Monday, October 8, 2007

Aug. 9, 2007: I HATE Alzheimer's disease!

August 9, 2007 - Thursday

I HATE Alzheimer’s disease!

My father, my aunt, and I attend a monthly Alzheimer's support group meeting at the Episcopal Church Home in honor of my mother, my father's wife, my aunt's sister. It is a wonderful group of people, we are all dealing with the fact that we are losing our loved one's in the most cruel way possible.

The meeting last night was, I believe, a real eye opener for my father (and me) and here is the reason I believe this...
Dad was telling us, the group, that Mom has entered the stage known as Sundowners Syndrome which is where as the day progresses, she becomes more and more aggitated, more angry. This is common in Alzheimer's patient's. She and Dad get in pretty heated arguments now, anything will set her off and my father is a "natural arguer", if there is such a thing, so he will give it right back to her (which he really shouldn't be doing). The group moderator said something to my dad that was so sad and upsetting. She said, and I'm paraphrasing because I can't really remember word for word... "You are in a lose lose situation with your wife because she can no longer comprehend certain things. Two-way conversations can no longer exist because she cannot remember" or something like that. I was sitting next to my dad. I heard him take a big sigh and his head dropped. When I looked at him I saw tears in the outer corners of his eyes.

You have to understand the relationship between my parents to really understand why this is so incredibly sad. My parents have been married 47 years. I have never known two people whose lives were as intertwined as my parents, so much so that I don't think one can live without the other - really. One thing that my father said was... of all the 30 years that my mom has been so sick "I always thought we would have our memories".

I don't see my mom on a day to day basis; I just can't be over there everyday with two small children. I can still call Mom and ask her for advise on children's issues or how to cook a particular dish because all of this information is part of her long term memory (30-40 years ago) which, so far is still pretty much in tact. To me she seems the same... until she tells me something 4 times in a row and each time is as if she had never said it. I can't let her know that she already told me so I have to pretend that each time is the first time... we all have to pretend.

I think in some ways my dad is still in denile. I cannot convince him to put her name on a waiting list for the Memory Care Wing at the Episcopal Church Home (for Alzheimer's and Dementia patients). He keeps saying "I'm not ready for that". I don't think any of us are but it must be done. How can I convince him?

How will we ever get through this? How do other families do it? Why is this happening to my wonderful, loving parents?

My father is grieving so. He has already lost his wife. All that is left is a shell of her with an occasional peek into how she used to be. That peek gives us all false hope. This is the most cruel, unforgiving disease and it is effecting all of us who love her.



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