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Thread: Struggling with my dad, who has Alzheimer's

  1. #1
    Junior Member simplelife2's Avatar
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    Struggling with my dad, who has Alzheimer's

    His Alzheimer's has gotten so much worse this past year. Some days, he just makes some sounds. I know he thinks he's talking but it's gibberish. He's had some small strokes, which doesn't help since the one side of his face is pretty droopy. I go over to his house several times a week to talk, do some physical therapy and bring him treats. He's been really out of it lately, so many times I leave practically in tears. He's just this bent over shriveled up old man that bears no resemblance to my dad -- or at least the one I remember.

    Anyway, I was really encouraged today when I arrived because there was this look in his eyes. The vacant stare was gone. He was there. He was connecting. We did his exercises and then I got him some chocolate. He's still not using the arm on the side where he broke his shoulder in the fall. I'm trying to get him to use that hand by using it to eat candy. I call it is chocolate therapy and tell him I'm jealous.

    We were having a nice visit and then he says, "I don't think I'm going to be here for much longer." I knew exactly what he meant, but I acted as if I didn't. "Here in your house? This chair?" "No. Alive," he tells me. It's not the first time we've had this discussion, but we haven't had it in awhile. It was as if today he woke up and suddenly realized what his life has become, trapped in his house, in his chair, in his body.

    "Just hang on," I tell him. "It will get better. Brandon's going to be graduating soon. Don't you want to see him graduate from college." He's not convinced. "I think 87 years is enough. I'm done." By then, I'm pleading with him. "The snow will melt soon. We can start going out for walks and see all of the flowering trees. You'll like that. We can sit outside and listen to the birds sing and feel the sun on our faces." He relents. "Okay. I'll try."

    A victory. But I am not comforted. In my heart, I know he's right. I'm just not ready to let go.

  2. #2
    Low Tech grunt iris lily's Avatar
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    my honest reaction is that I'm sorry you can't connect with your father at the level he needs you to connect. you want to pretend, he is done with that.

    I know, we aren't perfect! but the jollying of the old folks is something I would deeply resent if I were one of them.

    edited to add: sorry, my first answer was harsh but has a lot of truth in it. As does your own sorrow that he isn't the dad that you knew AND he is ready to leave this life. It's sad all around. Be kind to yourself and also try to meet your father where he is, when it's one of those days that is a gift of lucidity. I think you will look back and feel better about yourself if you connect with him on an honest plane, as difficult as that is and it IS DIFFICULT, h*ll ya.
    Last edited by iris lily; 1-12-11 at 8:18pm.

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    (((simplelife2))) It's a terrible thing to deal with. I'm glad your dad had a good day, when he could share his feelings with you, and give you the gift of knowing that he's at peace with being at the end of his days here on earth. I'm sorry for your pain and wish I had words to make it easier.

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    Oh my dear... what a difficult time. Are you getting any support from others who have a dementia parent they are caring for?

    Blessings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Iris lily View Post
    my honest reaction is that I'm sorry you can't connect with your father at the level he needs you to connect. you want to pretend, he is done with that.

    I know, we aren't perfect! but the jollying of the old folks is something I would deeply resent if I were one of them.
    Iris, I think that, rather than "jollying of the old folks", simplelife is just expressing grief and anticipatory loss. A little kindness would go a long way here.

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    Senior Member freein05's Avatar
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    I agree with early mornings comment. I also feel your father has fond peace and is ready to die. I visited my dad the day before he died in the nursing home. He had had a stroke. He had been very independent person all of his life he was 84 years old. Here he was in a wheel chair being pushed around. I could see in his eyes that he was willing himself to die and he did the next day.

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    Junior Member simplelife2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iris lily View Post
    I know, we aren't perfect! but the jollying of the old folks is something I would deeply resent if I were one of them.
    Good thing you're not my dad then. He enjoys and looks forward to my company.

    Fact is, neither one of us is in control of when he dies. What I say or don't say is not going to change that. Would it be better if I told him that nothing would get better and that there was nothing to look forward to? That he might as well just die? If he died tonight, I would want him to be thinking of those sunny days walking together, for that to be what he holds in his mind, not how alone and scared he might be.

    If you read between the lines, we are saying goodbye, slowly. Neither one of us has any illusions. And I will find comfort in knowing that he is ready.

  8. #8
    Low Tech grunt iris lily's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplelife2 View Post
    Good thing you're not my dad then. He enjoys and looks forward to my company.

    Fact is, neither one of us is in control of when he dies. What I say or don't say is not going to change that. Would it be better if I told him that nothing would get better and that there was nothing to look forward to? That he might as well just die? If he died tonight, I would want him to be thinking of those sunny days walking together, for that to be what he holds in his mind, not how alone and scared he might be.

    If you read between the lines, we are saying goodbye, slowly. Neither one of us has any illusions. And I will find comfort in knowing that he is ready.
    I'm sorry, spoke out of turn.

    Telling him "that he might as well just die" is not exactly how I'd put it, but validating his feelings and his view of what's happening to him--in other words, recognizing his reality--might be comforting to him in the end. That's what I meant.

    But you know him better than I do, that's for sure.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Gina's Avatar
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    The death of a parent is never easy. When my mom died suddenly at 77, I co-incidentally had just visited her the previous day. I was always glad we had had that last good visit when she was cheerful.

    Your father may have made peace with dying which is probably good for both his peace of mind and yours, but that does not mean he will die soon. No way to really know.

    Comfort to you, your family, and your father in this difficult time.

    Iris, I think that, rather than "jollying of the old folks", simplelife is just expressing grief and anticipatory loss. A little kindness would go a long way here.
    redfox, thanks for writing a more tactful response than I would have.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Simplemind's Avatar
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    I'm sorry. My mother is also slipping away with Alzheimers. It is so hard to lose each connection piece by piece. Poor health is a challenge on its own and the Alzheimers adds a whole other layer. I so understand the tears as you drive away. You are giving him the greatest gift. Cherish those moments of connection and make the most of them in the way that is meaningful between the two of you. God Bless........

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