Caregiver’s Diary: Spring Is Here

Spring Is Here

I went to see my 88 year old widowed father at Serenity Towers, his rather splendid retirement home in Niagara. He’s getting along better there, although he still complains of deadly boredom (this in spite of being invited to join several rather rigourous bridge tables). When he’s bored he drinks. And when he drinks, he falls.

It’s our biggest worry. He fell several times before we got him home from the Maritimes, and he’s fallen once at Serenity Towers. So far, no more damage has been done than some scrapes and bloodletting, but at his age, his next fall will break a hip, and that’s a real downer..

Whenever I go see him, I take a picture of his fridge. Big bottle of vodka, big bottle of gin, couple of big bottles of white wine, a box of red wine. No food. Oh, some Guinness for health, I suppose.

Remonstrating is futile. We aren’t here to watch him, no one can stop him having another. We’ve told him not to get out of bed too fast if he’s had a drink, and  to keep a flashlight by his bed. Frankly, for a feeble old man, his tolerance for alcohol amazes me. But then, I had a pretty amazing tolerance once, too.

I’m a friend of Bill’s. So is youngest brother. It runs in the family. And we get it from Dad. He grew up in a generation when cocktails took the place of dinner, and well-bred people drank when the kids were in bed.

A glass of wine at lunch, a martini before dinner, and wine with dinner have turned into basically round-the-clock drinking, unless he’s doing something interesting like looking at the obits, or driving to the liquor store.

There’s no point in him quitting. It would kill him faster than the booze will in the end. We can try harm reduction, but a glass of white wine at lunch always seems to lead to a martini at dinner, and after, too.

There’s no point in worrying either, it’s what he does to pass the time. Despite his feebleness in general, there’s nothing really wrong with him, and he could go on being a bored bridge-playing drunk for another ten years, who knows. Anyway, spring is here, he’s a little more chipper than he was, he’s gaining weight, and he’s driving again. Look out world!