Taking Care of Pa

My aunt called me on Tuesday afternoon to tell me my grandpa was on his way to the ER in an ambulance.

He turned 88 on Saturday and has been living on his own. He does need a lot of attention from my dad, and dad takes care of his finances and meds. My parents went on a vacation to Alaska for two weeks, so my aunt hired a home health care service to visit 4 times a week. Pa agreed to it. On Monday he wouldn’t let them in. On Tuesday the Physical Therapist noticed he kept passing out. We had just thought he kept felling asleep since he doesn’t sleep well. She called 911. The paramedics came and did an EKG and didn’t like the looks of it so they took him to the hospital.

I went over there right away. When I talked to the doctor, he said that Pa’s heartbeat had stopped for a few seconds when he first got to the ER, so they were keeping him overnight for observation. I had to leave for IVF training, so I couldn’t stay all evening. While I was gone, before my aunt finished driving up from Iowa, his heart stopped 5 times in a row. They put him on the cardiologist’s list for a pacemaker the next day. Late in the night, his pulse dropped below 20, so they moved him to ICU.

My aunt was at the hospital with him during the day, so I went to work. He got his pacemaker in an uneventful surgery on Wednesday afternoon. They put his left arm in a sling and told him not to use it. He’s left handed and either doesn’t remember or refuses to obey, or a bit of both. I hope it heals right. On Wednesday night he was very confused and overnight need a 1-on-1 aide to keep him from getting out of bed, using his left arm and ripping off his monitoring wires. He still managed to pull out his IV. The transitional care wouldn’t take him on Thursday because of that, so he spent another night in the hospital. My husband and I spent all evening Wednesday and Thursday there with him and my aunt.

He was moved to transitional care on Friday, and seemed much better on Friday evening when I was there. He did decide at 8:30 it was bedtime, so we left him to it. We were there for just an hour yesterday because he kept felling asleep. It took about 20 minutes to convince him he needed a nap and he should lie down. (Not lay down, he corrected me).  My aunt drove back to Iowa yesterday. We have a party with my husband’s side of the family today so we can’t make it over today. I feel guilty. But I’ll be there tomorrow evening. My parents come back in 9 days.

We’ll need to get him into assisted living, and in my opinion, memory care. My aunt said she talked to some of his neighbor’s at his senior condo building on Saturday and they advised we not to let him live on his own anymore. They had been finding him wandering around outside at night, claiming he was waiting for a ride to church. We did know about a couple times he did that, but thought it was his blood pressure medicine that he was talking multiple times a day making him confused. My dad started monitoring his meds and we thought it was better, but apparently it wasn’t.

When he has lucid periods, he seems to understand that this is necessary, but then an hour later he wants to know when he can go home. It’s a very difficult time.


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