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He's 82, and not a healthy person at all. Has been in hospital for 7 weeks, following sudden oedema in his legs and breathing problems. Also has bad skin infection (sorry, TMI). While there he went from being frail but manageably mobile to incontinent, more frail, and confused. Rallied sufficiently to be discharged into the care of my also elderly but more mentally and physically robust mother last week. Doctors said they couldn't find anything serious wrong - tests for the usual suspects came back ok. Not depressed. Disaster - unable to get up from chair, unable to walk, go to loo, sit on stair lift, not eating, not talking, looking just terrible, very swollen and eyes vacant. Wet overnight several nights. Has gone back into hospital today, stretchered out of house with paramedics administering oxygen.
I don't really know what to think. I'm not looking for diagnosis, obviously - but has anyone seen this sort of thing with elderly people. Is this just what happens?
Thanks, bigchris, and for replying so quickly. I think he has given up. It's very sad to see it happening. I keep thinking that there will be a middle of the night phone call any time now. I can't really see him getting back to how he was a couple of months ago, which was copable with for him and my mum. I can only get to see them at weekends, unless a major crisis, so it's like being a rubbernecker in a way.
Tiger, I am so sorry. No wise words really, but I am dreading the time this happens to my parents - both of whom are now in their mid-70s (and my dear father has some quite serious health issues now). Really difficult for you that you can't be closer to him too - that must be so frustrating.
When my grandfather died I remember he just sort of resigned himself to dying - he had no serious underlying health issue, he just decided it was going to be the end and it was.
The confusion could be caused by not getting enough oxygen, in combination with the upheaval and change of surroundings. I'm sorry to say that this is also what happened to dh's gran towards the end of her life.
The hosp he's been at and has just gone back to is a small community hospital which seems to me to be more like a nursing home than a "proper" hospital. He's had heart tests - yes, I googled like mad when he was first ill - and he's fine on that front. I am in touch with his GP which is more helpful than not. If he doesn't improve (which looks likely) then he'll go to a bigger hosp which might be better, more proper geriatric support etc. It's the vagueness (the system, not dad) which is the trying thing, we're so used to being assertive, getting answers, then this is just like a big vague black hole.
If he is having bladder control problems, he may be limiting how much he drinks. If he does that, and gets dehydrated, then he will be very confused, and his mobility may also be worse. So worth checking that out. Some medication can also make confusion worse.
From bitter experience with my own Dad, it can take a lot of determination to get the medical system to pay attention and provide the support that both your parents need. My Dad has been deteriorating since the end of 2002,(he is 84) and has certainly had episodes as bad or worse than you describe. He is still alive and living at home, albeit with severe vascular dementia, and mobility so poor that Mum has to use a hoist to get him up and from chair to chair.
If the hospital can get your Father sorted out and stable, there is help if you know where to look. Dad gets attendance allowance, which covers some of the extra costs of his condition, and a carer comes in one morning a week, courtesy of the Princess Royal Trust for Carers. The NHS has supplied a hospital bed, and all sorts of odds and sods, including a commode. The district nurse pops in regularly to check his catheter, and also take the regular blood samples needed to check his Warfarin levels. Mum also pays for private nurses to come in every morning to get him up and dressed.
I do hope you get a bit more sense from the hospital this time. Our experience with the hospitals has been uniformly excellent, and they have pulled Dad back from a couple of very frightening states, including a pulmonary embolism last year. The local GP practice has been less impressive, but that is another story.
neversaydie - thank you for sharing your father's story. I'm sorry to hear of his illness.
I think we need to be pressing for my Dad to be assessed properly which will mean a proper hospital. I agree how hard it is to get the system to make sense and needless to say Dad isn't in a position to express any thoughts about his condition/care and my Mum is of the generation that doesn't challenge "the authorities". There seems to be the will to provide him with a sensible care package once/if he is home,and then we can look into other help (carers' trust, private nursing etc) but his medical condition has plummetted in the last few days, so that's on hold right now.
There is clearly a lot going on with your dad. I agree that he needs a proper assessment by a specialist team. There are so many possible causes of confusion in the elderly.
Do not underestimate the effect that the seven week hospital stay will have had on his mobility. I lost my mum a few years ago. Several years before she died, she had a fairly long stay in hospital. I couldn't believe the negative impact it had on her ability to walk. When she returned home she was also quite confused for a little while. We were fortunate in that the hospital had sorted out the medical issues so it was 'just' a case of her recuperating. In the end she did return to her normal self but her walking was never as good again.
I think you have a good plan. Get the medical issues sorted out (if only it was that easy)and then organise a care package. Good luck with it all.
Thanks for that. Have been heartened by the posts here. He's having some xrays tomorrow, on his legs - which have swollen again, and according to my mum "a specialist" is going to see him on Tuesday. Too weak and not specifically ill enough to be moved to a bigger hosp. Mum's homework is to find out who the specialist is and what s/he specialises in. Then we will see.
Thank you to all for your replies - this is a strange world.