This blog is simply the story about my little life
with my sweet family that the Lord has blessed me with
and the day in, day out things that we do.
It basically is my online diary/photo album of our life.
I'm glad you're here!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Eric's parents...

Jim and Alice circ 1988
 I wanted to tell you a little bit about what has been going on with my in-laws lately, particularly, my father-in-law, Jim. What's happening to them is very sad, in fact, heartbreaking. I'm grieving the loss of my in-laws and the way they used to be like in the photo above. They were both so active, strong and vibrant; so loving, giving and supportive. Eric and I both are dealing with all four of our aging parents and it does take an emotional tole and when I say that I mean that it is just so hard on our hearts, it's sad. We are so grateful that all of them are still with us, that is such a blessing, but it's hard to see them in pain and watch them slowly fade away.

 To give you a little bit of back story, I will start with about five years ago my mother-in-law, Alice, started to come down with symptoms of vascular dementia, her condition steadily worsened to the point that she needed to go into an assisted living home about two years later. Alice's new home was about 2 miles from their old home where Jim was still living. Jim seemed to be great living on his own; in the beginning he was visiting her every day, running errands, going to appointments, golfing and even fishing with my husband, Eric.
Jim & Alice March 2014.
Fast forward to about one year ago, the fall of 2013. We started noticing that Jim was becoming a little confused. He is very hard of hearing and actually has a cochlear implant, but it's still very hard to communicate with him, especially on the phone. Because of this, the family set him up with Life Alert and we established good relationships with his neighbors and they knew to contact us if anything went wrong.
My special lunch date. April 2014.
We started getting phone calls from his neighbors that he was having difficulties with his Life Alert system. He kept forgetting the instructions and he accidentally turned it off several times causing Life Alert to send an ambulance when it was just a false alarm. We had to go out there and help figure it out several times. They live a half hour away from us, so while we could get out there, it took us time to get out there and if was an emergency, that's too far and if it's non-emergent, it takes a lot of time out of our day, so we started realizing that we were going to start considering some alternative plans.

At the same time we were starting to notice Alice declining as well and getting concerned she was receiving the level of care that she really needed. We limped along status quo hoping and praying they were both alright.
Eric talking with his father about the accident.
So now we will fast forward to February 2014. We got a phone call that Jim was in the emergency room at the hospital. He was found by a neighbor flat on his face out in the street. Jim was conscious, but hurt pretty bad. The neighbor called 911 and the ambulance came and took him to the hospital.
Hayden visiting with his Grandpa Jim after Jim's terrible fall.
We got the call and my husband picked him up at the hospital, stopped by Jim's house to get his things and brought him to our house.
He doesn't know what happened. All he remembers is that he was out on his daily 2 mile walk and he crossed the street and he went down and the next thing he remembers is waking up.
The hospital said no broken bones or concussion, so we were very thankful for that, but was so sad to see his injuries, he was in bad shape. He had a terrible black eye and bump on his head and bumps and bruises all over. He hit his mouth very hard and broke his upper denture partial. After dinner we sat in front of the fire and he held an icepack to his head. He was so sweet and didn't complain. He was very grateful that we were taking care of him.
He stayed the night and had a good sleep. Eric and I didn't sleep so well for we were quite concerned about him. We knew he would recovery from his injuries, but we were so concerned about what made him fall, is there neurologic things going on? What if this happens again? Is he safe to live alone?
The next day Eric and I both had to work, so we left him at the house alone. I brought him a hamburger when I came home for lunch. I really enjoyed hanging out with my father-in-law. He is a very nice man. Well, he seemed to be doing quite well, so Eric took his father home that night.
Jim & Alice with Mackenzie, Brittany and Ridley at one of our family dinners. March 2014
We discussed all of this with Eric's siblings, Mark (who lives back east) and Stacey (who lives an hour and a half away) and we thought perhaps it was time to start having someone checking in on him once a week. We came up with a perfect solution, our daughter-in-law, Brittany, said she would love to take the baby and go over to his house once a week to check in on him, clean the house and cook him a meal. This solution worked out perfect, but unfortunately had to end when Ridley started crawling and it became difficult, but we ended up hiring another friend who took over.
Jim and I enjoying lunch after one of his appointments.
Jim was having a hard time seeing, so his doctor referred him to ophthalmologist. We were concerned that he would not grasp the doctors advice and instructions, so I took him to his appointments. I was happy to do this and we always made fun days of it by going out to lunch and....
...visiting Alice afterwards.
He was referred to an eye surgeon where we learned that he had one of the worst cases of cataracts the doctor has seen. He said it was as though Jim was trying to see through a cotton ball! His right eye's vision was blocked 90% and the left eye was blocked 78%. His right eye was considered legally blind and the left was very close. The good news is that he is a great candidate for the cataract removal surgery and that the outcome should be really wonderful after surgery.

