Elder Enigma

I talk to my Granddaddy on the phone every so often and each time I do, we talk about the same things.  First, we cover the weather.  He tells me all about what’s happening in his area, as if I needed a weather report for a town that’s 3,000 miles away, and it’s never good.  It’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dry, too wet.  Then he asks what it’s like where I’m at but since he can’t hear too well, I give it a few tries to which he gets frustrated with because he doesn’t understand what I’m trying to say.  He attempts a few times to repeat back what I’m trying to tel him and after a mild screaming match, we reach consensus on the weather.

The next topic that always follows the weather is how we’re both doing.  He always hems and haws about one thing or another.  It used to be his sinus’ and arthritis but ever since he had heart surgery, it’s been that he has shortness of breath.  There’s nothing wrong with him.  He goes to the doctor once a week to doctors that he rotates through.  The closest determination is that it’s anxiety.  But since none of the doctors talk to one another or will take the time to figure out a solution, he continues his rounds.  One doctor actually did provide him with an anti-anxiety pill but they told him it was for his nerves so he won’t take it saying that there’s nothing wrong with his nerves.  Would it be wrong to lie to him?  He takes his heart pill religiously because it’s for his heart.  Why not just tell him that he needs an additional pill for his heart because of the shortness of breath?

We then roll into the old memories that he has of me and him playing in the garden.  It’s the same every single conversation.  He misses me but even if I visited him tomorrow, he wouldn’t remember it.  But he’d call me and reminisce once again about when I was a little girl and would visit him and my Grandma.  He’s been tested for Alzheimer’s and doesn’t have it but his tests for dimensia also come back negative.  I don’t know if there’s a way to fool the tests but when given simple things to remember, he can’t.  His primary care doctor knows that he’s getting worse but it seems that there’s nothing we can do.  He was scheduled to have a series of memory tests done but when he was told that they were memory tests and that they’d take 3 hours to perform, he got angry and left, huffing that there was nothing wrong with his memory.

Lastly, we discuss how lonely he is.  He has a companion that we’re sure is taking advantage of him but we can’t convince him of it.  I’ve researched elder abuse and spoken with elder service people and as long as he’s willingly making the decisions, there’s nothing that can be done.  We urge him to keep an eye on his finances but when approached about it, he doesn’t remember so our discussions go nowhere.  We toured some senior communities but they’re for “old people” which he thinks he’s not.  He is in good shape for 86 years old but he in no way feels that he’s old.  It’s a good thing but not.  So, we go round and round about him wanting to stay in his home but that he’d be so much happier in a community but he’s stubborn and won’t listen at all.

It’s frustrating for everyone.  It drives me crazy that housing for elder people is so expensive and that there’s no way to convince him that he’d be so much better off.  I can understand wanting to remain in a familiar place but I don’t understand sitting there, day in and day out, alone.  My Granddaddy does have a job but he’s gotten so bad physically and mentally that the church that he’s working at is having a hard time accommodating him any further.  I know everyone goes through this.  I just thought I’d write about it.  If you have suggestions or ideas, please leave them in the comments.GrandDaddy and Baby Missy


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