Mother was in town a week ago – she flew in Friday, we flew to a family wedding Saturday and then back on Sunday, and she stayed until Wednesday so she would have time to visit Dad. On Monday night, she and I went to dinner with Dad. Most of the times we do this, it means taking him out of the secure part of his Assisted Living residence and into the main dining room where many of the other residents are also in wheel chairs and the wait-staff knows them by name and remembers what they like to drink or whether they want their salad before or after their meal. But we were celebrating. So we wanted to do something different.
The reason we were celebrating is that my birthday was coming up, and my parents would always take me out to dinner for my birthday (most years, it was the week before or the week after, since we had to time it with when they could come 1/2 way across the country to visit). Mom couldn’t stay through the whole week, but wanted to take me out. I really wanted Dad to come along, so we made arrangements to sign him out that night.
When the rest of the residents in his wing were headed into their dining room, we wheeled him out to my car. I positioned his chair near the door, set the brake, and helped lift him to a standing position, shuffle his feet around, and sit in the front seat. It isn’t an easy task, since he can’t stand on his own for very long. I have to hold him under his arms, and try to keep him from sitting down too soon. Fortunately, I was able to get him into the car without too much trouble – the biggest issue was that the wheel chair he was in was a loaner (we are waiting for a new one that the doctor has ordered). There was no brake on one side and a faulty one on the other. So the chair kept moving when he was trying to get out of it and then back in it when we got to the restaurant.
It was early enough that the restaurant wasn’t crowded, and they seated us in a back room that was quiet and not too overwhelming for Dad. The food was wonderful (Italian) and the portions were generous. In fact, none of us finished what we ordered, so I had leftovers to bring home. He continues to have a pretty good appetite, so he ate well, but as I said, the portions were large, so we didn’t blame him for not finishing!
It came time to leave, so we reversed the process of getting him into the car and then back into his chair when we got back to his residence. All in all, it was a good evening. I am not sure how many more times we will be able to manage it without some additional help (Mom really doesn’t have the strength to help lift/hold him up). For now, I can do it because he is still able to help himself to some extent. I know the day will come that he really won’t be able to assist in the transfer process. Until then, I would like to take him out once a month or so. I am open to suggestions for restaurants that will work for our circumstance – a wheel-chair bound Alzheimer patient who gets very overwhelmed with too much visual/sound stimulation.