Monday, July 27, 2020

Public service announcement - Estate planning

I have taken too long to thank Dad for very practical help that he gave me to deal with his stroke and what followed: planning. Many years ago, he executed a durable power of attorney, naming me his attorney-in-fact. He also gave me a list of institutions where he had financial accounts, insurance policies, etc. These tools, especially the POA, have been immeasurably helpful. Of course it has been a challenge to drop into his affairs and get up to speed on the bills, accounts, and all, but if I hadn't known where to look and then had the legal authority to take action, it would have been so very much harder.

The other key tool has been his email account. I lucked into access to this one: I saw him entering his code to unlock his phone at the hospital, and I used the phone to get into the email.*

Which is to say, if you are an adult, please take the time to make some emergency plans. Find that person you can count on and make sure that they have the legal authority and key information to help you out if things go sideways in a hurry.

* In fairness to Dad, he also provided me a vast list of account passwords, including his email. Unfortunately, the code that he used to disguise the passwords, while perfectly transparent to him, has stumped me. So when you do give that information to a trusted someone, make sure that you aren't _too_ much cleverer than they are.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Life at the new house

I haven’t posted about Dad since his move to the residential care home. It’s not a very good excuse, but it is a case of no news being good news. He seems to be quite comfortable. The caregivers are very nice. He is eating well. He was receiving physical, speech, and occupational therapy for a few weeks; OT has now stopped. He has a few pictures from his house on the wall of his room: a couple of his mom’s paintings, one of his dad’s mechanical drawings, and a watercolor of unknown provenance that was at the house in Tulsa as long as I can remember. He asked for a TV in his room, but I’m not sure how much he actually watches it.

Until yesterday, I was able to visit Dad at the gazebo in the backyard. I was masked and staying six feet away, but now that has come to an end; all visits have been suspended indefinitely. It’s a bummer, but given the still growing number of covid cases in Dallas, it makes sense.

I’ll be writing Dad notes. I’m happy to drop off notes from others at the same time, or please feel free to write him directly. Thanks.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Belated moving day

On Tuesday, Dad made a fairly smooth transfer from the rehab hospital to the residential care home where he will be for the foreseeable future. As I think I described previously, there are seven other residents in the house, each with their own room. There is a nice living room with couches and comfy chairs, plus a couple of dining areas, a back porch, and a gazebo. There are two caregivers during the day and one overnight.

This describes several residential care homes in the area. The killer app for Dad's house is that it is actually in our neighborhood. It's a ten-minute walk away. I haven't wanted to mention this detail, for fear of jinxing it, but he's now been in the house for two days, so I think it's safe to go public. He can receive mail there; please contact me for the address if you would like to start sending things directly to him.
I was at the house a good while yesterday, helping to get him moved in. It was a long day for Dad, so I was glad to pop in this evening to see him relaxing after dinner. He looked very comfortable and happy. He'd had a shower and a shave. Well, most of a shave; he seems to be growing a mustache. We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Almost moving day

June 2 remains moving day for Dad. Kerry and I were able to have two hours of "family training" at the rehab hospital, which ended up being two hours in his room, first with PT/OT, then with his speech therapist. Getting to see Dad in person for that long was an unexpected surprise. He was using his left hand to eat, a remarkable change from when I'd last seen him, in mid-March, when we were excited over finger wiggles. His speech was easier, and there seemed to be less of the compulsive fidgeting I'd seen in Tulsa. On the other hand, we were told that there has been little progress with his left leg; mobility/independence, even within a home, will be limited. And we played a game of Uno, which prompted mixed feelings. While it was good to see him participate in the game, it highlighted, in a very personal and specific way, how his brain was damaged by the stroke. Dad and I would play cribbage while having a running, unrelated conversation. When the family played hearts, he was always the one counting cards. And now, he needed coaching to play a game of Uno. I am grateful for his rehabilitation to this point, and I trust that recovery will continue, but at the risk of stating the obvious, his condition is very different from three months ago.

I'm looking forward to Dad getting settled in a new home. I know it will take time for him to adjust to yet another new setting and new group of people, but I am optimistic that this will be pleasant and comfortable for him. Whatever you are inclined to offer for this next transition - prayers, lit candles, cereal box tops, hugs - I accept on Dad's behalf with gratitude.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Looking ahead

I've kept planning to provide an update once I've had a chance to talk with Dad, but after last week's flurry of phone activity, I hadn't been able to connect with him. I finally got through. It turns out the ringer had been silenced on his room phone.

It was not the most encouraging call. I'm hoping that he was just distracted by the TV news in the background, but he was very quiet, and what he did have to say was, in essence, "I want to leave," and, "Therapy isn't getting anywhere." Of course it's natural that he wants to leave and that he should have times when he is discouraged. Hopefully, though, this is just a down morning, not how he's been feeling for the last week.

But as far as leaving goes, that is scheduled for June 2. We are making the arrangements for him to move into a residential care home, a converted house with as many as seven other residents. Everybody has their own bedroom. There are two caregivers there during the day and one overnight. The food is all prepared there in the house, and all medical/therapy care is provided there. Speaking with Dad's therapists and case workers, as well as some friends with elderly parents, the clear consensus has been that a home, with a higher caregiver ratio, would be a better fit for him than a larger care facility. And I also think Dad will be more comfortable in a house. It won't be his house, but it is as close as we can get, at this point.