My dad is 96, limited eyesight, doesn't like TV, or reading. He's ADHD and I can't fill his day with enough activities. HELP.


My dad is age 96 with diminishing eyesight. Can't read nor drive, but can walk around famliar areas. He is loosing his short term memory, but can hold a conversation well , superficial conversations that are not "deep". He hates being alone and wants something scheduled 24:7... .he is also a military background .
He wont sit because he is afraid of falling asleep. Taking naps is lazy.
He won't use a cane to stabilize because he feels people with walkers and canes use them for attention.
He does not want to live like this another 30 yrs! ( i tried not to laugh because he was serious)
He had a cartaker 9 hrs a week, and doesn't want her because that shows weakness and he does all the laundry before she gets there. SHe does get him to a mall to walk .
I work, started my family late (had my children at age 41, 47) so I am now age 60 with a 13 and 19 yr old. I work T,W.Th 7:15 to 4:15. I am so tired thinking of how to keep him busy. He comes everyday at 4:30-8:30 for dinner. Saturdays he goes to all Kates' activities with me (volleyball or basketball), Sundays he goes to church with us at 10:30 and stays all day.
He has a lady friend that takes him out twice a wk for a total of 5 hrs
He has a nice guy age 65 that takes him to lunch 2 x a month
He has a nice couple that takes him to church at 9am and gets him back for my church at 10:30
He recently was on a ladder washing all his house windows, and only last year was on the roof with a leaf blower. ANd he can't see well...he waits till no one is around, and then gets on the roof.
He thinks he is age 70, but really is more like age 85, quickly becoming age 96.
Went to a day center and they said he was too old and his short term memory was too advanced. I disagree, he was better than some people I saw there. He just gets nervous and repeats himself and can't remember names well anymore. He does need help IF there is someone on the floor that could trip him, but he can get around himself
SO, I need suggestions on what to do for activities for him...he refuses to go to Independent living. Merrill Gardens manager keeps inviting him to their men's club 2 x month. She is wonderful, but he thinks she is trying to trick him into moving there ,,,,so he goes, and stays only 1 hr...
He won't listen to books on tape
He won;t sit long because he is afraid he will fall asleep, and he feels taking naps is a sign of laziness
He won't use a cane, because he feels people with canes and walkers do it for attention. A cane could stabilize him in an area he is unfamiliar with..
He can't play cards nor drive anymore due to his limited eyesight.

Since I work, my siblings live out of state (but help alot), I feel badly because I wish I could find a day center that wanted him, or some ideas for him and his cartaker to do those 9 hrs, , or something I can do with him at my house as I do cleaning/laundry...he wakes each day wanting to write down on his legal pad what he is doing that I make up and do errands i don't need to do just so he has something to write down and feel he got done.
ALL he wants to do is physical things....a Senior Living center asked me what would makehim happy...i told her, serving the dinner, washing the dishes, helping...just wants to work and feel needed...but he mopped my kitchen floor and almost ruined it (he can't see), we let him paint a room (and the walls are splotchy (as he can't see), he will wash your clothes (but won't separate so ruins them too)
He peels my vegetables and leaves half the skin on them (cant' see)
He is like a toddler that wants to do everything, and can't do anything

SUMMARY: need suggestions on what to do to keep him busy and feeling good about himself....

(he takes only a baby aspirin each day....he could live 20 yrs! but his eyesight and memory won't be as good in 3-4 yrs)

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10/4/13 again thank you for all the responses...they have given me some good thoughts to share with siblings...he has macular degeneration, and alot is not liking to not know how to do something....thank you all for your suggestions.
Hopefully your answers will help others too....
Helpful Answer (0)

My mother sounds as if she'd be a good match for him.She thrives on organization and is most happy and relaxed with schedules soooooo
I put her charge of "inventory". She keeps track of what I have in Kitchen and bathroom and what I need or will need soon.
As she enjoys the news so we always have something to discuss.If there's a big news story HOORAH! she is busy for hours and we exchange opinions throughout the day on developments (though I have explain often).
She enjoys organization so again I let her plan out cupboards of food,storage and like for greater "efficiency".
She keeps "fit" using my 3lb barbells and Wii games of bowling, golf etc.
We also also enjoy these so everyone is happy.
Cane: she will not use it.She is 93 but feels it makes her look old.
There are unobtrusive tech devices you can install that will alert you to falls in the house; mats, sensors and the like.
Reminders: again a million gadgets offering voice and/or alarms that "remind" our parents what to do or not to do when we are not around to monitor their activities.
I have 2 rescue pits.They take turns visiting with her when I am busy elsewhere in the house. It's company for her and they love the attention.I should add that they are well trained and quiet around her. One has taken his job very seriously and accompanies her around the house alerting us to any unusual situation.He clocks in for breakfast, takes break after lunch then watches TV or sits on the porch with her until dusk.He too has found a job and loves it.
She keeps track of their grooming needs, vet appts., and potty/play schedule.
In the summer we have a garden; she washes Etc.then helps bag or ready our produce for canning or freezer.It's seasonal work but it's a job.
She enjoys a trip to thrift shops as it frugal living and many items jog her memories which in turn leads to more interesting conversation for us both.
I hope this helps.
Helpful Answer (3)

