Thursday, August 29, 2013

Table for Six

At Least Sadie Is Happy - March 2013
We made an interesting discovery today.  The parents have been married 64 years today!  I can't imagine putting up with anyone that long, trust me.  Cathy and Juan are here.  We went to the Great Wall for dinner, with Nana entertaining the parents.  Our mother had been having a rough day.  I called Nana, who is such a wonderful friends.  She was there, the whole time.  Ryan made one of my mother's favorite dishes.  Glenn stopped by to visit.  They just made a rough day so much better. 

Milestones like this getting rough, bittersweet.  We know that next year, APR is not going to be all that much with us, mentally.  It is like now, we know that every holiday will either be the last, physically or mentally.  It's rough, but we're also fortunate in that we know the score, to enjoy and treasure every single minute.

APR has always sat at the head of the table.  So, that's where we put him tonight.  He couldn't cope, was out of it.  So, now we put him in the middle of things.  He does better.  We do, though need to keep an eye on our glasses, because he has a tendency to drink out of anything near, and we keep an eye on the chips and salsa. He's double dipping now, then denying it, knowing exactly what he's doing!

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lost in Space

It Is Shocking How Quickly He Has Changed
My mother called this evening.  APR managed to get lost in the house.  And, their house is so darn small.  I just realized the problems my mother would be having if they were still living in South Carolina.  It would be a nightmare.  If they had a larger house, it would be a nightmare, just trying to keep up with him.  Then he couldn't find the bathroom, was lost looking for it.

She was so sad.  I don't blame her.  The other day I realized that those of us dealing with Alzheimer's in the family handle things so much differently than people dealing with things like cancer.  We're completely fatalistic, knowing there is no hope, so why bother with false hope?  You do what you can do, and deal with it.  I'm noticing that people I know who have elderly parents with cancer seem to hold on to so many things - just hoping against hope.  It is starting to dawn on me that while it is long, drawn out, and heart-breaking, Alzheimer's in a way, is a kinder disease - to the family.

Once we realize what we are dealing with, and face it, oh, it's painful. It is miserable and tragic, but we know what the score is.  There's no 10% or 20% or 50-50%.  It is all slap in the face, deal with it.  Sure, you watch the person you love becoming a shell of what they once were, but, in our case, my father is not in pain.  He's really not suffering.  He's like an annoying four year old.  You see his mind going a little more, every day, but we know it is going to happen.  There's no let's try this and let's try that.  It's just, that's life with Alzheimer's.  I think I prefer it to false hope.

And - so you find reasons to seek the humor of the situation.  We are trying to find my father's 'stash'.  It is a common problem, especially with men who have the disease.  It is reaching the point where friends are now getting into the spirit of what is truly a scavenger hunt.  "Have you looked under the sofa where he sits and reads?" This sort of thing.

The shampoo still has not been found.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Tear Jerker

Grandy, My Mother, Charlie, and APR  

I don't think I've ever linked to a blog post, until now.  Mike Clelland wrote a piece about his mother, who recently lost her battle with Alzheimer's.  It was quite a beautiful and moving story, very unexpected.  He detailed something we are dealing with now, with APR.  His tale is about how his mother handled the loss of his father. 
"...My father, Alexander Clelland, died of a stroke just a little over a year ago, and my mother still thought he was alive. She did beautifully at his funeral, and in that moment she seemed to understand that he was gone. But after that it just felt cruel to ever bring it up. When she would ask, Where’s your father? We would just calmly tell her that he was out getting his hair cut. ..."
I know all about this, unfortunately.  APR is well into Stage 4, probably the late stages.  We're fortunate in that he's still doing quite well, physically.  To date, there is not as much of the problem with bathroom issues - yet.  His problems are more mental than physical.  He's with it maybe 40% of the time.  That is a huge drop since early in the summer.  I think things are harder on my mother, dealing the unending questions.  I realized that I don't have the patience I should have.  I never wanted children because I just don't like dealing with little kids. This is where we are now.  The questions are like a 4 or 5 year old, constant, repeated, incessant.  

APR spends a lot of time in Minnesota.  He's fighting World War II (in the Army for some strange reason).  He talks to his father, frequently.  And then there are times where it just don't make sense.  My mother has had to cut back on what he watches on television. No news, violence, or weather.  He thinks the weather reports are local. 

The worst part - for my mother - is dealing with the incessant demands to know why his parents aren't having dinner with us.  Where are they?  Have we talked to Ma today?  Will his father be spending the night.  Have we checked on my grandparents?  Where is my sister?  

And so forth and so on. 

After one time telling him that his brother was dead, and the pain I saw in his eyes, I just lie to him.  It's easier - on him.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead