Last spring my good friend of 35 years asked if I would be interested in working part-time for her dad. His wife died 10 years ago and he had gotten to the point he needed someone to clean the house, cook and freeze meals and fill his medication box each week. He was confused and recently diagnosed with dementia. It was early stage and he did alright with just a little help.
We had a fun summer, laughing a lot about the things his daughter and I got up to when we were teens. I got to know him on a completely different level than ever before and realized this man is really fun, I grew to love him like my own father.
I could tell his confusion was getting worse and kept his daughters informed on how he was doing. The last day I was here part-time, I sent a message to both his daughters.. Dad is extremely confused today. I'm concerned about him being alone over the weekend so one or both of you should check in with him. That Sunday I got a message saying his younger daughter had not been able to reach him by phone & thought his phone was off the hook again. She came over and found him undressed and incoherent. She called 911 and he was admitted to the hospital.
He didn't improve, if anything he got worse. He got agitated, then angry, then violent while in the hospital. When it was time for him to be released, they couldn't find a rehab center willing to take him because he had needed to be restrained once in the hospital.
That's when I came back into the picture. Would I be willing to be his full-time caregiver? Well yes, I care deeply about him and he can't be alone. He was released on Saturday and I moved in on Sunday. The first 3 days were fine. I cooked, cleaned, made sure he took his meds and was just here if he needed anything.
On day 4 he lost control of his bowels. This was something that had never happened before and we were at a loss as to why. This went on for almost a week before we realized he had a fecal impaction. For a week I was the only one who was here to help him. He was just aware enough to be embarrassed, I did anything I could to let him know I understood, but can only imagine how this must have made him feel and I didn't mind cleaning him up. Yesterday he was finally able to clear his bowels and that thankfully hasn't been a problem since.
The problem is, I'm not a trained caregiver. I was a CNA in my 20's and though I do remember much of it, I don't remember everything from 30 years ago. He has now started spitting his medicine out each time we try. He has sundowners syndrome, so my initial thoughts were give him his pills before the sun goes down. Up until today he has always taken his morning meds without issue. But today he spit those too. I can't force him to take them, and knowing he did get violent in the hospital, I don't want to do anything that might make him more agitated, leading him to that possible outcome again. I tried hiding them in his favorite ice cream, but he wasn't even a little interested.
Both his daughters work full time, one has kids of her own and the other has a husband with mental health issues. They're busy with full lives and I get that. But I do feel like I was just dropped into the fire with a good luck and little else. I truly want to help him, but I feel like I need a crash course in being a caregiver to a dementia patient.
Right now my biggest problem is how to get him to take his meds.