It’s been almost a year and a half since my father was diagnosed/un-diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s. They haven’t actually given an exact diagnosis. The exact words were “Well we don’t *want* to call it Alzheimer’s, but there’s been a significant loss of memory for a man of his age and education.”
Ummm ok. What the hell *should* we call it then?
What do you call it when you’ve known a man to be a certain way all your life and suddenly for no apparent reason, he begins to start acting differently? What do you call it when he suddenly can’t remember his PIN number? How about when he suddenly has to ask his wife if the throat drops she gave him are to be swallowed or chewed?
What *do* you call that?
Maybe. But, it’s definitely hard to pass it off as just old age. There’s just too many little things he’s doing and saying differently.
No matter what you call it, it’s becoming very difficult to deal with. And I am a few steps further back from it than my mother. She actually has to live with the man and sees/hears it 24/7. I see bits and pieces of it all when I visit, but mostly I live it through my mom.
The more difficult part is figuring out a way to help my mother deal with things. Thus far, she’s had nothing but constant frustrations. From being told SHE’S the one that remembers something wrong, to being asked the same things over and over, to just seeing the man she’s known and loved for over 40 years slowly deteriorate…mentally. It’s a little hard to just dismiss it and suddenly have to completely shift your thinking to try to remember that’s it’s not him actually doing all that, not on purpose.
But, I can only do so much. I can’t make her understand. I can’t tell her how to handle the situations because I’m not living them. I can only suggest.
Suggest that she have patience. Suggest that she listen. Suggest that she not take things to heart. And remind her that he’s not doing it on purpose. He’s not out to get her. It’s nothing personal.
We all know that’s much easier said than done.
How do I help her change her ways to make things easier for herself? How do I help him see we’re just trying to help? How do I force myself into a scenario where I’m not being invited, but rather pushed away? And how in God’s name do I carve out even more time to actually make a difference?
It’s hard for me to be there. Truly be there – for her or for him. Time. It only allows for me to be halfway there. Sometimes.
Because it’s not just the kid, the husband, the house, work, and the second job. It’s also spending time with the parents and helping out if I can. It’s all of those and more combined.
It’s the Modern Mami effect I suppose.
P.S. As I finish up this post, the official diagnosis is back. Dementia. “You can basically say it’s early Alzheimer’s.” Officially.