I forgot to say that I think the idea of your 19 yo living with dad is a good one. He could supervise the people coming to spend time with your dad. He might even have some friends that would be willing to help out with some activities for your dad. Bless you for all you're doing!
Helpful Answer (1)

The idea above of getting young people around him could keep him entertained. College students have some time and need money. They also have interests that may stimulate your dad. The point about making your dad feel that he is helping others seems like a good one too. Can you find some students that would come as often as possible (2 hours a day?) and have planned activities with dad? The idea about genealogy is great. Could you get someone to ask questions of him and record all that he can remember? Then record and organize the information? You could get a great memento out of that. The project could continue endlessly, as his decline progresses the same info could be gone over again and again without boring him. Since he likes to do yard work, could you get someone to "assist" him with the yard work, he doesn't have to know that the real reason they are there is to protect him and it doesn't matter how much leaf blowing does or doesn't get done. Maybe a "chauffeur" could take him here, there, no where just to occupy his time. Someone to come and walk with him, as he is able. I know college students might not be around indefinitely but if you have several and each is doing something that they find interesting and getting paid for it you might be able to satisfy your dad until he passes into a phase that is less demanding for you. Another group of people that might be able to do these types of things are seniors. Maybe you could find some at the senior center or churches. (They might even volunteer.) My point is just finding a group of people who would come see dad on a regular basis to occupy him. You could even make a master schedule and keep the slots as full as possible.
P.S. Even if he peels most of the vegetable away, that's okay. :-)
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Can he polish silver or brass items? Shiny is god for the visually impaired. Don't have any? Go to Good Will. How about polishing shoes, breaking down cardboard boxes, shredding paper, stirring a compost pile with a pitchfork, fishing on the shore at a small local lake (we have one at a local park). Just trying to brainstorm. Also, call a local center for sight and hearing. My cousin was able to get some machines that magnified text and reversed images from black on white to white on black. Made it easier to see.
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sorry for these corrections, my android voice recognition is faulty:

(P 1) ... you haven't said what EYE CONDITION has CAUSED

(P 5) ... take all the pressure OFF the 19-year-old
(P 5) ... keep your dad relatively busy WHILE your dad could be thinking
(P 5) ... as well as doing OTHER needed things for them

(P 6) ... one with LOU Gehrig's disease (ALS)

(P 7) ... volunteer animal welfare work, THIS CASE DOES NOT SEEM TO ME TO BE an appropriate time

(P 7) ... medium/large dog with a SHORT COAT for easy maintenance

I should have said that my suggestion for a medium/large dog is so that when the dog would be standing next to your dad, your dad could feel the dog's head. As your dad just becomes more and more impaired, tactile considerations will become paramount to allow him to continue feeling as if he is part of the sighted world.
Helpful Answer (1)

Ho - you haven't said what I can dish in has cause your father's vision problems, so I'm going to surmise that whatever it is, it isn't correctable and it will continue to deteriorate. All else I write here is based on that assumption.

Sometime in the near future, your dad will not be able to see at all and will not continue to be home alone. When? Maybe his ophthalmologist could predict that for you. Considering his bent for independence, it seems to me that you will need to have someone living with him full time at that point if he is to remain at home.

Looking ahead, he may very well need to be in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility. If he owns his own home and you want to protect that from the MedicAid 5 year lookback, having a family member live with him for 2 years to prevent the need for him going to a nursing home would most likely allow you to conserve his home and not have the system take it for his expenses. You would have to see a Medicaid knowledgeable eldercare attorney to make sure it is setup correctly, and you would have to have doctors certify that he shouldn't be living alone (which kind of seems like a no brainer, except for your father's belief that he's OK by himself), and I'm thinking maybe your 19 year old may be willing to take on that task.

