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Alzheimers and reaction to grief
Mobile AL
Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 12:02 AM
Joined: 7/21/2018
Posts: 44

In December of last year my brother died unexpectedly of a massive stroke. Ten months later my sister died from a rare cancer. Two months later my mother passed, that was last month. 

Now there is only my father and me. I was caregiver for my sister with her cancer and my mother with her cancer and my father, who has Alzheimer's. 

While going through the process with my brother and sister, I could tell it was a great shock to my parents but they had each other to lean on. And daddy's Alzheimer's was much more noticeable and sometimes difficult to control.  But we got through it. May never get over it but got through it.

Then, my mother died. She would have been 90 next month and in January she and daddy would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

I noticed after mama died that daddy showed fewer signs of his Alzheimer's. He seemed more alert, wanted to go for rides in the car, could follow conversations. Not completely cognizant of things, but when discussed he understands and contributes but may not remember the conversation at all the next day. It's been about a month now and he's going back to how he was before mama died. 

I just find that to be odd. He's aware that she died, even refers to it sometimes. He hasn't mentioned my brother since my brother died and he hasn't mentioned my sister since she died. Everyone handles death in their own way and in their own time. It's just an observation and a curiosity. Has anyone else had a similar experience with their loved one?

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 3:52 AM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 2231


I am sorry for the losses you and your family have endured. 

I do not have any experience for the loss of a loved during the progression of the disease, but will say that dad processed his grief differently than I would have expected. He didn't have the empathy for others or exhibit the same depth of despair he would have earlier. Aside from the usual losses a man in his 80s would have, my sister died 25 years before he was diagnosed. She had been his favorite- a mini-me physical and emotional specimen of his tribe. He was iffy around her death, sometimes he knew she'd been sick and assumed she was probably dead by now other times he'd gone back to a time before than. What struck me was how matter-of-fact her was about her death in the times he realized she was gone. When she died, well before his symptoms showed up, it destroyed him. 

The loss of empathy and engagement are not unusual in dementia. I wonder if the uptick in cognition and social participation were a reaction to you being more focused on him as your only caregiving charge- perhaps he was responding to more attention or even putting on a good act ("showtiming" or "host mode") if other family members were visiting.


Mobile AL
Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 11:05 PM
Joined: 7/21/2018
Posts: 44

Harshedbuzz, you make a few good points that I had not considered. Thank you for your input.

I've noticed him becoming more like his Alzheimer's state was before mama's death. Using the stages I've seen on this forum, he would easily be Stage 5, and showing signs of Stage 6.  I'm not sure how to deal with him right now. I'm having problems grieving, especially around Daddy Elf, so I'm holding a lot in. That affects my reactions to his actions. 

He has always been very reserved and would never complain about anything, ever. Even now, with the Alzheimer's, the only way I can tell if he's in pain is by watching his expressions, watching how he walks or bends over, stands from sitting, food intake, trips to bathroom, that sort of thing. I've searched through the forum for more information to give me some idea as to what to expect as the disease progresses.  

I know he'll need at least some home health service soon but I'm not able to determine what costs would be involved if he has to go into a MC facility. I've not called around yet, that was something my mother wanted me to do after my sister died, but then mama's kidneys started shutting down and her death came so quickly that the issue of finding out more details has been put on hold. I've had to take over my sister's bills and now my mother's bills and settle both their estates.

Are there any avenues you can suggest? I don't know where to start or what to look for. I will be taking him to his neurologists soon and I should be able to get directions from him as well but people on the forum who have been down that road would really help with ideas. 

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