Steve Guttenberg Practiced on a ‘Rubber Hose’ While Learning to Be a Dialysis Tech to Treat Dad at Home (Exclusive)

In a new memoir, the 'Police Academy' star details how he dropped everything to care for his ailing father, and even trained to be a dialysis tech so he could treat him comfortably at home

<p>Sophie Elgort</p> Steve Guttenberg in 2024

Sophie Elgort

Steve Guttenberg in 2024

When actor Steve Guttenberg's father Stanley was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2018, the Police Academy and Three Men and a Baby star didn't hesitate to drop everything and drive from Los Angeles to Phoenix once a week to escort him to his dialysis treatments.

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"There was no thought to it at all,” he tells PEOPLE, of making sure his dad always had a family member on hand for his care. “My dad was my idol. He taught me how to drive and to shave, how to talk to girls, how to tie my shoes and be respectful, kind, thoughtful. He was my greatest teacher.”

Related: Steve Guttenberg Is Open to Third 'Three Men and a Baby': 'I Still Believe There's Another Movie'

Now Guttenberg, 65, is honoring Stanley his new memoir Time to Thank: Caregiving for My Hero, which tells the story of his upbringing and being with his dad during his final days.

Steve Guttenberg's new memoir Time to Thank: Caregiving For My Hero
Steve Guttenberg's new memoir Time to Thank: Caregiving For My Hero

It also details just how devoted he was — in 2020, when Guttenberg and his sister Susan learned they could train to be dialysis techs so they could treat their dad at home, they jumped at the chance.

Related: 'Three Men and a Baby' Star Steve Guttenberg Marries News Anchor Emily Smith in Intimate Ceremony

But it wasn't easy. "We trained on a thin rubber hose at night to make sure the needle didn't go out the other side," he says of their months-long training. They also trained directly on their dad, under the watchful eye of a tech.

<p>Courtesy Steve Guttenberg</p> Steve Guttenberg and Stanley Guttenberg in 2010

Courtesy Steve Guttenberg

Steve Guttenberg and Stanley Guttenberg in 2010

“I’d take my time with the needle and say, ‘Don’t worry, Dad, it will be okay,’ and he’d say, ‘You’re making me nervous!’" Guttenberg recalls with a laugh.

“Sometimes you’ll do things for your loved one you never thought you’d do,” he adds.

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A year after they began home treatment, Stanley died following a fall at age 89, leaving Guttenberg bereft but grateful for the time they got to spend together in his final years. Now he wants to encourage others to do the same for their aging parents, if they have the time and means to do so.

“If you have the ability to care for your loved one at home, you should do it,” he says.

“To have them look at you in the morning instead of someone they don’t know? It’s pretty great. He would look at me and my sister and say, ‘Thank you both for doing this.’ But it was always like, ‘No, thank you for being our dad.’”

Time to Thank by Steve Guttenberg is available now, wherever books are sold.

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