This week on my Facebook memories, I was reminded that it is one year to the day that we moved my dad into a Care Home. I don’t think I really needed reminding.
Up until that date, I had been my dad’s carer for six years. Six long years where it took us almost that entire time to find our way with each other. I wanted to be his carer as much as he wanted to have dementia.
Caring for my children came instantly, that instant feeling of protection and wanting to nurture them, I’m almost afraid to say that it didn’t come as naturally when the time came to care for my dad. The tables had turned and I wasn’t quite ready for it, to say the least, and neither was he. We faced a lot of struggles in the beginning. The refusal to give up alcohol and smoking which did not help his health conditions. In fact, he almost set the house on fire on several occasions. He point blank refused to get washed or shaved for a period of time too. You think toddlers can be stubborn? Try a 70-year-old dad! The only difference is you can’t put them on the naughty step because you’d have to help them back up! Some of these stories I will save as they deserve a blog post all of their own, to be honest.
After a few years of tears and tantrums from both of us, we finally found our way with the new dad/daughter/carer relationship. I’m not going to lie, I hated every minute of it but when your dad is turning up at 5am on your doorstep, could I have just turned him away? Of course not. This is the man that done everything for my mum and I. Worked a full-time job and still came home and made dinner for us. He treated us like princesses. It was my turn to look after him and if I did half a job as caring for him as he had cared for me then we’d be doing just fine.
It was a family effort of pitching in and although I have no siblings (that aren’t estranged) I know I wouldn’t have managed the six years of caring that I did, without my hubby or our daughters. I am eternally grateful to them for all their help. However, even with paid carers and help from my family, it became evident that we just couldn’t have him living alone any longer. We did weigh up all the options but having him live with us wouldn’t have been fair on the girls. He needs round the clock care, unfortunately.
So, a year later and due to unforeseen circumstances (trying to get the leg over with other patients), he’s onto his second care home. Not a lot of people could say their dad got chucked out of a care home! So, has life gotten any easier? I wouldn’t say so. I still do the school run and automatically go to turn into my dads street to start his morning routine. I still cry most of the time leaving him after visits. I still have a huge amount of guilt and feel like I’ve abandoned him. There are weeks that I want to visit all the time and there are weeks where I can’t muster up the energy to visit at all. It’s almost like a grieving process. My dad’s dementia hasn’t progressed too far in the past year, he still knows us all, I’m so grateful for that. He is on medication after the incidents in the first care home so he is a lot more sleepy than usual but I’m assured it’s for his benefit so I put my trust in our health services.
Of course, there have been a couple of benefits from my dad being in full-time care. I now have a little shop for my balloon business rather than working from home. I couldn’t have done this before as I was constantly on call for my dad. The other benefit is holidays. When I was caring for my dad, I was paranoid he’d set the house on fire or hurt himself and I wasn’t even in the country. I tried respite care but I still didn’t feel settled. I like the fact that he has his own little home now with consistent staff and a safe environment.
I’m so happy to still have him here as he’s had so many serious health scares, he’s like a cat with nine lives! Auld Tam, as we call him is still as funny as ever and his one-liners are hilarious. He’s a typical mouthy, 75 year-old. No airs or graces and no filters. It must be great to get away with that!