Tag: Dementia

I Saw an Old Man Walking

I Saw an Old Man Walking

I saw an old man walking today, poking along the roadside, meandering along his path with the appearance of looking for lost items, perhaps bottles and the such. He was dressed for the excursion with sturdy boots, a small pack, and the ever trusting walking stick. He reminded me of Larry.

Larry, my step-father, passed away a year ago March. I think of him often.

Larry would also often be seen strolling slowly down the streets near our home, his home too as he lived with us. He would stop frequently to chat with neighbors, children, or whoever had the time or inclination to visit with him. He was that kind of guy. he loved all, and was loved by all.

I think about him during times when I meet my Dad. They are/were about the same age and they had the distinct luxury of being married to my Mom. That is about where the similarity ends.

20120726-004343.jpgLarry was full of life, even if he had to search it out from the depths of his being. Toward the end it was a struggle for him, he was forgetful and struggled for words. Continuity of thought often eluded him, and he was terrified he was losing his mind, so worried he would get Alzheimer’s the way his first wife did.

He lived with her disease and raised their children while their mother declined. Finally she became too much of a danger to her family, and herself, and had to be hospitalized.

Despite that past, or perhaps because of it, he wanted to live and experience life. Especially he wanted to experience family. There was nothing more gratifying for him than to have all his children come together, nothing that meant more.

My Dad however sees no challenge in life. He is satisfied to sit, nap, watch tv, and take the occasional lunch break with me. He has no desire to build connections with his family or form attachments with his fellow residents of the “Village”. He has little knowledge of current affairs nor an interest in discussing them. Granted he is suffering early symptoms of dementia and has experienced a number of small strokes but these personality traits are not new. More exaggerated now perhaps but not new. Sometimes I’m so afraid because I’m more like him than Larry.

It would stand to reason of course, I am his blood, Larry was “only” my step father. I am sometimes saddened to say I felt more kinship to Larry as a father figure than my biological Dad. I feel somehow bad saying that. That too saddens me.

20120726-004106.jpgI went in to have lunch with Dad today. During our stroll from the car to the restaurant he said,

“You know who I saw in the mall the other day?”.

I answered,

“Who, Desmond?”,

Des was a co-worker of my Dads.

“No”

he said,

“I saw Larry and Ida”

I was dumbstruck……..Larry was my step father, now deceased, Ida was his first wife who died of Alzheimer’s about 25 years ago. Where on earth was Dad getting this? I didn’t really know what to say so we had some brief discussion about it and moved on. It troubled me.

So I saw an old man walking today. I miss Larry.

Whiz, Bang, There he goes

Whiz, Bang, There he goes

So we visited Dad the other day, the first time my wife has seen him since he took his last fall.  I hadn’t recorded that here but it happened last Tuesday morning about 4am.  As he tells the story he woke up and was hot and sweating, blaming the electric blanket that he complained to me moments prior wasn’t keeping him warm.  Go figure.  So he’s all sticky now and thinks, hmm, maybe I should shower to clean up a bit before the care workers come to give him breakfast.

Now this is at 4 in the morning remember, not a time when lots of us take showers.  Sense my frustration? So anyway he manages the shower ok but when he step out of the shower onto the floor he puts his foot into a wet area that had collected because the shower curtain wasn’t positioned properly and spray had puddled on the floor.  Whiz, bang, there he goes, down on his left side, bruising his arm and shoulder and putting a gash in his head.  Luckily after further examination by a doctor they found nothing more serious but you can imagine the potential.

He’s feeling much better now, being about a week after the fact.  As long as he keeps getting some pain killers he is able to manage alright.  After the fall I was able to get him some additional T3’s prescribed by his doctor, without a visit mind you, and that was another story in itself.  What a harangue that would be.

I feel like I could get onto a roll here, preaching about the incompetence of so many but that is not productive and only adds to my frustration.  Never mind I feel like an idiot when I do it, I mean who do I think I am anyway??  It’s just that I feel that things could be soooo much better if people gave half a hoot about what happened in their circle of influence.  Maybe they do care but are just unable to accomplish what they want due to other circumstances.  That’s what I’ll choose to believe.

So long story short Dad is doing better physically, although I am becoming increasingly more conscious of his failing mental condition.  He certainly remembers his family and those around him but rapidly forgets more sporadic events and infrequent interactions.  As an example he went to the bank the other day to get out some money.  The teller wouldn’t give him any unless he produced his bank card.  Well, he told her he doesn’t have a bank card, he just wanted money out of his account.  Sorry sir, no card no money, or words to that effect.  Well, “doesn’t she know me” he asks.  “Why do they keep changing girls in there?”

Unfortunately he does have a bank card, he has used it a number of times, but he forgot it was in his wallet.  Once I explained all this to him again, and the fact he’ll likely have to use his PIN  to access his money, he wanted to write the PIN on the card so he’d remember it.  Calgon, take me away!

I know this is early onset Dementia, or so his earlier doctor said.  There is also likely some impact from the one or more small strokes he’s had.  Whatever the cause of the confusion it all adds up to an increased vigilance on my part and a higher level of attendance to his care.  All in all I’m grateful I can have this time with him, too soon he will be gone and I’ll be lamenting his departure.  Any reminder you can give toward that would be appreciated, I’m beginning to think it’s me that needs the help.

Dad's condition stable

Dad's condition stable

I called Dad this morning and his slurring seemed more pronounced.  I wonder if it is a result of having additional strokes, or just the dementia taking it’s toll.

We have an appointment with a doctor this afternoon and I’d like to find some way to talk to her privately before or after our joint visit.  It sounds like they have still not gotten his records from the doctor in Langley, or if they have the admin assistant was not aware of it.  The new doctor needs to be aware of the various tests that were done and the results of each if she is to provide good care.  I did make my concerns known when I phoned in and I’m hoping that information has found its way into his file.

The whole circumstance of Dad and his condition is very trying on me, I just want to hide and avoid it all.  Sad think is it will get worse not better, until he finally passes.  He is getting more and more forgettful now, he didn’t remember he had a bank account in Trail and he thought we took his scooter home when it is still there.  It makes me wonder if he should even be going out, if he gets lost he may be a danger to himself or others.  He could end up being one of those people who just walks away never to be found.  Unlikely but these are some of my fears.

More news about Dad – Hypersad

More news about Dad – Hypersad

Brenda just emailed me with an update about Dad, the ct scan they did shows he’s likely had a few strokes and he’s showing early signs of dementia.  He’s still in the hosp and the Dr will keep him until Monday.

I’m trying to decide how I feel, partly numb like I often feel, somewhat aloof and uncaring, and then a wave will overtake me and I’ll feel hypersad.  How’s that for a word?  I often felt like that after Shawn died, not the uncaring part but somewhat disconnected from emotion.  Then something would set me off and I’d get hyperemotional, going from a state where I felt ok and controlled to a place where my emotions spilled out and I became almost unconsolable with grief.

When I look back I feel a bit embarrassed actually, but I know better, I can rationalize it and know there’s nothing I should be in any way embarrassed or ashamed about.  What does concern me is how I often feel, where it’s almost like I have no feelings about something that’s happened, at least for the first while.  I feel kind of like a cold hearted son-of-a-bitch.  Is that my upbringing?  Dare I blame it on my parents?