A.S. November 26, 2008

Geriatric Interview

The geriatric person I interviewed is my father. His name is Danny and he is currently 66 years old. This assignment gave me an opportunity to discuss things we have never touched on before. The life history portion of the interview was very interesting because it allowed me to realize how different we both are, because the life styles have changed tremendously fifty to sixty years ago. My father was the oldest of four children so he spent most of his childhood taking care of his younger siblings. Some responsibilities were to cook and make sure they ate on time, clean the house, do laundry, and water his father’s plants. His mother, my grandmother, was not home much because she was a gambler so he had to pretty much take her place at home. This, however, was beneficial to him because he was able to learn how to cook delicious Thai food during this period and used it to make a living later on in life. Despite all the work he did around the house, he did not receive an allowance so he had to take little jobs outside the house to be able to save up for toys and school supplies.

As the interview moved on into the portion about his school days, I could see his eyes sparkle with excitement reliving the memories. Both his elementary and high schools were close to home so he had the luxury of going home for lunch breaks. On other days, when his friends bought him lunch, he would stay on campus and play a round of soccer or spent time in the school’s library. He read a lot more than other children at his age and was seen as a nerd to his peers. He did exceptionally well in math and science and continued to go on to receive his Associates in Science degree from Himadon Jarern University of Bangkok in Thailand.

Life was tough for the teenage Danny because in Thailand, funds such as grants or financial aids were not available to students, so he was not able to continue on to get his Bachelor’s degree. He then decided to find a good job, something that did not require a high degree, and landed a spot as a waiter in a restaurant within the Siam Intercontinental Hotel, a five-star hotel located in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. Here, he developed his English speaking skills because he had to deal with foreigners and tourists. Life took a huge turn when one of his friends asked him to come to New York to work in a restaurant he was opening and my father made the decision that he was going to leave Thailand for a while and give America a try. He came to America at age twenty-three when gas was only a quarter per gallon, lived and worked in New York until his early forties, and has made Florida his new home since 1993.

He met his wife in Queens, New York, and after dating for four years, married her in 1981 and started his family there. He did not want children but his wife desperately loved kids so they agreed to have one child. They both went on to have three children in total, all of which were born in New York. He never thought he would ever hear himself say it, but he enjoys being a father. One of the things he is most proud of is the fact that he has a family and everyone is still living under the same roof with him. He mentioned that he could not imagine living by himself because he is so used to having his wife and children around. If the three kids were to get married and move out, he hopes to at least have them live nearby him and his wife.

After working full time for over 35 years, last 12 years as a sushi chef in Florida, he is finally retired. It was very difficult at first to accept the fact that he is no longer in the physical shape to work and provide for his family as he used to do in the past. It took a lot of convincing and support from his loved ones to accept the fact and retire. It has been a year since retirement and his life has changed tremendously. The days finally became calmer and longer. He now gets to actually live and enjoy the four bedroom house that he has been paying mortgage for the last six years. He also gets to cook, clean, garden, stay with his dogs, take afternoon naps, watch movies, read, and enjoy his Buddha, stamp, and coin collections. Most importantly, he now spends most of his days with his wife of 27 years, whereas he used to only have time with her one day out of the week. He said he forgot what it felt like to live life and do the things that he enjoyed without having to worry about work. His middle daughter received her Bachelor’s degree in graphic design in 2007 and his oldest will graduate from the dental hygiene program in 2009. Things are falling into place for him and he has never thought retirement could be this great.

His medical history reveals that he has controlled hypertension with a history of stroke and heart attack that occurred at the same time back in 2003. He is now under a care of a physician and sees the doctor every three months. His current medications include Coumadin, Enalapril, anti-gout medications, vitamins, and occasionally pain relievers. He used to smoke cigarettes but quit 25 years ago when his first child was born. He does not drink alcohol because it interacts with his medications and tries to take long walks around the neighborhood 3-4 times a week.

When asked about his dental history he admitted that he did not pay much attention to his oral health when he was younger. As a result, he now wears dentures and only has three natural teeth remaining. The dentures make it hard for him to chew hard, sticky foods so he tend to eat softer foods like bananas, rice, cereal, and oatmeal, both for the texture and to help lower bad cholesterol. He regrets losing his natural teeth and likes to advise younger people to pay attention to their oral health and save their teeth. Before his daughter entered the dental hygiene program, he was unaware that his dentures too need proper cleaning and used to wear them to sleep. He feels a lot better about his mouth now that he has someone to go to for questions and concerns. He is glad his daughter chose to enter the dental field and help patients retain their natural teeth because he knows first-hand how difficult living with dentures can be.

This interview made me look at my father from a different point of view. I never thought of him as anything else besides being the best father I could ever ask for. It made me realize that he went through childhood as well as the teenage stage just like I did. It was interesting to see the differences in economics and cultures back then compared to the present. I am also reminded that I am very lucky to be in this country with the conveniences of technologies such as cellular phones and the internet that my father could not have even imagined. Like my father, living with medical conditions and having to take medications everyday of your life is probably not easy but that is the reality of most geriatrics. Also, some people end up living by themselves as they age so it is probably stressful to be physically compromised and neglected at the same time. This project has given me an opportunity to know my father better, as well as more understanding of what a geriatric goes through as they enter the later stages of their lives. I will take all that I have learned into consideration to better serve my geriatric clients.