Hey Everyone: I hope you all had a fantastic New Year! It’s 2015 and we are about to embark on a whole new year that is a bank slate for you to start a fresh.
We had a quiet New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s day I went and saw my Dad. I haven’t seen him since July so I was way over due. I picked up my Aunt and we headed down the Cape for the day.
Dad lives in an assisted living facility. It is a really beautiful old building that looks like a house and is very nice. It’s small with only about 20 people and 95% of them being women.
Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2005. His mother had it and his father’s Mother and the signs were there that he was also afflicted. My mother kept telling us he was really failing but I didn’t see it.
On the Christmas of 2008 Dan and I were at my parent’s for the holiday as we always are. I brought my Dad his usual box of home made chocolate chip cookies and 15 minutes later he couldn’t find them. We looked all over the house for them and I never did see them again. My Mom told me this was what he does now. He loses things instantly and she finds them in crazy places.
This was my first realization of what was about to become my Dad’s new normal.
Dad, to me, was always so smart. He had his Master’s degree, his CPA and he owned his own business. They had a great life with houses in Maine, Florida and Cape Cod and they traveled to each house as they pleased.
When I saw Dad on Thursday I ordered his lunch because he forgot what he usually gets. I ordered him a turkey club and he didn’t know to pick up the sandwich and eat it. He picked each element out of the bread and ate it with his fingers. When my Aunt suggested using a knife and fork he wasn’t sure what she meant.
They tell you that Alzheimer’s patients don’t know that they can’t remember.
That’s bullshit. My Dad is aware of everything he once had and no longer does. He tells me all the time he can’t remember things anymore and he longs for his old life back.
His short term memory is shot but his long term is ok. He has a hard time carrying on a conversation now because he can’t remember anything to talk about. Our conversations have become very one sided.
Or if he does say something he says it repeatedly. It broke my heart once when he said ” i think I have told you this 4 times now already. I drive myself crazy, it must make you want to scream.”
No, Dad, it doesn’t. I accepted my Dad’s Alzheimer’s early on and have tried to make it easier for him. It doesn’t bug me when he tells me something time and again or when I have no idea what he is talking about.
What do I care if he tells me something again? If he isn’t making sense to me I try and respect what he’s telling me because HE knows what he means. He’s not crazy, he just can’t articulate what is in his mind out of his mouth.
It isn’t easy to watch a man I so respected become childlike and need protection. However, in some ways the Alzheimer’s has made him a kinder, softer person. He’s more loving and open about it and the stress of life that he used to have isn’t there anymore so he isn’t as on edge with stress as he used to be.
I can still see my “old” Dad in him sometimes, but I fully accept who he is and am just so thankful to still have him.
I am showing these pictures of him not to ridicule him, but to show his playful and happy self.
He is happy and for that I am truly grateful.