, sister, wife, and I investigated a place close by and decided that the best way we could care for and love my father was to move him there. We approached him about it (for we would not have done it against his will) and he was okay with it. Of course, there was a period of adjustment for him, but he has settled into the routine there and is comfortable. Either my wife and I (or both of us) go to see him everyday and make sure we stay in close contact with him. We have devotions with him and make sure he knows he is loved. He doesn’t always remember our visits from one day to the next, but we live in the moment and enjoy them when we have them.
It has definitely taken a big stress off of us. I think we actually feel closer to him now that he is not in our home with us! That sounds weird, I know.
So while it was not an easy decision, it was the right one. I know many people are probably struggling with the same decision. Know that you are in my prayers. And I hope that if you are and read this, maybe this will help you a little.