Never Goodbye

Navigating the Journey through Dementia

It’s clear we had reached another crossroad. Dad could never be left alone to live by himself.

After a night spent falling out of bed, Dad was exhausted and disoriented. As I sat with him in the Rehab Center, he was looking for cans under the bed and asking me if I’d mailed the stack of letters. Neither question was relevant to anything actually occurring at the time. However the following day, we actually had a decent conversation. We talked about his accountant and how the accountant pushed things back and seldom returned calls. He understood where he was and that his hip was broken and healing. He spoke about his roommate Herman. He also looked at me and told me he appreciated my coming to visit him every day. He told me he couldn’t believe both of his parents were gone. I knew what he meant.

When a good friend of mine called, she often talked to my dad too. He loved that and referred to her as his little girlfriend. I let her know my dad has lots of girlfriends– the gal at the bank, our neighbor Brenda, the dental assistant etc. She didn’t seem to mind.

When she spoke to him in the nursing home, she asked if he was looking forward to going home. He told her he would have to see how things worked out.

Medicare covers twenty days of nursing home rehabilitation. As we neared the end of paid coverage, I let Dad know that choices lay before us. We both agreed the nursing home fee of $123 a day wasn’t a preferred option. My heart sank when he said “If care is going to cost too much, maybe I should just end it.” What did he mean just “end it”? Fortunately, it didn’t mean overdosing on medication or asphyxiating in a garage filled with carbon monoxide. He simply figured once he decided to end it, life would cease by virtue of his decision. I explained that it does not always work out that way, and besides, we had plenty of favorable options to consider.