Just when you think you’re starting to get a grip on this Alzheimer’s thing, it will raise its ugly head and remind you that you are not in charge.
Today, is one of those days. Both my Mom and Dad are sick from an upper respiratory bug. Although my brother and I are checking in on them frequently, we are still somewhat at the mercy of the caregivers at the assisted living facility. They do okay but clearly they are understaffed, over-worked, under-paid, and, they aren’t family. As painful as it is to see both parents sick, it’s a bit easier with Mom. She is easily able to describe how she feels and we can adjust our treatment accordinngly. Dad is proving to be a real challenge.
In the past 24 hours, Dad has retreated into the Alzheimer’s World. He is all but mute and seems content to sit with his head in his hands or, to stay in the bed. He has no interest in food and has all but refused the past three meals. Normally, that would not surprise us or trouble us. Most people don’t want to eat when they are sick. The problem is that Dad can’t tell us how ill he is and we can’t tell if his behavior is caused by the illness or the dementia. Knowing would make treatment decisions easier but for now, we are guessing.
It occurred to us this morning that if this is progression of the Alzheimer’s, then we will soon face the decisions we never wanted to face – to treat or not to treat; to feed or not to feed, etc. We will face the challenge of deciding quality or quantity. DNR’s (Do Not Resuscitate orders) are in place but it will be up to us to honor those orders. Can we? Will we?
The simple answer is yes, we will honor them but first, we have to determine what is illness related and what is Alzheimers and unfortunately, the person who knows can’t tell us. Until we know, we will wait, we will watch, and we will make sure that Dad knows he is loved and not alone. It is he best we have to give.