My sister and I took dad to his doctor appointment a few weeks ago. We either take turns, or share in the multiple medical visits both of our parents have these days. The dentist, foot doctor, eye doctor, heart specialist, geriatrician, internist, and such, times two aging parents, keeps the wheels on our cars turning. Generally, though, Cheri and I go together to the big appointments, ones in which we know the doctor is going to need our observations and involvement to make good decisions. We are advocates in our parents health care, especially of late, dad. He’ll be 89 years old this April, and has congestive heart failure, early stage kidney failure, diabetes, and dementia. Although as his doctors say, “given his condition, he’s in pretty good condition.”
Lately though, he’s had two episodes of extreme weakness, followed by sleepiness, and then a total lack of memory about the event. The episodes last between 8-12 hours – long enough to worry us. Dad gave us his medical wishes, in writing, long before the dementia diagnosis, and won’t go to the hospital unless there is no alternative. And according to dad, the best alternative at this point, is no medical intervention. He has a DNR (do not resuscitate), in our state it is part of the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) . Therefore, since he was not hospitalized for the events, we were both anxious to hear his doctor’s take on the symptoms. It turns out, it’s a mystery to him too.
The events could be heart-related, or low blood pressure, or a combination of things. We are discontinuing one medication and possibly adding another We are also going to monitor his pulse and blood pressure daily, noting any irregularities. The bottom line, his doctor stressed, given dad’s age, health condition, and wishes, sometimes the best course of action is decreasing medications and doing what’s necessary to best maintain his comfort level and enjoyment of life for as long as possible. We are grateful to have a good medical support team for dad, and one that's respectful of his well-being and his personal wishes. The next appointment is in a few weeks, we’ll see how things go. In the meantime, we take it a day at a time. And every day is a gift.