The new shower looks good, there’s a shower chair as well so the Goldfish doesn’t have to stand up and it will be easy to keep the shower area clean. The Goldfish says he likes it but can’t remember if he has actually used it. Step-monster says he has.
I call social services and the CC comes to assess the Goldfish’s care needs and how they might be met. I said I thought he needed someone coming in for personal care – washing, dressing and shaving in the mornings. The step-monster lied through her teeth, telling the woman everything was just fine and they could manage perfectly without any help. At one point I cut in and pointed out this whole process was started when she was crying she couldn’t cope and wanted to send dad to the residential home for a shower. She just smiled and said she thought they were managing very well.
I walked the CC to her car, apologizing for the step-monster’s refusal to accept help. She said not to worry, she’s seen it all before, step-monster (she didn’t call her that, of course) is in denial and will come round.
The sun shone for our outing this week so I packed a picnic and went for a run on country roads and through part of the Galloway Forest to a lovely riverside picnic place. The Goldfish remembered driving those roads when he was working and commented, as usual, on the trees: not the Sitka Spruce in the forest, which he dislikes as much as I do, but on the broad-leaved trees by the roadsides. He always liked trees and it is lovely that he can still identify them, hasn’t forgotten any of their names and takes real pleasure in seeing them.
When we started to drive home he lost his bearings and didn’t recognise the road. “Are you sure you know the way?”
“Yes, dad, I know the way. We’ll reach the main road soon.”
“Oh, well, that’s all right then. I’m glad you know where you are going.” He looks anxiously out of the window. “Are you sure you know the way?”
The moment we came to a junction for the main road he knew where we were and relaxed.
I know it was a hot day, which may account for it, but there was a distinctly whiffy aroma in my car, which lingered even after I took him home. Mentioned it to Wee-sis who said she was mortified when she took the Goldfish for a chest x ray recently. “When he took his shirt off, the smell was terrible. He hadn’t had a shower that morning and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d not had a proper wash for days. I don’t believe he is using the shower at all.”
The Goldfish would be mortified if understood his lack of hygiene. Finally I plucked up the courage to speak to the step-monster about the Goldfish’s personal hygiene. She said he has a good wash every day. I said: “He smells.”
“Do you mean, do you mean… Do you mean his pants?”
“No, I mean body odour, an unwashed, unpleasant dirty body smell.”
“Well, he has a good wash at the sink every day.”
“Why doesn’t he have a shower? What’s the problem with the shower?”
“He doesn’t want to use it.”
“You mean he can’t use it. It really is way past time to have someone in to help with showers.”
“I don’t want a lot of strangers coming in to the house.”
“But if you can’t manage to help dad have a shower we need to get someone in.”
“Would it be male carers?”
“I don’t know. We’ll have to discuss with the CC and see what she can do.”
“It’s just – well, you know your dad likes the ladies – it would be awful if he did something or said something inappropriate.”
Yes, the Goldfish always did like women around him and had a habit of putting his arm round a female waist but I’m fairly certain he’s extremely unlikely to do so with a carer – besides which, a carer would know how to deal with such a situation. He’s 87. I phone the CC to make an appointment.
In the meantime the mental health person came to do an assessment. When I arrived at the house to meet him the Goldfish looked really scruffy, unwashed and unshaven. When I mentioned it, the step-monster shrugged and said: “Well, he’s got all day.” Surely if he has a wash and shave in the morning it would help him feel a bit brighter?
As expected it was very clear his memory loss has worsened. Step-monster wittered on and on about him ‘doing fine’, despite what she was hearing. He managed to get the day of the week, the date, and the month and the season wrong and clearly had not the faintest idea who the Prime Minister is. How can she convince herself everything is fine? And that she is managing?
When the CC came to discuss dad’s personal care the step-monster started to insist they were ‘managing fine’. This time I wasn’t going to let her get away with it and told the CC that the Goldfish was often smelly, unwashed and unshaven – and the new shower was never used.
“Well, he can have a good wash at the sink,” said step-monster.
“He could if he knew what to do,” I replied, “but he no longer understands what he has to do to wash. He needs someone to help him and if you can’t do it then we need to have someone coming in.”
She finally agreed to have support workers come in but only three mornings a week – and not before 10am because she likes to have some time to herself in the mornings. At least for three days a week the Goldfish will smell a bit sweeter. A small victory!