Corona has been a whirlwind in our family. I decided to have my father move in with me, so that we could take care of him better.
The reasons for this were several. He started to have a caregiver come to his home, but once Corona took over, we decided to cancel his care, since it was a source of infections in his area and his caregiver worked in multiple homes and facilities.
Having him live with us, allowed us to make sure he got three square meals a day and his primary needs were met. It also made sure he wouldn't get isolated. After the first few days of quarantine, he seemed sad and anxious. We thought having him live with us, would liven things up a little, especially with our kids around. The kids didn't disappoint.
In fact the whole experience was a revelation. The existing model of outsourcing our parents needs to a hired caregiver or institutional setting seems archaic now. I get that the current situation is not "real". That eventually I'll be going back to work and so will my wife. That the kids will be back in school. But you know what, there's something to be said for the re-emergence of the extended family unit.
Not every day was smooth for sure. Some of his habits annoyed us. Some of his personality traits graded on our nerves. But then again, some of my habits and personality traits grate on my wife and children's nerves as well. It doesn't mean I get shipped out (although plenty of people do get divorced and kids do look forward to living on their own).
Regardless, there was something to be said for the whole experience. It seemed natural. It seemed authentic. It seemed human.
I get that if my father had issues with toileting and showering, perhaps my view would change. If he had alzheimers and was delusional and required 24X7 care, my most benevolent intentions may get a reckoning with reality. But given all the afflictions of loneliness and depression among fully functioning seniors, our arrangement made it seem unnecessary.
My father despite being relatively healthy, in my view anyways, still needed some assurance that, even when left alone, he'd have access to help. We went to AARP and got him a medical alert system with fall detection. This gave him confidence to be left alone. It gave us the peace of mind to leave him on his own.
We also set up a Ring video doorbell, so when we were out and he was home alone, we could see who was at the door.
Lastly we got him a cell phone, so that when he went out on his own for a walk, we were always just one phone call away.
We also modified our home somewhat to add a few safeguards. We added hand rails in the shower and by the toilet. Put in a slip proof mat in the shower / bathtub to prevent him from slipping. Lastly we added a hand railing / banister to the other side of the stairway.
So as you can see, it didn't take much to make our home senior safe. But the best part of it all was the inclusion of my father in the family. He seemed so much healthier and more vibrant. Because were a family unit, we go on walks together as a family. He watches over the kids in the backyard. He reads bedtime stories to the kids and he's even in the midst of teaching one of them how to play chess. Lastly, we gave him responsibility over the front yard, since he's always loved gardening. So he spends a lot of time watering, weeding (that part he instructs the kids on) and planting.
All in all, the whole process of dumbing life down to its core, which is really about deriving happiness from deep, loving, authentic relationships, really got a chance to shine during isolation.
He's moved back into his place for the last couple of weeks and we miss him. We've discussed him returning back to our place come august. I think we're all looking forward to it.