I didn’t get much done last night because around 5 or 6pm (I’m going with 5 because it was still daylight out) I got a panicked Facetime from Dad. I guess he’d been in the hospital with a panic attack since Saturday sometime. He just got home that (Wednesday) afternoon. They would not give him any of the medication that he was on except his panic meds. No diabetic medicine or anything. For three days. Then there was the lovely doctor he dealt with. The one who got mad at him because he could not find any words to describe what was happening to him or what he was feeling.
He was doing this during our conversation. I tossed out words and he would either grab them and go with them or shake his head and continue to search for the right one. He also got lost mentally. He would lose track in the conversation of what he was saying. We would back track mentally and see if we could find the thread. The more we talked the less this happened.
What seemed to calm him the most was talking about me and what was going on here. He would listen and ask questions and I would respond then go on with the story. After a while he could talk about himself without having too much issue. He even thinks that he can figure out what started the whole panic attack to begin with. He thinks that when he was drying off from the shower and feeling the lack of muscle in his legs it scared him. I could see that it still did so I recommended small exercises he could so with bigger cans and asked him if he could find something that resembled a gallon of milk container (they don’t use much plastic up there in Montreal so they don’t have regular plastic gallon milk jugs like we do here). My logic was if he could not get his hands around the soup can then he could use the handle on the jug and he could also adjust the weight of the jug on his own. He can add and subtract water to the container to suit his needs as he gained more strength in his arms. I also recommended that he get one of those exercise bands to work his legs while he is sitting down. I demonstrated a few things he could do. He was very excited because he wasn’t going to lose his balance doing any of it.
I told him to start with five minutes a day. He looked at me. He was no good at keeping track of time. I suggested that he find a five minute YouTube video and exercise until that was done. Then he could watch another because he’d done his exercises. His face lit up. He could do that.
We hung up around 10pm last night. He felt so much better. I told him to take his nighttime meds and try to get some sleep. I told him his body chemistry was off because of them not giving him his meds at the hospital and to give himself a few days to get back in balance. He agreed and we will talk again on Friday or Saturday. We also developed a plan if he really has to talk and I’m not readily available what to do.
I guess my point with all this is he just needed someone to talk to who was willing to listen. Someone who wasn’t going to get mad because he lost his train of thought or couldn’t find the right words. Someone who wasn’t going to call him stupid because he couldn’t express himself. He needed someone to let him take his time. No rushing. No judging. Offering easy solutions when they could. Just letting him be himself. Having stories to share helped a lot too. Something to get him out of his own head.
As our family members get older physically they don’t feel any older mentally. The only changes they really notice is memory. And once that is noticed then they start to really see everything else is getting older too. Where did the time go? Then they will start to look back to see if they really did live that life that has gone by so fast. That’s when depression can start to sneak in, with regrets. We need to be able to take time from our everyday to talk to them. Maybe just once a week but that can be enough. But they need to know they aren’t alone. They aren’t invisible because they are old.