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Don’t Be Afraid to Step In

Blog May 2nd, 2017
caregiver-tips-alzheimers-disease

By Teresa Fischer

This is the story of Don W.

Don was a good man, gifted in carpentry, he could build anything! He worked construction most of his life, but not just ordinary construction, he was a perfectionist in his field and built wonderful homes, beautifully crafted.

Don never married, and after retirement brought his aging parents home to live with him. Mom kept a bountiful garden, and from it she canned her vegetables, made pies and created home cooked meals. Don enjoyed the fruit of her labor for many years.

Dad on the other hand was a bit of a challenge, having some dementia, he would sit in his chair and bark orders at his wife, but that’s about as far as it ever went. Don and his father had never gotten along well, but he loved his parents and was happy to help them.

The years went by and dad passed away, and a short time later, mom as well. Now it was just Don, alone in his home. He was a loner and had no friends, although he was close with his brother who lived a ferry ride away. He enjoyed going to the store and running errands, which became his social interaction.

He was now in his 70’s and as time passed, his brother Duane noticed that Don would repeatedly lose his car keys, his wallet, and eventually, stopped driving. Mostly, he sat home alone, no visitors, no family nearby, and the television became his only companion. He had always been a proud and stubborn man and, would never accept outside help. He was healthy as a horse and didn’t take any medication, but his mind was slipping. Soon, he forgot how to cook.

Duane checked on him as often as an older brother living 3 hours away could, but it wasn’t enough. Duane would bring him food to last weeks, and put it in the refrigerator, only to find most of it rotting when he returned. He set up meals on wheels, which lasted for a short while, until Don started refusing to open the door for them. He was becoming paranoid.

One day Duane called for Don, but there was no answer. He called again and again, but still no answer, so he got in his truck and made the 3 hour trip to see his brother. When he arrived, he found that Don had fallen in the bathroom and was unconscious! Duane called 911 and Don was transported to the hospital. He died shortly after. They estimated he had been on the bathroom floor at least 48 hours. Poor Duane, he was ridden with guilt and wished he had insisted on Don moving somewhere he could be looked after. He told himself all the usual things; Don was an adult and could make his own decisions, he couldn’t ‘force’ him to move, etc…but in his heart of hearts, he knew that his brother needed more care. He wished he would’ve pursued becoming the Power of Attorney so that he could have made the medical decisions, and sought outside help, such as Concierge Care Advisors. Stepping in and being more proactive could’ve saved Dons life.

Concierge Care Advisors are trained to guide family through this difficult process and can even help with the words to say to a resistant loved one. We are the trained professionals in the eldercare field. We can advise on how to obtain Power of Attorney, now to talk to that stubborn loved one, what type of living situation fits your family members needs and so much more. Let us come along side of you and be a support to you so that you can be that support to your loved one during this vulnerable time.

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