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Friday, September 14, 2012


I thought I knew what dementia meant.  I thought it was about forgetting things.  I thought if someone had it REAL bad they tended to wander away or forget who you were and that was Alzheimer's. 

Well I was wrong.  I didn't realize the degree of unreasonable self-orientation involved in dementia! 

I've gotten used to Dad breaking in with a trivial question involving past or future events while I am trying to get dinner on the table.  I am used to him bugging me about having lunch ready promptly at noon and dinner at 6 pm.  He was ALWAYS fussy about schedules.

I am used to him complaining unsensibly.  If the TV shows a poor news video, he complains that my (Big Screen HD Plasma 1080) TV is poor quality.  If there isn't anything he wants to watch, he complains I have a poor cable system (1,000 and "57 channels and nothings on"...).  The sink water doesn't get hot immediately. 

My favorite last week was that he needed a calendar because he couldn't tell what day it was.  He couldn't figure out why looking at a calendar wouldn't tell him what day it was.

But today was a new low.  I don't mean that he said he had another family for a decade or that I wasn't his son.  Not THAT level.

But...  I have people here putting new siding on the house.  Its noisy work, and they have a job to do.  Dad is normally happy watching Fox News and listening to the talking heads.  I've been mostly staying outside watching them work (its fascinating), and I make sure to ask Dad how things are going every hour or so. 

Well, apparently Fox News was replaying a speech by Paul Ryan and all the hammering annoyed him.  When I came in, Dad was ANGRY.  "They should have stopped all the hammering during his speaking (sic), out of respect"!

Me:  "What?!?

Dad:  "They should have stopped when someone important was speaking"!

Me:  "Dad, they have a job to do.  They have a schedule".

Dad:  "It was disrespectful"!

Me:  "Dad, you're being unreasonable.  They didn't know someone was speaking and they wouldn't stop working if they did.  I don't care if a politician is speaking.  Most of the world wouldn't care.  People have to keep doing their jobs.


US:  (Some repetitive back-and-forth angry/calming words)

Me:  "Dad, please sit down, watch your political TV.  I'm busy!"  (leaves house)

I was completely surprised by the whole event.  I accept the daily forgetfulness, I accept his confusion about bills, etc (and I can deal with that); but I hadn't seen the irrationality involving a real-time event on such a personal level before.  And it wasn't at sundown...

Mom became physically unable while still mentally competent.  Dad is losing his mind first (though physical incompetence is catching up rapidly).  

More about all that next time.  


Mariodacatsmom said...

It's sad to see isn't it, and probably upsetting also. They can also have a violent side, so just be aware and ready.

Thumper said...

Sounds like my dad not too long after he started slipping away. Brace yourself; it can get really personal at some point. My sister still hasn't gotten over being told that she should have been traded in for a dog, and that was 3 years ago.

Granted, I think he was justifiably ticked off, but that was so unlike him. Filters were just gone...impulse starts to take over and some hurtful things can spill out.

Katnip Lounge said...

My MIL gets like this too, for quite a while we'd get angry phone calls at all hours, they were RANTS, truly. I agree with Thumper, it's the impulse control mechanism eroding away. It's hard to tell sometimes if the person you knew is still in there, frightened by what is happening to them. I hope it's not so.

Ramblingon said...

It has to be so unsettling and sad. I can't imagine what that has to be like but I am getting a lesson each time you blog.

This isn't the same but my Dad whom I treasured had a stroke a long time ago and became child-like and also had no filters to govern his behavior. He lived alone and no one knew he was in bed for three days with the aftermath of that stroke so he had no help in the crucial early hours.

That man was no longer anything like Dad although he looked like him. Occasionally there was a reconnection and a flash of "him" but they were few and came to be none. The second stroke killed him. So I know what it's like when they are not themselves. Alzheimers must be even sadder and more debilitating on the caregiver as well as the relative.

Shaggy and Scout said...

I was wondering how he was doing with the workers & the noise.
My heart goes out to you Mark.

Andrea and the Celestial Kitties said...

It does become all about what they want/feel/think because that's all there is for them. And the ability to understand that other people might want/feel/think another way is not a concept easily grasped.
It's that going back to childhood thing, a child only knows and cares about what it knows and what relates to it, eventually, we all head back to that self interest.
It's not easy to be the caretaker, and I commend you for doing it. As hard as it is, you will not regret this later. *hugs*