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Friday, December 14, 2012

Dad Again

Oops, I mentioned that Dad didn't remember to put butter on his potatoes, and it was rightly pointed out that it was a minor matter.  I didn't explain well.

I had made shrimp and fish sticks for dinner and made cocktail sauce to go with them.  And I provided Dad's daily potato and put out butter.  He always puts butter on his potatoes (a family/cultural thing).

The other day, he couldn't remember what he usually puts on his potato!  And he has been eating a potato with almost every meal for all his life.  He has always put butter on them.  (OK, sometimes there was probably gravy).  But for the first time I know of, he couldn't connect butter with potatoes.  Its just one more thing he is forgetting that I find hard to understand.

I would say that I am learning from Dad's experience what I will be forgetting myself one day, but obviously by that time, I won't be remembering these days myself either.

These posts are only helpful to other elderly caretakers, I suppose...

Dad has worse memory failures than butter on potatoes.  He doesn't recall the daughter who died in 2010, he recall recall the least detail of the house he lived in before he moved in with me (and even that he just sold it 2 weeks ago - he seems to think he sold a rental condo in NH).  He became annoyed at a tax bill from NH because "I never lived there" (he lived there for 25 years).

Sometimes he thinks he has lived with me for "may years" and sometimes he thinks "about a month".  In practical terms, it doesn't really matter where he thinks he has lived before, but it does make it difficult getting him to pay bills and taxes regarding places he doesn't remember.

And something else I really need to explain for those of you who are just beginning to take care of an elder parent(s); they can remember things in detail one day and have no recollection of the same things the day after.  Dad can describe his previous house in FL one day right down to the color of the carpets, and not remember ever living there the next day or week or sometimes in the same day.

Don't let it get you down when that happens.  I am still struggling with that, but I AM learning.

Your elder parent has the memories of the hour or day FOR the hour or the day, and there isn't anything you or they can do to change it. (I keep reminding myself of that, I keep reminding myself of that, I keep reminding myself of that...)  Doesn't help, I keep forgetting and expecting consistent memory or non-memory.

The fluctuations in memory are going to be what drives you the craziest.  You never know what to expect for day, one hour, to another.  It is for me at least.

Dad is also failing physically rather fast.  A few months ago, he could walk in straight lines.  A few weeks ago, he could walk in straight lines with a cane, but had trouble turning in any direction.  Now it can take him 10 minutes to walk from the TV chair to the bathroom.

There are lots of turns involved, and he tends to freeze in place then.  And he tends to freeze in place under doorless doorways.  I don't mean there are doors involved, just that opening between rooms baffle him because there is some choice to be made as to where to go.

Any technology baffles him.  The "elder-friendly" remote control doesn't help much.  There are still too many choices.  I am going to cover most of the buttons with opaque tape and see if that helps.  That's a clue, "simplify everything".  It won't help completely.  Couple weeks ago, Dad was flicking light switches trying to get the drapes to close...

Your elder will eat less as time goes on, but get confused about whether he/she is gaining or losing weight.  Dad equates tight waists on his pants with "eating too much", but he is eating less these days.  And some random days he decides he is not eating enough and so needs ice cream.  Hey, if Dad wants ice cream after dinner, that's fine with me.  I always keep some available.  But the confusion is that it has nothing to do with his weight.

Relations with older relatives will also be confusing.  Dad says he calls one SIL  (LOL!  I had to stop and think of the term for the relation between Dad and one of my aunts) almost every week for the past months.  I know he he hasn't because he can't figure out my phone.  Yet even when I mention that, he remains convinced he calls her every week.  He doesn't, because he CAN'T.  So tomorrow, I will help him call her and HOPE that he makes some sense in the conversation.  I MIGHT listen in with the aunt's permission.

Enough for today...


Katnip Lounge said...

Oh Mark, I feel for you. This has got to be the hardest thing in the world, and I admire you greatly for your tenacity...hang in there.

Mariodacatsmom said...

You are so "right on" with everything. As Katnip Lounge says, you are to be admired for ability to keep going. You are doing one of the most difficult jobs in the world - the caregiver to an elderly person, and one who is losing his mind rapidly! Bless you. Please keep up with the blog. One day it will be helpful to someone else going thru the same situation and reminds the rest of us that one day we could be like that. (shh - don't tell anyone, but some days I am like that already!)

Shaggy and Scout said...

I'm sorry to read that things seem to be progressing rapidly downhill for Dad in terms of memory and strength. Every day is as much a challenge for you as it is for him, just in different ways. (((hugs)))

Fenris and Family said...

I have noticed my Mom's memory is slipping and that she is easily confused. It took an entire hour to find out if she had bought the book my youngest son asked for. She always ask the kids what to get them for their birthday and Christmas.

Turns out that no she didn't get the book on his list she had got a different book that I had mentioned he might like. The books are not remotely related but she kept insisting they were the same book, that the covers looked alike, never mind that the titles are different?