When I walk into my parent’s apartment, sure enough, a wheelchair is sitting in the living room. After my brother asked me if I knew my dad was in a wheelchair, the search for the facts began.
I ask my parents a few questions and neither one can tell me where it came from, what happened and how long dad has been using the wheelchair. I just visited them four days before, so I know it hasn’t been that long.
I excuse myself and go visit the nursing staff. When I called yesterday, the women on the floor assured me my dad was not using a wheelchair.
I start to giggle as I walk to the nursing station. This is just weird. When I arrive and ask a few questions, the main floor manager tells me they haven’t seen him really use it, but I assure her that he can barely walk across the floor today. She confirms that my dad will see the doctor today. She said they initially thought it might be sciatica. I share with her that my dad broke his hip three years ago and has a pin and 4 screws — could something have happened? She is surprised when I share this news — “Your Dad didn’t mention that he had a pin or screws in his hip!”
I’m initially surprised they asked my Dad, but also know that treating them as capable and independent is important.
I’m thinking that information is in his medical record. Obviously something they haven’t even had a chance to look at. This isn’t a critical care issue. We talk through my concerns and then start to determine where the wheelchair came from. It wasn’t one of theirs and the head nurse realizes that their neighbor went to the hospital and has been there for two days. That jives with the timeline, so we think we solved the mystery of the wheelchair.
I share with the nurse that my over-riding concern is that we keep my Dad out of a wheelchair. I’ve heard that some dementia patients that have had accidents lose the ability to walk during their rehabilitation — due to their dementia they are unable to relearn how to walk. My mom barely weighs 100 pounds and won’t be able to help my Dad if he’s in a wheelchair. I’m worried he would have to move into the medical wing or even the dementia wing to get the care he would need given the wheelchair complication.
They only moved into Assisted Living a few months ago, I’m not ready to see my Dad decline so fast. Frightened.