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john_n
Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2019 5:29 PM
Joined: 8/13/2019
Posts: 7


… just reaching out for some connection here. I just created this account here and I hope that's okay. My mother, after some time of increasing memory and other cognitive problems, has just recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Currently I live in Austin, TX. (Just moved here from California last year.) My parents live south of Kansas City, KS on a small retirement farm, and my brother lives nearby with his girlfriend and her two daughters. I was just home to visit them for a few days last week; I'd planned the trip before her official diagnosis, and I was distressed to see how her condition and the state of the household has changed even since my last visit (Thanksgiving last year).
I don't think you could have chosen a worse situation to put my father in if you tried. He is short-tempered, he lacks patience, he is not very empathetic with his words, he has trouble accepting if he is wrong or if someone says something he thinks is wrong (factually or morally).  This is not playing out well. When Mom is confused, Dad tries to control her rather than guide her; when she misremembers or makes a mistake he scolds and corrects her rather than help her. He let the tone of his voice rise, his body language is poor, and when he gets frustrated he throws up his hands and turns away. He spends a lot of time absorbed in watching TV or puttering on his computer.
I can see Mom picking up on this. Her mood and attitude drifts over time, but there are times she says she wants to run away from him, or she wants him to leave, or she wants to kill herself. I can see this becoming a serious problem later if things don't change, if this image of my dad becomes fixed in her mind as her mental state progresses even further.
My situation is that I'm the son that's always been closest to my mother; our personalities line up and I'm the one that understands her. This has been amplified now; during my visit she spent most of her time with me, telling me she loves me 'like my child' and trusts me. I have no training but I tried to do what I'd read in a few articles online: keep her calm, speak clearly and soothingly to her, when she's upset or agitated agree with her and then gently distract her to another line of thought until she calms down. I felt like by the end of the visit she'd calmed down quite a bit; I tried to impart what knowledge I could on Dad before I left, but I don't know how well things have been going the past few days.
My apologies for this running so long; I guess I need to get this out there. My boyfriend here at home has been nothing but supportive, but this is still a difficult adjustment for me: Mom has always been my last line of defense to call for advice or support, and after this last trip home I can see that she doesn't really exist in that capacity anymore; just fragments of her that will dissipate over time, until eventually she's gone.

I'm going to plan to get home at least every month or two for a few days from now on, to check in on her and see as much of her as I can for now. I'm going to have a lot of work trying to get Dad on track: He's vaguely mentioned the idea of selling the farm and moving into an assisted living community, but I don't know that he'll be acting on that quickly enough (and there will be complications convincing Mom to give up the animals and, very potentially, her German Shepherd). I also need to make sure he finds a primary doctor specializing in geriatrics for her (right now I believe her primary doctor is a neurologist), and I'm going to try to get him involved in some Kansas City area support groups if I can. He's just never been the type that deals with that very well.

To anyone who's read all the way through this, thank you so much for taking the time. I don't really have any specific questions out of this, but I appreciate the support and I'm sure I'll have plenty of questions to bring here over the next few months. Thank you all.

-john


lizziepooh
Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2019 7:58 PM
Joined: 5/2/2019
Posts: 141


Hi John,

 

Welcome. I am sorry you have to be here but I think you will find it a helpful place.

 

Unfortunately, it does not sound like your dad is going to change and give your mother what she needs from him and since he is her caregiver there is not much you can do to change it since you have no control.

You may want to visit for longer and maybe send your dad away during that time to just make it easier for you and your mom during the visit. Or maybe with experience from watching how you handle your mom, your dad may learn a thing or two.

 

Since your dad likes to be on the computer, you may ask him to visit this site and just from reading the threads, he will learn that arguing or demanding or pushing is counter productive when dealing with someone with dementia.

I am sorry you have to go through this and I am sorry that you have lost or will soon lose that very close son/mother relationship. This disease is relentless and it takes no prisoners. At least you had a special relationship with your mom, so many others did not even have that.

Hang in there and good luck. I wish you all the best.

 

 


Army_Vet60
Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2019 8:29 PM
Joined: 6/21/2019
Posts: 461


It sounds like you're doing everything right with your mom.

The three words that really sum up people with dementia is "Make them comfortable."

Your dad is going to be an issue as her condition worsens if he can't embrace those three words.

Good luck.


SelEtPoivre
Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2019 9:00 PM
Joined: 3/8/2018
Posts: 797


Hello John, and welcome

A recent diagnosis can throw everyone into a maelstrom of worry, sadness, denial, anger and frustration. Your mom, you, brothers and your dad have a lot to process, and that will take time.

I recommend reading The 36 Hour Day, its incredibly helpful for guidance. Pick up a copy for your dad, too...leave it by his computer for him to discover on his own schedule

This site is a wonderful resource of how-to, how-not-to, and general support


ruthmendez
Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2019 9:01 PM
Joined: 9/8/2017
Posts: 2152


Hi John. I take care of my father with some help. I’m middle aged and this is very hard. I suggest support your father as well. I think he’s in the right track to go into an assisted living, or better yet, memory care.  I think it would be best to also support your dad with him wanting to sell his home and get help in a facility. Taking care of someone with dementia and as it progresses is so difficult for everyone involved, especially your dad. He’s thinking about doing the best he can, and what he can do with his personality. He knows he’ll need help.  This will get worse and moving your parents into a home where they can be cared for is better for the whole family, if possible. Help him look for places and be supportive even if he’s difficult. He has a hard and possibly a long road ahead.
Abuela
Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2019 9:20 PM
Joined: 6/24/2012
Posts: 405


Hi John and welcome.  This is a great place to be when you are facing this disease.  None of this will be easy.  All of it will be stuff you never imagined having to do.  It's important to remember that.  And all of it is doable.  All of us have been through it and are somehow still holding it together... some days by a thread.  We were not raised with models of how to manage this.  And there is no RIGHT way to do any of it.  The right way is the way that works for you and for your family.  So hang in there and God bless.  Keep looking for help... it's out there... As Mr. Rogers said... when things are really bad... look for the helpers.
DIL to MIL
Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2019 9:17 AM
Joined: 8/7/2019
Posts: 7


Welcome, John. I'm new as well. This is a difficult journey, so it's good to have support. Take care.
MinutebyMinute
Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2019 9:23 AM
Joined: 6/11/2019
Posts: 292


Hi John. So sorry you have to be here but glad you found the site. I'm relatively new myself and this site is a godsend. Especially on those days/nights where I don't think I can make it to the next minute!

Lots of kind, empathetic and wise people on this site. All very good to have -- especially with this d*mned disease and its many horrors -- when you need them.

Good luck.


 
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