How many bedrooms does your father's home have? You could put your 19 year old in one bedroom and another caregiver you find in an additional bedroom, someone who does live in care whom you find through the Department of Aging or maybe even through one of the churches your father attends.

Now, how would you get your father to go along with this? The answer seems so simple to me, as an outsider looking in, that your father is the kind of person who will bend over backwards to help someone else. If he believed that your 19 year old and another person from the church really badly needed housing, your dad may be super inclined to assist. Of course your child and the caregiver (who COULD be someone who needs a roof over his/her head, and may be willing to assist your dad just for room and board) would be "IN ON" what was up with your dad but never ever reveal it to him. Your dad's grand child living with him for 2 years would satisfy the home protection requirement and the other person, the caregiver if you will, would basically take all the pressure of the 19-year-old, who would just more or less be supervising the care. But between the two of them and their needs, they could keep your dad relatively busy why your dad could be thinking he's doing them a service as well as doing it needed things for them as long as he can.

Now, I can hear that you may already be saying to yourself that this is not ethical to lie to your father. ln my own case, having been a direct or indirect caregiver to 9 family members or friends, 8 with different forms of dementia and one with me Gehrig's disease, I can tell you that I and other members of this forum find that we often must fib to our loved ones for their own good, due to their stubbornness, their inability to appropriately assess their condition, or a myriad of other reasons. This goes by a variety of names, I call it therapeutic lying. You can google it and you will find how often it is used in care taking patients, just out of sheer need to care take them safely.

I would also add that after 40+ years in volunteer animal welfare work, this does not seem do you need to be an appropriate time or place for a dog. Unless the dog is a seeing eye dog, there will be problems and the likelihood of placing such a dog with a 95 year old is negligible. The training is very costly and when they match a dog with a patient, they need to plan for it to go on for a number of years. If your dad were more cooperative or competent to be able to fulfil certain tasks, a regular dog might be an option. But seriously, if he can't adequately peel a potato, how could he appropriately care for a living being. I might change my mind about this if he had his grandchild and another adult living with him. Volunteers who work at shelters rehabilitating dog for placement could choose a calm, older dog that may be a perfect fit for your dad if he would even like a dog and if he has help caring for the dog. ln such a case, try to find a medium/large dog with a shortcut for easy maintenance.
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Goodness, I can't count how many people responded with the suggestion of books on tape, when the person already said (twice) that the father wouldn't listen to them for the fear that he would fall asleep and felt that would equate to laziness! I am also low vision. I had planned to spend retirement years reading and am facing having to listen to the books instead of reading them. I fall asleep, too (also do it when reading visually) so quit suggesting it for him, already! I think if he could get a trained service dog that would be more a solution that some of you seem to think. Such a dog is trained not to be in the way, and could also go on walks and guide the man if it is trained for the visually impaired.
Helpful Answer (2)

As a mother of a son with ADHD, start supplying him with Mountain Dew. That extra caffeine slows the person with ADHD down, doesn't speed them up like those who aren't hyperactive. In fact, that's one sure way to tell if your kid has ADD/ADHD... caffeine. Unfortunately for me, our son hated carbonated drinks, so bummer.
Helpful Answer (0)

Your dad seems to be receiving lots of care and activities for a man 96. He seems driven to do things his way, so I would do what you can but not stress over trying to entertain him or keep him busy.

I would ask his doctor to get an OT to come to his home and teach him how to be as independent as possible with limited sight. Have him fold clothes/perhaps put them away if he can see well enough with using his sense(touch).Perhaps a PT or exercise person to have him safely exercise in a chair each day.

The refusal to use a cane or walker will likely lead to a fall(s) --if he hasn't fallen yet. No man likes to use either, but I asked my father to think about how a broken hip would restrict his movement and perhaps mean he would be stuck in a nursing home the rest of his life. Needless to say, my father had a high IQ was a construction worker all his work days--knew the walker was a small price to pay if it kept him on his feet. Your dad will have to make some concessions to his "enemy" (military mindset) old age. He is putting up a good fight against the enemy but all the elderly know that in the end old age wins out.

Don't think you need to entertain them. I found just being with my dad gave him lots of peace of mind. My dad had a daily routine which included mass on tv, prayer, taking a nap at 3 pm, doing some exercise from his chair, reading his 3 daily newspaper, drinking his favorite tea, discussing the news with me ... Before his Cateract surgery, he would listen to books on tape. Being military, get a tape of books on generals or battles of the US Army. He might be interested in them.

Good luck.
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