Life with Alzheimer’s –A Family's Devotion
My dad lived with the effects of Alzheimer’s for over 12 years in our home. We cared for my father without any outside help and for most of that time, it was ok but the last seven years of his life it was the hardest thing we as a family have ever had to face. As my dad’s memory faded he lost the ability to dress/bathe/feed himself or even watch TV & would get lost in our house, which was very tiny. He couldn’t be left alone for any length of time so my mother, and I stayed home with him because it wasn’t possible to take him places any longer he would get agitated. He would get agitated if we left him with anyone as my mother, and I were his constant champions.
The Man, The Myth the Legend. My Dad
The one thing we did as a family that I think might help other families is we purchased a duplex so my brother, and his family could live next door and help my mother and me. My mother had become increasingly frail and had her own health issues, plus I use a wheelchair due to a lifelong disability, and even though I’m completely independent, I couldn’t dress my dad or help with bathing. I cooked and cleaned, did laundry and was his constant link to reality along with my mom and brother which had been slowly fading away each day. My sister in law became “The Woman Next Door” which is sad as she loved him very much.
Grand Baby Alexis
We can’t be sure he knew he had a grand baby even though she was toddling around while he could still walk. He would pat her on the head as she toddled by. My brother and his wife tried to have a baby as soon as we heard the diagnoses, so we could make sure that he knew he was a grandfather but alas that didn’t happen. Even sadder my niece has little to no memory of my dad or my mother for that matter.
Alzheimer's Care Givers
My dad fell in the driveway, and we called the paramedics. The doctor had told my mom early on that she would have to put him in a nursing home at some point, but we couldn't; we promised him that as long as he knew who we were we'd do everything in our power to keep him home, and that’s exactly what we did until the day he fell.
Our family doctor refused to send him home, and he was placed in a nursing home which was the hardest thing we have ever had to do. He still knew us, for the most part, and he cried and begged to come home. My mom’s health had been getting worse, and she was diagnosed with Lung Cancer, shortly after placing my dad and after her surgery, she was cancer free, but they found she had 3 aneurysms, two brain and one aortic.
The Brain Aneurysms were huge, and they tried to fix them without the usual brain surgery because she was frail from her lung cancer surgery, but she had a stroke on the table, thankfully she pulled through, but she never seemed the same after that.
While my dad was in the nursing home, he fell again but this time he had a brain bleed, which they told us they would not do surgery due to his age and his diagnoses. My dad passed away March 1, 2009; my mother passed away on July 11, 2009.
I feel that the stress while caring for my dad all those years were very difficult for my mom, which is why she just couldn’t recover from her surgery and the stroke and then finally the Aneurysms which never burst but were pressing on her brain.
We did everything we could for our parents and in the end, I think it would have been helpful to have had assistance such as a “buddy” or “nurse” that would come and give the caregiver a break. It isn't realistic to send our family to adult day care because they have behavior issues that go along with the disease that “daycare” isn’t equipped to handle. It wasn’t easy to find a nursing home, and it was a nightmare preparing for the event; we HAD to place my dad in a nursing home.
Still with all the stress and 24/7 care we would do it again to make sure my dad had been properly taken care of.
Mom & Dad
You once were the strongest man I ever knew..
You took care of us no matter what you had to do..
3 jobs.. Working at night …
Whatever it took to make sure we were alright..
Now your memories are slipping away..
I still can't believe this is happening to you...
Faded memories of me and u...
Sometimes for a second I see a moment of recognition...
I love you Dad I hope you knew ...
I would have done anything for you..
Lived in Fear of a day that you would no longer remember me
Hovered over me like a nightmare. I could hardly bare it...
The sadness surrounded my days and crept into my dreams...
Everyday you faded away right before my eyes...
You left before I could even say goodbye...
I will remember all the things you taught me...
I'll Share everything I know...
All the while keeping your memory alive and well..
Copyright Tara Richardson 2011