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Hi. I'm trying to think of another description to put here. Any ideas? I'll try again at 420.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

We never could get it through his thick skull that Alzheimer's wasn't just reverting back to childhood.

Yep...I wrote a list of suggestions for my father last night and one of them said, "I’ve heard it said that, ‘Once an adult, twice a child.’ but that is misleading because children can learn. She cannot. She isn’t trying to annoy you, she simply doesn’t know any better."

I think that he is finally getting it after the second disappearance in one day. He didn’t want to explain to the police why he lost the same woman twice in one day but he had to. I think he gets that much, at least.

"...you all might consider getting the door chimes that are enabled simply by opening the door when the charge is disengaged..."

I did. I got something from Radio Shack that will alarm when anyone opens the door or even gets close to it. Then, after I installed it last night, I forgot about it and walked into the kitchen after everyone else had gone to bed. Everyone except Jean came running out. I said, "Just a drill folks...go back to bed." No one appreciated my sense of humor. Oh well.

It's difficult to accept some things in life. The older you get, the harder it is. To admit that a contemporary is so ill, you almost have to admit that you could get that sick as well. It’s not so easy. Facing the mortality of someone that you care about usually makes people think of their own mortality and that’s not easy to do.

Jean doesn’t ever get "hungry". When it’s mealtime and you offer her food, she says that she isn’t hungry so my father just let it go. I told him that he had to see to it that she ate. I’ve had to say this to other patients as well..."It doesn’t matter if you’re hungry, think of it as medicine that you have to take to save your life."

People with Alzheimer’s are a lot like children in that they need structure and they need for someone to take charge and tend to things that need to be done. Although they can’t learn new things, they do feel the need to be secure and they, like children, can sense when they’re being given too much control. And, like children, they know that they can’t possibly handle so much control.

They need to feel as though there is someone who is taking care of business. My father has always had a tough time making Jean agree with him which is why she’s an ex wife now. He has to change their entire relationship from one with two responsible adults who enjoy each other’s company to one where he is in charge and acting responsibly.

He sure the heck could take charge and stay in control when I was little, all he has to do is remember how he did that. He didn’t want to get some of the things that I suggested yesterday because he didn’t think they were as necessary as I did. For example...he didn’t think that she needed pads for her chair or to put under her on the bed. Then, when we got back home, she showed us that she did, indeed, need a pad for the chair. Perhaps if she showers him once really well, he will decide that I might be right. I did get him to agree to a rubber sheet for the bed, but not for him.

We do listen to the same things over and over again, all day long. She keeps asking me when I’m going back to work and how I made the cheese omelet that she eats every morning. She watches Headline News all day. She doesn’t mind the reruns every 30 minutes but everyone else gets a tad annoyed after hearing the baseball scores for the fifth time in a row. So far, he hasn’t decided to take control of the television back from her yet. It isn’t even good for her to sit there watching the same stuff over and over again.

I think that he’s getting the message. He’s getting annoyed less and less and seems to be getting a bit more patient with her. He really did think that she was trying to annoy him with some of her antics. She is an annoying person at her best. But at this point, she isn’t trying to annoy him at all, she’s simply trying to figure out how to get along in a world that she barely recognizes anymore.

Can you imagine? People who look familiar stand right there, but you can’t quite place them. Nothing around you seems to be familiar at all. Every day you get a bit more confused and a little less secure in the world around you. The streets that you see don’t look at all familiar and if someone speaks to you, you aren't quite sure if you should know them or not. You remember enough of yourself to know that something is wrong, but you can’t quite put your finger on the problem. You look at a strange woman and ask, "Who are you?" The answer could be, "I’m your daughter."

You’re taking a walk and all of a sudden, the police are asking you for your phone number and you can’t answer them to save your life. Then, you find out that you never should have taken the walk in the first place. In your mind, you long to go home but when you get there, you don’t recognize it. How can you ever go home if you can’t remember where home is? You long for things that you can’t verbalize and you miss people who you thought were in the next room but in reality, died years ago.

It seems as though you have someplace to go, but you don’t quite know how to get there. If anyone asks you where you want to go, you answer them, but your answer makes no sense. Not to you, not to the person who asked the question, not to anyone. You see your car, but you can’t remember how to open the door. You know that so much of your life is missing, but you don’t know why. And, you have no idea how much longer this feeling will go on.

The truth is that the feeling will go on until your mind is so far gone that these things are no longer bothering you. As cruel as it may be to have your mind totally gone, having some left is even more cruel because you know enough to know that things aren’t right, but you have no clue how to fix them.

Alzheimer’s is a dreadful illness...it steals what makes you YOU. It takes away all of your dignity and leaves you in a shell that will slowly get more and more useless as time goes by.

Jean is a very, very proud person. She is smart, witty and totally self reliant. But the woman in the next room is none of those things. Is she Jean? I don’t know who she is. Jean seems to be gone and she won’t be coming back.



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