Saturday, September 27, 2014

Taking a Day for Dad

Dad in the Air Force, about 1950.
If I learned nothing else from taking care of mom during her last phase of her life, it was that I also was taking care of dad. Dad was like a deer in headlights when it came to emergency situations. Plus, even though he says he knows how to pace himself, he tends to overdo when it comes to an obsession -- like mowing the lawn. Oh, he has a riding lawnmower, but that thing tends to beat him up like a roller-coaster ride.

Losing a spouse can be one of the most stressful events in a partner's life, especially among elder couples. And, for men, the long and drawn-out final phase of a wife's life can be more stressful than that wife's sudden death. Men, especially, suffer more after a spouse's death, and reasons behind this rationale include the loss of social support or the inability to cope with stress.

Another study [PDF] tends to put other myths about spousal survival to a test. in this study, Deborah Carr discovered that:

...the closer the marital relationship, the more depressed both men and women were likely to be after their spouse died. She also found that surviving spouses who were better off economically, as measured by home ownership, were likely to be more depressed than peers who lived in apartments or retirement communities. "Those who own a home may do worse because they have the added strain of caring for a house," Carr speculates. "They may be more socially isolated, lonely, and even afraid of living in a home alone, compared to surviving spouses who live in apartments and have neighbors close by."

I worry about dad. A lot. Dad and mom had a very close relationship, and mom took care of everything in and around the house, including the bills. Dad had to learn how to do laundry, and he had to re-learn how to balance the checkbook. He also had to learn how to cook, although he always made a mean pot of beans.

But, I worry. It appears that the six-month and eighteen-month marks are the most crucial times. We're still three months out from the six-month mark, which puts him at higher risk, supposedly, right before the Christmas holidays. That juxtaposition alone is a stressful thought for me.

If you've read the introduction and other materials, you know that dad has a heart problem. What I've not mentioned -- except to friends on Facebook -- is that dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer this past February, just four months before mom died. He's supposedly doing well, but he's not in the clear.

I don't want to be writing a sequel about being my dad's caregiver. I hope and pray that dad can survive and thrive through the next year. I'll do all I can to help, but I'll need help in determining what's best for him. Hopefully, this is just another chapter in my current story.