I’ve never written a blog post about this before. To be honest my family have always been the don’t share type. We aren’t great at expressing our emotions or talking about deep things. This way of living which has become so engrained is a problem for me now but is the norm. Certainly my mum’s Irish Catholic proud, don’t want any sympathy or help attitude is something I unwillingly share.
So I’m apprehensive about this blog more than any other. This isn’t really my story to tell. This isn’t something my mum would approve of. This isn’t something my mum would want anyone to know. So I do ask for those of you who know me personally or more importantly know my mum please don’t share that I have written this with her. She is broken enough as it is, she doesn’t need anymore.
But as normal with most of my blogs I really feel the need to pour out my emotions tonight. I’m already crying writing this and it’s tough! My dad is 75 and he has Alzheimer’s and it is breaking me right now.
Alzheimer’s is cruel. Sometimes I wonder is it worse than death? Slowly your loved one is taken away from you. They seem to disappear before your eyes. At times the change is small and unnoticeable for a while and other times it’s catastrophic.
My mum believes my dad has had Alzheimer’s for a long time, over 10 years, although he has only had an official diagnosis for 2 1/2 years ; the proud thing got in the way there.
Why am I writing this now? Because recently I’m finding it harder to cope. There are two things I’m struggling with:
a) being my mum’s rock. She doesn’t talk to anyone else about how she is feeling. I am her only outlet. The tears are becoming more frequent and the desperation more obvious.
b) before I knew my dad was changing but I was holding onto glimmers-this I’m finding harder to do.
What ultimately makes me cry? What is the hardest thing to bare? I think it’s watching this capable, loving, caring, respected, well liked, man, who used to be a bank manager slowly fade. Seeing him not be able to do the most basic of things.
- He can’t tell the time on any form of clock.
- He doesn’t know where things are in the house when he has lived there for 30 years.
- He can’t work anything like the tv, kettle, or lawnmower. Or do jobs he has always done like go up in the loft.
- He can’t make even a sandwich.
- He doesn’t remember what he has done 5 mins ago or what he will be doing in half hour even if he is told over and over.
- He cries regularly about not being able to do things or mucking things up.
- He repeats himself often.
- He isn’t allowed/can’t drive.
This is list is endless.
But what upsets me most and I suppose is more a recent thing is how he is with my children. My dad has always been the best with kids. Endless patience. Playing on the carpet for hours. Great fun to be with.
Now even with his Alzheimer’s he has still shown this. My eldest son who is 5 is besotted by grandad. He is his best mate. But recently I have begun to see my dad even struggle with this. He seems to lack the patience, he struggles when my two boys both want to play with him. He is either overly negative with them or the opposite extreme he is like another excitable child. For the first time I am starting to see him struggle with the thing that makes him my dad the most for me. The other day my youngest who is obsessed with puzzles was desperate for grandad to help him, but got quickly frustrated when grandad couldn’t even help him with his simple child’s puzzle.
I am scared of the changes. I’m clinging the times where the dad I know shines through. I worry that I won’t remember him as he was before. I really don’t want my boys to lose their love of grandad because it would break me and him.
Alzheimer’s has no cure. But it also has no common path. No one knows what is next or how long it will be. It’s cruel because physically my dad is so fit and well but it is like he is being eaten from the inside out.
I hope your loved ones never have to suffer. I hope I can be strong enough to support my mum. I hope my dad is proud of his daughter. I love you dad and always will.