Tag Archive | Alzheimer’s dementia

Daddy’s Hands

handsWriting hasn’t been a priority lately.  You may have noticed.  Well, you probably didn’t notice and that’s okay/  If you’ve ever read my blog it was ,most  likely because someone you love has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and will understand. I haven’t written because there really wasn’t much to say.  Not much has changed.

While I wasn’t writing, I have continued to grieve over the loss of my Dad.  No, he hasn’t died but he is every bit as gone as if that were true.  Dad has lost a lot of ground.  His communication is random and mostly a garbled mix of sounds that once were parts of words.  He still smiles if you act like you told him something funny and on a really good day, you can tell him who you are and he will say something like “that[‘s nice”.

I have become obsessed with Daddy’s hands.  I think of his hands often and remember the gentleness of his touch.  Sometimes late at night I flash back to better days when his strong grip on my shoulder was as close to a hug as he could muster at the time.  Mostly I remember him walking up behind my mother and scratching her back tenderly.  It was how he said “I love you” to her without words.

My Dad wore two rings; one on each hand.  He never took them off.  One, his wedding band and the other a ruby Masonic ring that was passed down through the family when he became a Mason.  Dad lost the ruby ring about a year ago and he has lost so much weight that we took his wedding band home before it too was lost.  Even without the rings, I am still obsessed with Daddy’s hands.  The hands are all that physically resemble this man who has held my heart in those hands for almost 60 years and oh how I miss him.

It’s funny how something as simple as the sight of those hands can trigger a lifetime of memories. And I find myself wondering if Alzheimer’s will one day steal those too.

Brrrr….It’s Cold Outside

snow 1-30-03bIt’s -11 degrees outside this morning.  That’s too cold for any living creature to be outside in the elements.

As I sit here in my warm little home sipping a steaming hot cup of coffee, there is an elderly  man lost.  He has Alzheimer’s and has wandered from his home. All the local media outlets are airing his photo and asking the public to be on the lookout for him but the chances of him surviving are slim.  My heart aches for his family and I pray that someone, somewhere, saw him and took him in.  I pray he is safe and warm because this could so easily have been my Dad – before we got smart.

If you have a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, please contact your local law enforcement.  Ask if they are enrolled with Project Lifesaver.  And if they are, get your loved one registered with them.  To learn more, click the link below.  If the gentleman mentioned above had been registered, he would be safely back with his family.  It could have saved his life.

Project Lifesaver: Saving Lives of At-Risk Youth and Adults

Five Things Care-givers Need to Survive lzheimer’s Disease

When a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, life demands change.  Can you guess who has to change?  Yeah, it’s you, the care-giver.   The person with Alzheimer’s will constantly change but will have no control over the changes.  If you’re going to survive with your brain intact, you have to make the changes.

I’ve learned that there are five things a care-giver simply has to develop for themselves.

Courage.  It’s probably the most important asset of all.  With the future so uncertain you have to believe that you are going to be okay.  Remember that others have paved the way for you and are there to hold your hand.  Be brave!

Patience:  You’ll find that it takes your loved one longer to do everything. And, you can’t rush them.  It takes them longer to eat, longer to tell a story, longer to get dressed, and even longer to brush their teeth.   Try to rush them and you’ll pay the price.  They will take even longer or stop trying all together.  Slow down.  Take a deep breath.  And…wait for them!

A Place of Refuge:  We all need a place where we feel safe.  We need somewhere that shields and protects us from the pain of watching a loved one slowly lose their mental and physical ability to return love.  The work of a care-giver is exhausting.  Give yourself permission to retreat.  Take a break.  Renew!

Faith:  No matter what you think, in order to deal with the highs and lows of Alzheimer’s disease, you have to believe in something bigger than yourself.    You need a place you can turn to where you can lay it all down and walk away knowing that what will be, will be, and in the end, it will be alright.  Believe it!

A Sense of Humor:  As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, those little moments of joy become more and more random.  It’s so easy to get caught in the trap of worrying that each change is the beginning of the end.  What a waste of precious time.  Remember always that your loved one has retreated into a world all their own.  They can be happy there, if you let them.  Stop trying to test their memory.  Don’t try to force them back into your world.  It can’t be done.  Be bright.  Be happy.  Reassure them and laugh easily.  These are the days you will remember.  Make them happy!

 

No one will tell you it’s easy.  It’s not.  But here we are.  It hasn’t killed us yet.  If it doesn’t kill us, it will only make us stronger.  We will live to see another day and if we’re lucky, we will live long enough for science to find a successful treatment or, even a cure.  Be brave, be patient, take refuge and renew.  Have faith, and laugh when you can. 

 

 

 

False Hopes and Reality

Never think for a moment that making the right decision will make all your problems disappear.  It works for most things but certainly not when you’re dealing with Alzheimer’s dementia.  I hate this disease more every day.

We made the move to assisted living yesterday.  After only 12 hours, Dad’s bad behavior has escalated.  He is completely discombobulated.  Is that really a word?

To sit with him for even half an hour is exhausting.  He is hostile, confused to time and place, thinks he is in someone else’s house, and wants to go home but…can’t find his car.  There it is, the damn car again.  I am starting to feel like we’ve been fighting about the car my whole life and I’m 58 years old.

My mother’s heart is broken.  She loves her new home at the facility.  The people (staff and residents too) have been more than welcoming and are treating her like royalty.  And then, Dad pulls the rug out from under her with his constant repetitive questioning and yes, hostility.

The staff says we have to give this time and I know they are right.  I just don’t know how much more time my Mom has under this kind of stress.  We all understand that Dad is incapable of understanding what has taken place.  We are sympathetic but his paranoia and hostility make it so hard to keep trying to love him through this.  Don’t panic.  We do love him and always will but dang this is hard.  I think when we were planning this move, we allowed ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of hope and it is a far cry from the reality.  This just stinks!

A Day In The Life With Alzheimer’s Disease

If there is someone in your family who has Alzheimer’s disease, then you will understand when I say no two days are ever the same.  Yesterday, I lost my Dad in Walgreen’s.  One minute he was there and the next, he wasn’t.  I found him wandering around in the parking lot, safe, but a bit rattled.  He couldn’t remember what car he came in so he didn’t know what to look for.  All is well that ends well though, right?

Alzheimer’s is a beast.  Driving home, I found myself thinking about the time we lost my brother at a local lake.  He was about 6 years old and I can still remember the sheer panic in my mother’s eyes as we searched frantically for my brother.  We found him safe too, wandering around in the parking lot oblivious to the frantic search that was taking place all around him. In those first few moments when my Dad disappeared, I think I understood my mother’s fear 45 years ago when my brother was lost.  It was a real awakening.

One in seven people over the age of 65 will get Alzheimer’s disease.  Can we even imagine the impact this disease will have on our generation of baby boomers?  We are the pioneers of learning to care for our parents who have this disease.  We have to help each other by sharing the stories and the lessons we learn along the way.  We need to learn from each other how to keep our loved ones safe and still take care of ourselves too.  This will not be an easy journey but it is important that we help our loved one maintain as much dignity as possible. Alzheimer’s may steal their memory and their ability to speak, eat, and even their mobility but it does not have to steal their dignity.

So, tomorrow is a new day.  I don’t know what it will bring but if my Dad is happy and knows my name, I will be grateful.  Sometimes it’s just that simple.