The doctor said that Jim was still legal to drive because the cut off is 80% in one eye, but that he highly recommended he not drive anymore until after the surgeries.  Oh, boy, what do we do now? We told the doctor our situation, that Jim lives alone and likes to visit his wife at the assisted living home every day. He said that if it was a short route (which it was) and one that he was familiar with that he could continue to do that, but limit all other driving.
This was good news to get us through, but unfortunately the first available surgery date was 6 weeks away, and Jim had eight separate appointments coming up related to the surgery with clearance from his regular physician, eye measurements, the actual surgery and then follow-up the day after surgery and two weeks after surgery. God was good to us and we were able to arrange rides through friends and family.

The day had finally come for the finally measurements before the surgery. We were having difficulty finding a ride for this appointment, but decided that he could drive himself because it was only a short distance from his house.

I called the night before and told him I would meet him there on my way to work. I arrived at the doctor's office, but he was not there. I called the house, but no answer. Worry and concern ensued. I called Stacey and she called the assisted living home and his neighbors, but we could not find him.

Finally, the doctor got a call from the surgeon's office, Jim had driven to the wrong place and he was confused. Thankfully he was okay, but this was very distressing on the whole family. We really knew that we needed to address this soon.

One week later, it was a Friday and I was off work and my husband had come home real early from work. At about 10:30am we got a phone call from the surgeon's office. Jim was there again and he had no appointment, they went on to tell us that he was very confused and he could not find his car. The nurse that I spoke with told me that they needed us to come and get him because even if he found his car, they could not allow him to drive in that confused state. She also went on to say that she was a mandatory reporter, meaning she had to "turn him in" to the DMV for his driving. Oh my gosh, I just never thought we would ever get a phone call that one of our parents was confused and lost. This was so devastating.
Jim helping Eric in the yard. Eric has a lot on his mind and is very concerned for his father.
Eric and I jumped in the car and headed to the surgeon's office. It was really sad to see him sitting there. He was like a child and was embarrassed that he got lost, but at the same time was not concerned that he was lost. We drove around and around the doctor's office looking for his car and we finally found it. We asked him why he went there and he said he was practicing for the surgery next week. It is all so sweet and so sad. He was trying to be responsible and wanted to practice where he was going, but he forgotten that he was not driving himself to the surgery, but that his daughter would be taking him. It was just heartbreaking.
The circle of life. Years ago little boy Eric watched his big strong Daddy work in the yard, now the father watches his strong son working.
My husband and I brought him to our house for a few days. Eric and I were VERY concerned. We both hardly slept that first night. What do we do? I wanted to scoop him up and have him come live with us at that moment, but thankfully, we talked it all out and realized that we don't need to go to that extreme yet. He is very independent, but he's confused about all these many appointments. He's been doing just fine by himself up until this moment, so perhaps we need to slow down our thinking and pray over this! Also, his vision is terrible at this point, but after the surgery it will improve almost 100%.
We prayed about it and the next day I felt like the Lord pressed an idea on my heart.
Jim visiting Alice in the assisted living home.
Since Eric and I are the closest family to Jim and Alice, we are the ones who are taking them to appointments and being called when there are emergencies. Why don't we move them to our community where they are both just five minutes from us? There is a wonderful care facility in our town and we could move Jim to a nice duplex hopefully within walking distance of the care center. We presented our idea to Eric's siblings and they all agreed and were on board with the plan.

