Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Pop" Culture - a word on Eldercare

My father is in his 90s and in very good health for his age.  But he has some of the typical physical signs of advanced age.  For example, his skin is very thin.

Last night, while moving around his den in his socks, he slipped, grabbed onto his recliner, and slid his arm down it trying to steady himself.  As a result, he opened a gash in his paper-thin skin a good four inches long.

I live nearby so he called me to come look at it.  We discussed whether or not to go to a walk-in clinic or the ER.  I called my niece, a RN, and discussed it with her.  After all, he would not get stitches with such thin skin, so the trip to the clinic didn't seem necessary.  He has had bouts with skin cancer and things removed leaving open wounds.  I have cared for him with those wounds, so we used the same procedure.

Today we found a pharmacy that had Telfa pads and tape for sale.  Try finding that at the chain drug stores...most of their non-pharmacist staff never heard of Telfa pads.  So we were able to get a large pad that would cover the whole wound.  I don't like pieced together band aids on an open wound.  It makes removing it more traumatic than it has to be.

Okay, so I am going to be doing the daily dressing change (i.e. cleaning, medicating, and recovering the wound.)  I'm getting better at it, though I could be neater I guess.

When I was a little girl, I was Daddy's girl.  He was strong and brave and clever, my hero.  As life does, it has aged us.  We lost my mother almost ten years ago now.  He was wonderful with her in her last illness.  He wore himself out so much I worried he'd follow her soon after she left.  But he has enjoyed mostly good health.

He was a navigator in the Army Air Corps (former name of the Air Force) who served in World War II.  He fought in the south Pacific taking off from little islands he'd never heard of before.  He was with the group that went back to the Philippines with General MacArthur.  To this day, he doesn't talk much about the war.  Although since I've been living near him, he has started telling me some of the tales of his wartime experience.  He was more of a hero than I ever knew as a child.  To think of the young man he was, little more than a child himself, facing the things he saw.  He still has PTSD to a degree.

He was a high school quarterback on the state champion team.  The pictures of him scowling for the camera as he pulled back to throw a pass, wearing the old-style uniform and leather helmet, are priceless.  He weighed about 135 lbs in those days, but he says his trim legs were "fast!"  He told me sometimes he'd sneak into the defensive line for a play or two in a game.  Then the coach would yell for him to get out of there, fearing the much bigger players would hurt him.

These days he's not so fast, nor is he so sure on his feet.  But he's still my dad and I love him.  So I'll change his dressing everyday, take him out to lunch, and take drives around the area.  He likes that.

Caring for the elderly is not easy, not pretty, and sometimes messy.  But he cared for me while I was growing up, like when I was bedridden after a bad collarbone break.  He wanted to go with me when we put Sparky down, but I said no.  He's still trying his best to take care of me.

Like I said, he's my dad and I love him.  I'm blessed to have him still with me.

Take care, everybody.  Enjoy a good book, some music, a movie, or a great television show when you can.


  1. Great pic, Sharon, and what a touching share of your dedication to your dad. He's a lucky guy.

    1. Thank you,Kellie. I know there are a lot of adult children out there caring for their elderly parents. I just wanted to share my experience.