’twas the month before Christmas…

…and things were not going to be easy.

We had one of those difficult talks yesterday here at Chez Zaz. I checked in with Dad before going to the pharmacy and post office to see if he needed anything from the store. He was in a panic that he needed to go to the store, they had called him and told him he left his wallet there. Now, I know he hasn’t been to the store and I reminded him that his car isn’t working – the battery has been dead since mid-summer. He hasn’t been out of the house, even with me, since maybe June. I’m so looking forward to getting him to his doctor’s appointment in a couple weeks as well.

So, I pulled in behind his car while he was wandering around, his front door still open and I don’t think he had his keys. I’m not sure he knows where his keys are. I looked around and found his wallet in the pants that have been draped over the back of one of the dining room chairs for the past week. So this was the first time he’d noticed in a week that he didn’t have his wallet. And of course, he hadn’t been to the store. And the store hadn’t called him.

He was really flustered and confused. His typical response is to focus on how “stupid” he feels. He can’t help this memory stuff – his brain fills in stories for things that he can’t remember. It is getting, however, to where he isn’t aware that he can’t remember things. He still wanted to go to the store to get his wallet although he had it in his hand and was repeatedly checking it to see if his cash had been stolen. I had to get to the pharmacy before it closed and he couldn’t – wouldn’t – get up and go with me. He was feeling overwhelmed.

We talked before I left and we talked more when I got home. He can’t remember so we went over where his wallet was over and over and eventually, he said he was going to have to go to the nursing home soon. Instead of reassuring him as I usually do, I said yes, that was probably going to have to happen. I’m still not sure he needs it but yes, it’s getting to be a safety issue. He’s not always eating; I find his lunch sitting untouched on the table some evenings when I bring him groceries. If he eats it after it’s sat there all afternoon – that’s a risk. He’s not heating up the frozen dinners very often right now but he will eat pie or sandwiches or cookies, so he’s not losing a lot of weight. And so long as he’s eating something, I’m not complaining.

Anyway, we talked about some of the reasons that I’m concerned. The eating, his hygiene – which is deplorable – and his memory is not just bad, it’s dangerous. He is sure that he drives on a regular basis and is perfectly capable – I say he is not and I’m glad that the car doesn’t work because he is no longer safe to drive. Well, he disagrees. And he says he will fight going to the nursing home. I know that. But it’s going to happen.

The good news, as far as he’s concerned, is he has no memory of this whole thing today.

Today wasn’t great either, however. The nursing home called about Mom this afternoon and the new director of nursing didn’t understand not to call the house line. They have my cell on file to call me instead. Dad just gets confused and upset when they call. Hospice has re-evaluated Mom and thinks that she qualifies for their services again. Mom, realistically is dying. She is in end stage Alzheimer’s. But she really hasn’t changed in the past six months. She has lost a couple pounds in the past couple months and they are having a little more trouble feeding her again. She is not actively dying at this time but she may be declining again. I will be there tomorrow to talk more about how she’s doing and what our options are. It upsets him. He gets stuck on how much he wishes we could bring her home.

I got him a small aluminum tree – nostalgic for the aluminum tree he insisted on putting up throughout my childhood. We had two trees. A realistic plastic tree and the shiny aluminum one. He wouldn’t help put the ornaments on it and it may have been a mistake. He doesn’t know what day or month or year it is and now I’ve got a visible reminder of Christmas sitting in front of him so we had the “what am I going to get Mom for Christmas” conversation a dozen times over half an hour. My shopping is done, including his shopping. We went through this last year when he was still capable of driving himself to the local store and wouldn’t do any shopping for himself. Hell, I will take him shopping if he wants – I offer to do that all the time but he won’t go with me. I’m being stupid, he says, he will drive himself…. back to your car isn’t working and you cannot drive.

My goal for Christmas is to get through it with as little stress as possible. It’ll be worse as we get close but for now, I need to take a deep breath and try to let the stress out. And probably occasionally vent.

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11 thoughts on “’twas the month before Christmas…”

  1. That sounds so incredibly stressful. I can relate to the health issues and the fear of what is down the road. My own parents are 80 and 84, so this is coming for me too.

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    1. I hope that your parents don’t have the severe dementia or Alzheimer’s thing. Declining health is bad enough. I wish you and them a gentle aging.

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  2. In the interest of documentation, I didn’t write that he wouldn’t go with me to family night for Thanksgiving and has totally forgotten Mom’s birthday this year (also on Thanksgiving this year). It isn’t something I push and it’s honestly easier for me that he forgets, but it makes me sad. I plan to skip my birthday again this year, too. It’s just easier.

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  3. I’m sorry to read about all of this. Yet, I suppose, it is to be expected under the circumstances.

    Both of my parents are long gone, but I remember lots of what you talk about here. The mental confusion is what upset me the most. Once the minds went, I became the parent & it was freaky, scary weird.

    I’m sure that you realize this, but it bears repeating, take none of this personally. And keep on keeping on. I think you’re doing a great job in a difficult situation.

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    1. You’re right, it’s hard not to take things personally. I don’t like being the parent and sometimes, I still expect one of them to be able to be themselves. I’m tired of the fighting and being scared constantly.

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  4. On the plus side – I visited with the Director of Nursing yesterday and she and the doctor both agree that Mom is not ready for hospice, although we all admit she could die tomorrow she is not actively dying. Also, it turns out that since it’s in his will, I can take power of attorney, medical at least, for Dad by getting a doctor’s statement of incompetence. That should be a lot easier.

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