March 30, 2009

Dad & Me

I won’t be able to go see dad again until Thursday.  Life is getting in the way and, while it’s stuff I’m enjoying, I can’t help but think about him being alone in the home.  How do people do this kind of thing and not lose their mind?  All I keep hearing is “make sure you take care of yourself, too!” but when your dad is slowly forgetting everything, including you, how do you think about anything but that?

If I was indipendently wealthy I’d buy a house and he’d live with me.  But this is the way things are – no use living in a fantasy world.

I’m reading a book called Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s by Joanne Koenig Coste which I highly recommend.  It talks about creating an environment for people with Alzheimer’s to thrive in.  Instead of correcting them about anything they might get wrong it suggests living in their world with them.  They’re going to get worse no matter what.  Why not let them be happy even if they think it’s 1952?

I’m also in the process of putting together a huge photo album for dad with childhood pictures.  It’s really a fun process because both of my parents were amazing photographers.  The book says any sort of repitition is good for Alzheimer’s patients so, once the book is done, every time my sister or I go there we will start our visit by looking through the book.  I always make sure to put some of his favorite music on, too.  Van Morrison, Willie, The Beatles – all the best for daddio.

But for now it’s back to living my life and doing my best to enjoy it!

Have a great day!!


Make ’em Laugh

March 28, 2009

Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in the sadness of what’s happening.  I think I especially take the burden on when I see my dad cry or have to leave knowing he’ll just sit there staring at the wall.  So today is about humor!  Matt and I are going out to visit him and we think dad’s childhood friend Dennis and his wife Bonnie will be stopping by as well.  We are going to get a book of cheesy knock knock jokes, mabye a few dirty jokes, stuff I know he’ll love.  Let’s get him laughing and maybe that will make the rest of his day great!

If nothing else, I know my dad still gets humor and loves to laugh.  I got  my sense of humor from my dad.  He grew up watching Chaplin and Keaton and would teach me their moves.  Now I can use those moves on him!  It’s very important to keep an Alzheimer’s patient engaged.  Sitting down with them face to face, looking them in the eye and giving them a chance to say what’s swimming around in their head.  But it’s also very important to keep them in high spirits.  My dad is taking anti-depression medication which really kills me since he’s always been a very happy guy.  I know it’s the disease but I want to make sure my dad feels happiness while he still can.

Whenever I arrive at the home I always call my mom and my Aunt Cookie, my dad’s sister he lived with prior to being in the home, to let dad speak with them.  When I called yesterday, Cookie had been napping and sounds pretty sick.  I said, “Hey Chuck!” truly thinking it was my Uncle Chuck, and when I told dad my mistake he laughed harder than I’d seen him laugh since we picked him up.  It was awesome.

I won’t be able to stop the disease but we can make him happy while he’s at his most scared and alone.

And now it’s off to Long Island once again.  This time I’ll have Matt to keep me company.  I don’t know how I’d do all this without him, Kelsey or her fiance Frank.  We’re all in this together!  Support is the key which is another reason why I started this blog.  I’ve already been contacted by a few friends and acquaintances and their support just makes my day that much easier.  If you’re going through something similar or something just as hard but completely different, I urge you to start a dialogue about it with whomever you can.  It really does make a world of difference.

Have a great day!!



March 28, 2009

The name of the game this week has been exhaustion.  Oh you fickle beast!  This is the week we, me and my sister Kelsey along with help from our wonderful friend and RN, Corrine, brought my father from Ohio to NY.  He lived with his sister, Cookie and her husband Chuck in Tobaccoville, NC up until this week.  He now lives in a nursing home in Huntington, NY (Long Island).  It’s near my sister and her fiance, Frank, and close enough for me and my boyfriend Matt to visit often.  It’s also where he was accepted after his PRI (Patient Review Instrument) and what was most affordable for us until Medicaid kicks in.

This blog will be part reference for anyone else dealing with this terrible disease, part therapy for myself and part nostalgia helping me and my family remember what a great man we’re losing.

But for right now I need to rest my body and my mind and get some hugs from Matt.

Good night.