Bill's Journey

My Personal Experiences With In-Home Care

Before clicking on the link to this page, you may have asked yourself “Who is Bill and why do I want to know his journey?” Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Bill McIntyre, one of the owners of ComForCare Grand Rapids. Many times, when talking with a client’s family, I’ve found that my journey matches their own.

Why? Because my father was diagnosed with Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease in 2015. I felt my heart break as I sat through one of his doctor’s appointments with him. The doctor was administering some basic mental health questions, and dad was failing miserably. At least half of his answers were wrong! I wanted to scream at the doctor to stop embarrassing my dad, that he had had enough. My once witty father, who was a boiler engineer in his working days, couldn’t answer the most basic questions. I felt the door slam shut on dad’s future as the doctor administered his final test. The doctor drew a triangle, a square, and a circle on a piece of paper. He handed the clipboard over to my dad and asked him to place an “x” inside the triangle. My dad took the clipboard, looked at the shapes for a few moments, and clarified the question. “Draw an “x” in the triangle?” he asked. When the doctor confirmed, Dad confidently drew his “x” in the circle. My dad’s future drastically changed at this moment because this appointment was so my dad could get medical clearance to get his driver’s license reinstated. I know what it’s like to go before a judge and explain your father’s personal, private matters. What it feels like to have to auction tools & belongings that you remember using as a teenager, and to sell land that your dad loves dearly, all so you can pay for the care needed to take care of him.

Because this journey has been so tough and so stressful, I am more determined than ever to have ComForCare Grand Rapids be a group of professionals that families trust to take care of their family members. If I can be of any personal assistance, please email me at b.mcintyre@comforcare.com or call my cell phone at (616) 204-3750

The Diagnosis 

My father was diagnosed with Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease in 2015. The diagnosis was merely a formality, but it marked the beginning of a very tough journey that my family and I are still traveling.

On multiple occasions In 2015 and 2016, my brother Mike or I received phone calls from emergency rooms in different southern states saying that our dad had arrived via ambulance. He would be driving to or from his winter residence in Florida, not rest or hydrate properly, become disoriented, and then get stopped by police. On the fifth occasion of this happening, he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and we were given the official diagnosis of Dementia / Alzheimer’s disease. The diagnosis activated my father’s power of attorney, which stated that my brother Mike was to tend to my dad’s affairs.

Over the next several months, my dad fought my brother Mike tooth and nail on almost every issue, from having in-home care to whether or not he should be driving without a driver’s license. In September of 2017, out of frustration, my brother Mike asked me to intervene. A call to my attorney found that our only legal remedy was to petition the court to become my father’s guardian & conservator, which I did. On November 1st, I became my father’s guardian. Turns out this is just in time.

On Tuesday, November 7th I had called my father four times throughout the day, left messages, and not heard from him. Worried, I called his neighbor, who said the last time he had talked with my dad was two days earlier, on Sunday. The neighbor wasn’t at home when I talked to him, so I drove from my house in Greenville to Dad’s house in Newaygo. I found him in a terrible condition. He was sitting up on his bed in his boxer shorts and a t-shirt and was incoherent at best. He wasn’t able to tell me how long he had been sitting there or when the last time he had eaten or drank anything. He couldn’t tell me his name and didn’t recognize me. His dog was sitting in the bed beside him and was excited to see me. When I saw that the dog had pooped in the bed while sitting next to my dad, I knew dad was in trouble. I dialed 911.

My dad spent 8 days in the hospital, followed by 11 days in a skilled rehab. Unfortunately, his cognitive abilities did not return to his previous baseline. The doctors and therapists recommended that Dad not be left alone, even for a few hours.

I made the tough decision to move Dad into a Memory Care Facility. The first facility was fabulous, but it was not a good fit. Dad did not care for the food and would not socialize with the staff or the other residents. I moved him to a retirement home near where I live, and that has turned out to be a better choice. Because it’s closer, my wife or I can drop off his dog for visits. Dad likes the food and even likes the staff.

I don’t mind sharing that this journey has been exhausting and is far from over. To pay for his care, I had to auction off his personal property. This included his fishing boat, tractors, and tools that he had spent a lifetime collecting. I also sold his trailer in Florida and his truck. This week I’m finalizing the sale of his Newaygo property. I’ve had to keep meticulous records for the court, and had to go to court twice to get the sale of his Newaygo property approved because the offer I had received wasn’t within 10% of what the local township thinks it’s worth. My father hasn’t made anything less difficult. As his physical health has increased, he keeps insisting that he will return to Florida. Just last weekend he told my wife that he was going to live with a friend of his over the summer, then return to the nursing home in the winter. When I bring him to the store, he buys things he says he needs but already has. Add to this countless doctor’s appointments and a cataracts surgery, and you get a stress I never intended to put on my family or my business partner.

The Opening of ComForCare Grand Rapids In-Home Care

Since February of 2017, my business partner Mike Merren and I have worked to make ComForCare Grand Rapids a place where clients and employees are treated like family. I’m proud of the family-like service we provide. On nights and weekends, our phones get answered by an owner. When you meet a caregiver for the first time, an owner is typically there to introduce you to each other.

If there is anything that my ComForCare Grand Rapids family and I can do to help your family on your journey, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (616) 204-3750 or by email at b.mcintyre@comforcare.com.

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