Dad is moving to hospice care

He was determined to match the profile of someone “in the last six months of life” today. It isn’t a shock… he broke his hip twice, suffers from Alzheimer’s, can’t feed himself, can’t walk, and can barely speak. When he does speak though it shows that he still has a great humorous mind trapped in a body that can’t respond… and his response is often greatly delayed and the words are hard to understand, but if you figure it out it is often amazing and very funny.

I last saw him almost two years ago and it killed me (we live about 10 hours apart… and we aren’t a touchy freely family.) My Dad is a brilliant, sharp, funny guy who is the first to make the joke. He made a small fortune but lived a very modest life. He loved to work in the yard but hasn’t taken a step in years. He loved to travel, but more than anything he loved exploring new foods (he enjoyed the ones he had already found as well). I guess the only thing better than food is he loved his wife who he first met in 2nd grade (and I guess also us kids).

I feel guilty, because I don’t want to go visit him. I don’t want to remember the old guy in the wheel chair who can’t respond to anyone. I want to remember the guy I’m talking about above.

My Mom and Sister are there with him, and he won’t know if I visit or not. He is also getting top notch care. I know I people (including my wife) think I should go visit to “help” but I really think it would be more trouble than actual help for them. I’m sure I’m justifying things, but this is the way I’m feeling. Our family isn’t good about expressing emotions.

Excuse me while I pour another Scotch and remember the Dad I had.

I’m so sorry, Spud. I went through this with my grandma, and my mom. I know of what you speak.

Your mere presence would make him happy. It’s not about whether you can help in any way. IME, close family members can somehow detect your presence even when they are not fully aware / cannot express themselves, and that can make them happy or soothe their suffering.

If he is still able to eat, bring him something he’d enjoy eating and go see him. If he is still lucid enough to recognize you, then I think he would appreciate seeing you.
However, even if his dementia has reached the point where he can’t recognize you, I think it would be nice to go there for the sake of your mom and sister.

…sister and mom …

I understand your inclinations regarding visiting now. But you are leaving the emotional heavy lifting for the shoulders of your Mom and Sis, that’s not right, to my mind.

Yes, it’s hard, yes it’s unpleasant, yes someone else is already covering it, and yes, he may not be aware of your ‘sacrifice’ in visiting when it’s not nice for you.

Now, stop and think of how many sacrifices he made for his family. You were just a child, and couldn’t see where it was hard, unpleasant. Times when he stepped up though someone else could have stepped in to cover him. All while you children were too young to be ‘aware’.

If you were a child, I’d give you a pass. As an adult I find that harder to do.

My mom is heading in this direction, but I will give my own experiences with my grandmother. After years living far apart, I went to visit my GM. She was in a hospital bed with a caregiver, but when I walked in, she recognized me, was clearly glad I showed up and it made both our days. Mere weeks later, I visited and she did not know me and was clearly passing before my eyes and in days was gone.

That first visit was a treasure and the second a confirmation, but most importantly, I said nothing of any particular importance, but no words spoken at a funeral are of any value to the passed.

I would rather visit live people than attend funerals.

How are you going to feel about yourself when he’s gone if you don’t visit him? If it’s not a good feeling, then be selfish and visit him for your own peace of mind.

My Mum spent her last week in a hospice.
She was very well-treated and because I lived nearby I visited her daily.

It was still very emotional, so I understand how you feel.

I say you should make a visit:

  • it’s something that will please your Dad and your other relatives
  • it won’t cause any trouble (just imagine what it’s like to work in a hospice - having relatives visit is very welcome)
  • it will be hard for you, but this is your last chance to see your Dad and tell him you love him
  • you may not realise it now, but you will feel better that you did this
  • when you go, remember all the good times. This is the same person.

Good luck.

I guess I should add a few more details. Mom and Dad live in a very upscale retirement community. They go from fully independent living, to assisted care, to full nursing. Dad moved to full nursing a couple of years ago. Mom lives one floor below in a beautiful apartment. There is a full staff of nurses that provides all of his care. Mom rides up an elevator and visits him, but it isn’t a burden other than accepting the situation. My sister lives about 15 minutes away and visits a couple of times a week. It isn’t like they need me to give them a break. The only real change is in the counseling my Mom gets and some of Dad’s meds are moved from preventive to easing pain.