The first step was to get Alice moved. I called the Town Care Center and found out that they do have openings for a female resident! This was not going to be a simple move, for there were many steps to be taken to get her moved, especially now that Medicare was covering her expenses. We had to get a release from her doctor, released from the assisted living home and we needed Medicare's approval. To our amazement, this all went through perfectly and Alice was approved! We moved her to our town in mid July.
Meanwhile, Jim finally got his eye measurements and....
Jim showing me his left eye about an hour after surgery. It's truly amazing!
...his cataract surgery on both eyes....
...and a great follow-up afterwards!
My father-in-law running errands with me.
The next big step was to get him moved to our town.
We found some rentals, but every time we called they were already taken.
My Goodwill buddy!
Then my husband had the idea to sell Jim's old house and buy him a new home in our town. We talked it over with Jim, Eric's siblings and Jim's financial advisor and the plan was approved by everyone.
Jim and Alice at the new Town Care Center where she is doing wonderfully!
We started looking for homes in our town.
My fence scrapping and sanding buddy!
The first house we found, he liked and put a full-price offer on it.
We thought this was going to go through, but....
My Dollar Store buddy!
...we got a call that another buyer came in and offered more than the asking price! What??? Now that's what I call a closed door from God!
So, he kept looking. My husband took his father out again and they found another great house.
My coffee buddy!
Jim put an offer on it and within 2 hours, the offer was accepted and a contract signed and it was Jim's!
My garage sale buddy!
The next step was to put his old house on the market. We called our realtor friend and the house was listed on a Friday and it was sold by Monday! I cannot believe how the Lord is putting everything into place for us!
So, three weeks ago Eric's siblings, Mark and Stacey came to town and we moved their Dad. My husband had the brilliant idea to hire a moving company, which saved us all time and labor!
We still had the big job of sorting through everything, which was hard work, but it was also really fun. We started Thursday night and worked all day Friday.
Friday night we met at the new house and set up our game plan. Saturday was the big move and it went really well! We had everything out of the old house and moved over to the new house. All of the furniture was in place and the beds were set up. That night everyone came to our house for Chinese food and we watched the big Duck game. Eric's dad and brother spent the night in the new house and his sister, husband, Jim, spent the night with us.
The next morning my husband made breakfast burritos and we had a big breakfast together before we headed to the new house again to finish it up.
We had a ton of boxes to unpack, but it went very smoothly.
We got it all done! Here we are after all our hard work. We were such a great team and had lots of fun together. We had every single thing put away in the correct spot and all the pictures were hung. My husband installed the workbench out in the garage and hung pegboard. The house looks amazing!
That night we picked up Alice from the care center and we had a big family dinner at our house with all of our kids. Here she is holding her great grandson Ridley, what a sweet picture!
Jim and Alice and their three kids. It's so sad to see my mother-in-law like this, she is starting to hold her head back and not track and communicate, but we had a very special, lovely, close family dinner together.
Jim loves his new home!
Now we have my in-laws living in our same town only minutes from us and minutes from each other! Now Eric and I can check in on both of them daily and have them up to our house so easily. Jim has completely recovered from his eye surgery and was cleared by the DMV to drive. He still has confusion and hyper-focuses on certain issues, but we feel he is fine to be alone for now and we are hoping things will get better for him now that we have made his world a bit less complicated. God has blessed us so much through this whole journey. I am truly thankful!

"You shall stand up in the presence of the gray-headed and honor the face of an old man and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:32

"Honor your father and your mother." Exodus 20:12a

Hugs, Sharon


jAne said...

keeping your dear family in prayer...

Anonymous said...

Wow , you have been busy , so happy all has worked out so well. Thank you so much for sharing all of this. Donna

Farrah said...


What a blessing you have in your family.


Cottonwood Tales said...

Prayers for you and your hubby and entire family. My hubby and I are the same age and are too dealing with similar parents issues. It is sad but thank God we all have wonderful memories.
Karen in Texas

Sue from Albany NY said...

Sharon,I totally feel your anguish. My husband and I moved mom in with us about 7 years ago from Florida after she began to forget stuff and was very anxious. She lived with us 5 1/2 years until she started fleeing our home refusing to return and spent time in the local hospital. She was beligerent and turning into someone other than the mom I had known my whole life. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She went through 2 facilities and several more hospital visits before being accepted into a home in another state. It has been very hard. She does not know us most of the time and lives in the past. It has been hard seeing this change. Sending you hugs from someone who has been ther.

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