RSS Feed Print
Long distant caregiver(1)
Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2019 2:52 PM
Joined: 8/24/2019
Posts: 5

I'm going to start from the very beginning... will try to summarize best I can.

I was born and raised on the east coast, Long Island, NY. At age 19 I dabbled with Marijuana, as time progressed so did my drug use which ultimately spiraled out of control and in the summer of 2016 lead me to the other side of the country, in a Rehab in Southern California. This plays an important part in my story because just as I was dealing with my addiction we all began to notice changes in my father. The job he had for many years eventually quit, he was having difficulty remembering things. And when he would speak I could pick up on his struggling to find the right words to express his thoughts, and found myself helping him finishing sentences. a year and a half or more later, i get the phone call from my mother informing me that he has in fact been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I sensed something was up with him but wasn't sure what, up until that point. I mourned for the loss of that man's memory and wept because I knew he wasn't going to be the same. I am 34 now and have moved north to Oregon at the end of July 2019, Miles away from my family on the other side of the country I am left to manage life with the reality of this. I regularly exchange phone calls and texts with my mother and brother, who are the sole caregivers at the moment. 

Years ago there was a HBO documentary out that I had watched, documenting various loved ones suffering first hand from the illness or footage of caregivers. That was pretty much all I knew about the disease. and it was frightening. To think that one day my father would befall a similar fate, leaves me in tears. 

It was suggested by a loved one that I reach out to a community or support group of some kind in order to help me deal with what's to come. I even applied for a position at a local nursing home as a means to cope. My father says he wants to move to Florida to be closer to his brother but not sure that is feasible since we have to consider finances. I can't be close to them and help them hands on, but I can offer support and I do. I sent my mother to this site. My mother is in some denial about the situation that is unfolding before her and because she is such a private person most of our family doesn't know about it. i have encouraged her to reach out to someone, or find a support group. I don't know if she will take my suggestions, you can lead a horse to water but can't make them drink.

I am sad that my father never got to see me be a functioning adult, but I know he can hear it over the phone when I talk to him. one thing i learned in sobriety, how to love unconditionally and expect nothing in return. And I think that's what I to do now for my father. 

I hope to be able to visit my family over the winter/during the holidays, and so I feel I must prepare myself mentally and educate myself for what is about to come. 

I would be most grateful for any support or advice anyone can offer. 

Greg G
Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2019 7:33 PM
Joined: 2/8/2017
Posts: 986

Hey Thephotogrrrl,

Welcome to the club no one wants to be in.  We are glad that you came a calling.

Yes it is very hard to watch this all unwind from across the country.  Your experience will be very different than your mother's because of the difference in the relationships you each had with dad.  You are losing a father, she is losing a partner/best friend.

It is great that you told her about us.  We are here to help.

For you with no experience with dementia (of which Alzheimers is but one kind), you are just like almost all of us when we first got here.  So you are correct that you should learn about the disease.  There are plenty of books available, videos on techniques and ideas and as you mentioned, support groups (both live & in person and online).  I would suggest "The 36 Hour Day" as an excellent place to start.  You can probably find it at your local library but it is a reference type book that you can refer back to as dad progresses on this journey.  Look for a used copy if possible.  

Be an ear/shoulder for mom and brother to talk to and cry with.  If at all possible, fly home for a long weekend or so so you can get an idea where exactly dad is.  This way you will have a better understanding what is happening there and also so that mom can get a break for an hour or two while you spend some time with dad.

Keep coming back with your questions and concerns.

Good luck and best wishes, Greg

Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2019 7:57 PM
Joined: 10/24/2018
Posts: 1183

Photogrrrl, firstly-- congratulations on your years of sobriety. You know you are made of strong stuff. 

It must be so very hard with the whole country separating you.  I don't really have anything bright to add to what Greg said  

Keep your own life on an even keel so that you're there for your family. Your part may not be up close and personal, but it is a large part, and you are a very loving daughter. I'll bet your dad does love you even though he's no longer capable of showing it. 

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2019 4:41 PM
Joined: 8/24/2019
Posts: 5

I don't know what to say but, thank you. Thank you for responding and connecting with me. I will look into your suggestions. And yes I do plan to fly home at some point. 

Right now, my mother is trying to figure out an affordable place to put my father. He is currently enrolled in adult day care which my mother has said is a weight lifted from her.