As far as bringing him food and him enjoying my time with him… he is on only fluids, and doesn’t know his name, nor recognize the nurses who where there an hour earlier. I still remember the look on my Grandpa’s face when I last visited him (at 104). He looked terrified as this strange man bent down to kiss him on the forehead. I feel I said goodbye to my Dad a couple of years ago when his mind could understand… now we are just waiting on the body to give up.

I spoke to both my Mom and Sister and asked if I should come down. Both said no. My sister went a little further and said it would probably get my mom all worked up. She has a very specific routine and gets very upset with any changes without time to plan for them. She got very upset when her hair appointment had to be moved back by an hour because she would have to go to her friend’s apartment (3 doors away) and let her know they would have to move dinner back by about a half an hour… no, they weren’t cooking, they were riding the elevator down a couple of floors to the dining area.

I appreciate the feedback though, and it is what I feel guilty about. But ultimately, Dad will have no clue, Mom will be in a tizzy, and Sister would love to see me anytime, but it doesn’t have to be now.

Your Mom and Sister need your support. I realize you want to keep and hold the way he was in your mind, but trust me, if you don’t go, you may regret it.
There are times in life when it’s not about “us”… this is one of those times… I wish you all the best.

While I cannot speak for you personally about your feelings for your father, I can tell that there is a good chance you will REALLY regret not spending time with him in his last days.

While I cannot relate to Alzheimer’s with my parents directly, my father in law passed from it and while heartbreaking to watch, we (you, me, the medical and scientific community) have no way to know for sure that the effected person might not still be able to connect with you and enjoy seeing you. We know that outwardly the sufferer seems almost oblivious to their surroundings save for moments of clarity, but perhaps there is more to be discovered.

Secondly and more to my point, my mother passed several years ago suddenly and we had not spoken in almost a year. To this very day and for the remainder of my life, it will be one of the big regrets in my life. What wouldn’t I give to spend just a few days or even hours with her now? Several times a year I have moments where a question comes up about my family or me as a child that only she could have answered… secrets now lost.

Go see your dad my friend.

It does sound like your mother and sister have things covered. Although they could maybe use some support, it sounds like you’re staying in touch enough to have a shot at gauging that.

This may be an aside, but remembering relatives always makes me think of family photos, and how few of the ones I eventually inherited were labeled. If it’s appropriate, you could offer to help your mother and/or sister sort through old family pictures, films, and/or videos, whenever it would be convenient for them.

You could also offer to scan them, so that they can be shared electronically. Or there may be some other task more appropriate to your particular family. Sometimes, if you offer to do something specific it can be welcomed, where a general offer to visit is vague enough that it sounds like you might need to be looked after.

Mom and I went through about two boxes of photos a coupld of years before she got sick. It was a great way to talk about old family stories. Also I was glad because there was no way that I could tell her cousins apart when they were toddlers. (It’s just a pity that she only went through HER photos. Later I discovered boxes that she had inherited from her mother, and more boxes from her mother’s mother-in-law.)

Anyway, if you’re toasting your Dad, I’ll join that toast. He sounds like a person who deserves a toast.

Not necessarily, not with Alzheimer’s involved. The father of a friend would attack his sons thinking they were his brothers-in-law. The sons knew their parents’ marriage had been opposed by both families, but they hadn’t known the opposition used to involve knifes.

I’m sorry Spud. Sounds like your sister has things under control, inasmuch as possible. Peace be with all four of you.
And those of you who say “oh go visit, even though the people who are already there say ‘hell no’”: as someone who said “hell no” and meant it under similar circumstances, get lost willya? What’s the point of saying “no” if it won’t work? :mad:

Yeah, I’m going to change my opinion based on what you’ve shared about your Mom/Sis’s response.

They definitely know better than any of us can, whether they need you there or if you’ll just become another thing they need to worry over/accommodate. Whether you can handle this. Whether you can handle NOT having visited when the end comes. Whether your Dad can/would care/understand. These are things we cannot know based on a few paragraphs of OP.

If Mom says stay away - Stay Away!

Wishing you peace!