Ok, I have been putting off posting this topic because I realize many folks here have much more serious problems to discuss than a dilemma like this. That is, it may not seem like a dilemma to anyone else but me --- however, I am choosing to "bite the bullet" because it's the problem I'm having related to my 76 year old Dad. .
My Dad has been in assisted living and now a nursing home for 5 months or so. He gets the occassional visit from my brother and his family. Once a week someone from the church comes to give him communion. He, also, has a weekly visit with his counselor. Friends rarely visit because they're either busy or have health problems themselves.
I feel like I should visit Dad every other day. I love him and I want him to know that he's not forgotten. My problem is that I have begun seeing these visits as a chore, an obligation and something I don't look forward to.
First of all, it's incredibly depressing to me that he now lives in a room with little more than a bed, a dresser and a tv. I walk down the hallway to his room and see other folks who seem to be in far worse condition and think, "Dad doesn't belong here!"
When I get to his room, he's usually in his wheelchair watching tv. The usual topics of conversation aren't on the table. Like we'd exchange conversation about what we'd been doing for the past couple of days. For him, we're pretty much down to whether or not he had a BM that day. I've stopped asking who he's talked to lately because it's so sad to hear him say nobody has visited or called him. As for me, my life hardly changes from day to day and I'm sure he's not interested in dustball stories or money woes.
Please tell me what kinds of things you talk with your Mom or Dad about when you go to visit them. A lot of time we just watch tv together or the subject of my Mom comes up. She died 8 months ago and we do have a lot of grief to share --- I have brought Dad small photo albums I made with pictures of Mom and the two of them together which he seems to appreciate.
Dad used to be a voracious reader so we could talk books or even the latest movie we had seen. That's out because he doesn't have the attention span to do any heavy reading and we don't go to the theatre any more. I bought him a Scrabble game for Christmas and now realize he just doesn't have the patience or concentration to get through a game.
I bring him dinner or dessert or something to drink on a regular basis. So we eat together and that's something familiar --- comforting.
My other question has to do with frequency of visits and the length of time of visits. What seems like the right amount of visits per week for anyone who has a Dad or Mom in a home? When I let 3 days go by without visiting him, I feel guilty --- maybe I should alternate between calls and visits. Right now I rarely call since I see him so often. Also, I feel like I should stay an hour but sometimes it's just too much and 20-25 minutes is my limit on some days. Again, I feel guilty when I don't stay longer.
I appreciate the opportunity to share what's been on my mind for a while so thanks for reading if you've gotten this far. I look forward to finding out how other caregivers handle visits.