Sunday, March 25, 2012

Alzheimer's Disease - It Sucks In More Ways Than One!

I Look Back And Wonder. . .Did I Really Have My Head Buried So Deep???

Of Course Not!
As Long As Mother Was Alive She Covered For Dad.
It Wasn't A Conspiratory Sort of Thing, But Instead A Loving Protective Way Of Minimizing A Humiliating Series Of Events,
Perhaps Sprinkled With The Tiniest Bit Of Denial.

Cut To January 1, 2001 ~ Almost 15 Months Ago...
Mother Was Called To Her Heavenly Home.
If That Is When The Dam Started Leaking . . . 
Then We Are Now In The Midst Of A Full On, Out of Control Over-Spill!

Mom and Dad Were Precious ~ Just Like Peanut Butter & Jelly!
Married 62 Years 3 Months and 28 Days
This Is The Christmas They Got Engaged - 1947

When Mother Passed, Dad Was Devastated.
My Heart Was (And Is) Broken.
For The First Few Months I Worried We Would Lose Him Too.
I Also Worried About The Strange Things He Was Doing (Or Not Doing)
At The Time I Thought They Were Actions Driven By Grief.
I Assumed Responsibility For The House. . .
Bills, Laundry, Grocery Shopping, Meal Supervison, You Name It...
He Lost Weight, Lost Interest, And Cried ALOT!
It Was Heart Wrenching To Watch.
I Was Doing My Best To Deal With My Own Grief,
All The While Trying To Maintain Some Semblance of Normalcy
In My Ongoing Role As Wife & Mother.

The Weather Began To Improve - Dad Could Putter In The Yard
Things Seemed To Be Getting Better!
In April, Dad Discovered A Local Meat & Three, Just 6 Miles From Home
4 Nights A Week They Have Live Music & Dancing
No Alcohol And A Crowd Where Age 65, Puts You Among The Young 'uns.
We Were Thrilled!
He Was Making Friends, Enjoying Himself & Getting Some Great Exercise!
Only Problem Was . . .
The Strange Behavior Wasn't Improving -
Some Seemed To Be Worsening

Next Came The Two Things I Wasn't Prepared To Deal With . . .
1.) The Behavior Wasn't Grief It Was Early Alzheimer's Disease
2.) The Sudden and Almost Constant Presence Of A Strange (Unknown) Woman

Okay, Alzheimer's Disease. . . 
That Is A Strong Diagnosis But We Will Learn As We Go
Dad's Health and Happiness Are Paramount
The Woman. . . Different Story For Me & My Household
But, We Gave It The Best Southern Hospitality Effort We Could

Dad Talks About Her Constantly...
She's Nice - She's Well Liked - She's Fun To Spend Time With
"She's Not Really A Looker - But She Sure Is Nice"

I Try To Tell Myself That A 72-Year-Old Divorcee Can't Cause To Much Trouble, Right?

Since April, I Have Experienced A Major Heart Attack Followed By Stent Placement, Been Forced To Close Two Businesses, as well as, Give Up Multiple Personal Interest & Activities.
All So I Am Available The 15-25 Hours A Week Needed To
Attend Dad's Doctor Appointments,
Address Personal "Emergencies"
(ie: "I Can't Find My Brown Shoes & I Don't Want To Wear The Black Ones), 
And Make Daily Life Responsibilities As Transparent As Possible, For Him.

I Won't Lie - It Is Exhausting - Mentally & Physically.
However, It Is My Responsibility, One I Happy Accept .
I Am Grateful That I Am Here & Can Do These Things For Him.

I Listen To Him Fuss Over The Cost Of Doctor Visits & Prescriptions, Cable Service & Phone Bills
All The While, He Is Planning Grand Adventures To Hawaii & Alaska With His New "Friend".
Now, Before You Starting Writing Me Off To Sour Grapes....Let Me Finish...
Dad Is Paying For These Jaunts (hers & his), He Is Paying For The 1-2 Restaurant Meals They Eat A Day, He Is Paying For The Gas They Consume While She Drives Them, In His Car, All Over Town,
He Pays For Her Souvenirs & Extra Activities On The Trips, He Pays For Everything!
While She Continually Tells Him What A Difficult Financial Situation She Is In
(she receives two retirements & social security, seems pretty good to me).

When We Attempt To Discuss Moderation With Him It Is Met With The Typical Alzheimer's Behavior...
Anger, Frustration & Child-Like Pouting
Try To Have A Reasonable Adult Conversation With Her, You Say?
Been There - Done That - She Cried...Her Feelings Were Hurt
Really????? How Many Tears Do You Think I Have Cried While My Father, The Man I Have Loved & Admired All My Life, Runs All Over Town Acting Like An Adolescent Chasing His First Crush?

I Know You Are Asking How Can He Do These Things If He Has Alzheimer's?
Why Isn't He Living With You? With Constant Supervision?
Why Does He Have Access To Money?

The Answers Aren't As Simple As They Seem. . . 
The Doctor's Give The Diagnosis, They Explain The Progression And Phases,
They Prepare You For The Likely Changes In Your Loved One
When The Rubber Hits The Road & You Need Help, Guidance Or Advice For Dealing With A Real Life Issue or Situation They Say...
Well, It Will Work Itself Out.
Try Not To Upset Him Any More Than Absolutely Necessary.
It Will Probably Blow Over, He Will Loose Interest Soon Enough.
I Really Can't Help You Make Those Sort Of Timeline Decisions, Every Family Is Different

So Back To The Top Of The Circle....
Doctor Appointments
Medical Tests
Personal "Crisis" & Needs
Meddlesome (potentially unscrupulous) "Friend"
Conflict Over Irresponsible Spending & Behavior
Few Days Of Cohesive Behavior
Breathe Sigh of Relief

So You See Alzheimer's Disease Really Does Suck
It's Not At All Easy!

If You Are Struggling With A Parent That Needs Extra Care & Attention
Please Know ~ You Are Not Alone!
Every Time I Pray, I Ask God To Show Me & The Millions Of Other Family Caregivers The Path He Wants Us To Take And The Words To Use. Trusting He Will Show Us The Way To Make This Journey In His Likeness, As Much As Possible.

God Bless & Remember - Keep Bouncing Those Blessings
Someone Needs Them!

BTW:  Prince Charming Is Taking Me Away For A Day or Two
I Will Be Back Mid-Week & I Promise A Lighter Entry, Then!

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