As the last vanguards of the Greatest Generation pass, 7 things to know when caring for a parent

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My father-in-law passed away last month, just days shy of his 99th birthday. He lived with us for 13 years. He was a great man, a World War II veteran, loved his wife and raised three children.

As his vascular dementia worsened, unlike Alzheimer’s disease, his long-term memory remained intact almost to the end. His wife showed him a familiar movie. “The Godfather” was played most often, followed by “Patton.”

His parents were born in Sicily and spoke only Sicilian until he attended public school in New York. The actors of “The Godfather” were taught how to speak the dialect. After one of those scenes, I asked him if he understood it.

Home care is less expensive than sending your parent to a facility, and your loved one will always receive better care than a stranger. (St. Petersburg)

“Every word,” he replied with a smile.

Remembering America’s Greatest Generation

And as a Seabee in the U.S. Navy, my father-in-law landed at Normandy a week after the invasion. He remembers the first night he landed. “They were beating the Germans in Cherbourg,” he said, imagining a distant war.

“Did you land on the beach? Or did you use Mulberry Harbor?” I asked.

“The beach.”

“How long has it been since you had your first hot meal?”

“Oh, right away.”

“First day?”

“Yes,” he said confidently.

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Two weeks after he landed, the German garrison at Cherbourg surrendered, and he stormed in with a Seabee force to clear the port so that the Allies could transport the large quantities of supplies needed to crush Hitler’s Reich. Extensive damage repaired.

shaving etc.

Four years ago, my father-in-law became unable to take care of himself. I bought him two electric razors. One is a foil for trimming your beard and hair, and the other is a rotary for a close shave.

One night, the security camera stopped working. Instead, her daughter knocked on her bedroom door just after 2 a.m. “Pop-Pop is in the kitchen!” she said.

I tried to give him a dignified shave, like you would get it done at a barber. I wrapped a towel around his neck as he sat in his electric easy chair, covered his chest, removed his glasses, and bent down to shave. When I finished, I heated a wet towel in the microwave and gave her a hot towel treatment. He always took a deep breath.

late night wandering

For several years, he would get stuck when he got out of bed, and when his legs would swell and become too heavy to put back into bed, he would just stare at his feet for hours. He was fidgeting and fussing non-stop at night. Sometimes he would pace around his room and our surveillance camera would alert us and call us into his room and push him back into bed. He managed to take off his clothes frequently.The aftermath was unpleasant – especially at 3am.

A 100-year-old and a 98-year-old World War II hero who fought in the Battle of the Bulge are now grand marshals of the Philadelphia Parade.

adult diapers

At this stage we learned that not all adult diapers are created equal. Low-quality ones won’t drain urine properly and leave elderly people’s skin vulnerable. However, there are high-quality 12-hour diapers available for about $300 per month. But the less you change your bedding, the more it’s worth it.


My wife would often take out his dirty clothes and pre-treat them with disinfectant in the bathtub. She transferred her clothes to a plastic bucket and moved them to her washing machine. It weighed 40 pounds or so and I moved it for her when I was around. Her back condition is worse than mine.

hire a familiar

Eventually, he could no longer walk eight feet from his easy chair to bed in the evening.

I helped him up and went to bed and said, “Are you ready to march?” I will ask.

“Yes,” he answered, sometimes with enthusiasm.

I pulled out the marching rhythm and said, “Yoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ”

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He stood up straighter, put my right hand under his left shoulder, and said, “Your left! Your left, right, left, right, left, two, three, four…two, three, four!” I did. I screamed the rhythm the Army had taught me, and we shuffled to his bed together as he mumbled along with me.

Sometimes he would say, “I didn’t know you knew how to call Cadence.”

One time, “Patton” was playing and I forgot to turn off the TV before marching him to bed. General Patton was fighting in Sicily. It was raining cannon fire. After sitting his father-in-law on the bed, he turned around and saw the sounds of war blaring from the TV. “You’d better not do that,” I said, “you’ve already done that once.”

He smiled and said: “I did it once. Yeah. I did it once, and I did it again.”

But my military service once hurt him. He thought one day that his navy clothes were missing from his closet. He told his wife that he was sure I threw them away because I was in the Army and hated the Navy.

Security camera limitations

His last big adventure occurred just before he entered hospice care, and soon, for the last seven months of his life, he never left the hospital bed we brought him home.

One night, the security camera stopped working. Instead, her daughter knocked on her bedroom door just after 2 a.m. “Pop-Pop is in the kitchen!” she said.

We came out in a hurry. He was sitting in a chair staring at his feet. The 4,000-calorie frosted fancy cookies for his wife’s birthday were gone, with crumbs left everywhere. He even tore off a few cups of high-quality herbal tea in high-quality silk teabags made by his wife. This was a rare consolation. I thought it was similar to trail mix.

Camera replays showed my father-in-law moving like a ninja, smoothly getting out of bed and storming the kitchen without a walker. The next morning, his exhaustion was no worse. Although it certainly was. That night, as I drove home from work, I struggled to stay awake during my 45-minute commute.

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Please be careful about elderly facilities

In speaking with several hospice care workers, we heard terrible stories about convalescent facilities. Residents were left on the floor for hours at a time, often with torn diapers. These properties often have nice “show” furniture in the front reception area, designed to create a clean and dignified atmosphere, but for residents it is simply a stage off-limits. It’s just that.

Not everyone has the capacity to provide the necessary parental care. However, home care is less expensive than sending a parent to a facility and always provides better care for a loved one than a stranger. My father-in-law was surrounded by his family and pets and felt loved and safe.


We conceive, we are born, and we die, except for Enoch and Elijah.

The point of life is what you do while you’re breathing air.

Some of us have hope. Many people push it out of their heads. Either way, the end is near for everyone.




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