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Tuesday, September 18, 2012



I mentioned last time that "Dad is losing his mind first (though physical incompetence is catching up rapidly)."  Dad thinks his biggest problems are that he can't get his feet to move easily, that he forgets individual words, and that he doesn't get much sleep. 

If only he knew...  He can't move his feet because his weight is planted firmly on both of them.  He can't do the "shift weight to one foot, fall forward slightly, and swing the unweighted foot forward" that is walking.  When I suggest a cane, he refuses saying it wouldn't help.  When I suggest he just try a simple piece of closet pole (no cost involved) as a quick test, he refuses.  He has two walkers; one a 4 wheel type that can be a simple pushable wheelchair, the other a dedicated walker with 2 wheels in front for pushing.  He looks at thos every couple dsys, but will not try them out.

I understand why.  In the immediate sense, using them is the final surrender to old age.  In an indirect sense, Mom used a walker, then went to assisted living, then died.  Using a walker would be an acceptance of the sequence.

It sure makes life awkward though.  He is SO slow moving through the house without support!  Fortunately, the living area of the house has a circular design, so I can always go around him by walking through the other rooms.  Its usually much faster.

I don't want these posts about Dad's problems to seem like criticism or humor.  Yes, I sometimes fail to understand how he can think or do something so obviously non-sensical, and yes, I often make light of some really difficult conversations or actions.  Frustration slips in between the lines sometimes.  I'm doing this partly as a record of events, and partly so that others may see these things developing with their own elderly parents and understand its not unique.  There are patterns...

The latest...

1.  Dad has been either putting used food dishes in the sink or washing them and puting them in the dishwasher for months.  Today, he suddenly asked where to put ihis used coffee cup because the dishwasher was running.  I said "in the sink".  In the sink was a small tupperware container with a few small cat food bowls soaking in soapy water.  He said the sink was "full".  When I said there was plenty of room in the sink, he tried to push the coffee cup into the full tupperware container.  Seeing his confusion, I said to just put the coffee cup next the the container and I would take care of it.

2.  Sometimes before Noon, Dad will ask if I plan to make lunch that day.  Not that I've ever not made him lunch.  But lately, the conversation goes either of two directions. 

A.  Version one, when I present him with his sandwich and pickle/chips/carrotsticks/etc, he asks if I have made one for myself too.  Its an odd question because I make one large sandwich (my bread loaves are large) and cut it in half for each of us.  If there is one half a sandwich, there must be a 2nd half. 

B.  Version two, when he sees me making our lunch sandwich, he asks "are you making one for me too"?  Again, 4 months, and I have never failed to make his sandwich.  Now, that could be an attempt at humor.  But humor has certain inflections and facial expressions designed to clue us in on a joke.  He looks slightly woried, so its not that.  He's actually worried I won't feed him. 

3.  The yellow box on the toolshed...  Dad is constantly asking me weird questions about things he thinks he sees outside.  Today, he asked what "that yellow box on the side of the toolshed was".  He described where it was by referencing parts of the shed and giving directions from those.  I can usually figure out what he is looking at.  Never mind that IF there was a yellow box attached to the toolshed (150' away) , I would surely know about it...  If a sparrow fell on the roof, I would notice.  I can see when there is a hummingbird at the feeder on the toolshed.  There was no yellow box on the toolshed.  None.  At all.

4.  Dishwasher...  If you or I were visiting a friend and added dinner plates to the dishwasher helping to clean up, we would notice the the host placed plates in one area, bowls in another, glasses in another, etc.  Dad can't see patterns anymore.  He puts stuff in the dishwasher anywhere (when he tries) randomly.  I don't mind that much, but when he catches me rearranging things, he acts disrespected.  He nests spoons together, too (dangerous).  My point is that he can't detect patterns or organizations, and he was an engineer.  Among the many abilities he has lost, his sense of logical organization may be the saddest.

 5.  Did you notice details in the picture of Dad outside at the top?  He complains about being cold in the house, wearing shorts and a thin golf shirt.  I keep the house at 74F (too warm for me too cold to him).  But I have learned to wear shorts and light shirts to adjust as best I can (my perfect temperature is 70).  Notice that ir was 82F outside.  Dad put on a sweater to go outside in warmer temperature!  When he came back inside, he took the sweater OFF and complained about being cold again.

You know, he used to live in NH.  He knows how to dress for the cold.  He just WON'T anymore.  I bought 3 nice light long sleeved shirts today.  Technically, they are for me.  But maybe I can get Dad to try wearing them.

I can't believe its only been 4 months, it seems like Dad has been here a year...


Katie Isabella said...

I know I have never taken this blog as anything other than a journey with your dad. There are no complaints, no humor just facts as they occurr and surely it must be good to tell someone, us. We care.

I will say that him asking if you made lunch or any meal for ourself is just being polite. One doesn't always want to think they they are being worked for if you will, and he is or may be attempting to be polite making sure that he aren't being treated in a special way ( even if in reality he is.)

Alasandra, The Cats and A Dog said...

I am beginning to wonder if my Mother is suffering from dementia. She repeats the same story over and over, talking on the phone with her is very tedious as she will tell you something and then 5 minutes later she tells you the same thing and gets annoyed if you mention she has already told you. On the other hand she keeps up with both her and Dad's doctors appointments which are numerous. The mind works in mysterious ways. Glad we can be a sounding board for you. As Katie Isabella said we care and understand you need someone to talk to.