I never gave much thought to dementia in the past, but now it seems like every ageing person seems to have it in different degrees!
The view from the top of ‘Mount Teide’ was SPECTACULAR!
It was on this fun autumn holiday to Tenerife that I first noticed my father starting to repeat himself; he was then 85 years old!
Not a bad age…
At first I thought he’d experienced a mild stroke, but no, much worse was to follow, he had the beginnings of SENILE DEMENTIA.
He had been a great father to me as well as being a kind and generous man all of his life.
…but no one ever claimed that life would be fair.
The overture to this horrible and progressive disease began quit suddenly by him repeatedly asking the same question or telling me the same thing over and over again.
His memory was declining rapidly.
Although sad, at first it was also quite amusing as if dementia wasn’t enough misfortune for one person to handle, he also became profoundly deaf and at the same time, in a very short period.
At first I teased him and we laughed together not quite sure what the future would hold.
I just wish I had written down some of his HILLARIOUS hard of hearing answers he replied with with because at this point I would have a best seller.
Dad had been living with us for ten years and until this time he was still driving his own little car, quite well I thought.
The decay of his memory was painful to watch and I had mentioned it to his doctor who immediately sent the area memory nurse to test him.
He has VASCULAR DEMENTIA she told us…
Privately she told me that there is no cure and it will get MUCH WORSE!
The biggest worry to my father was that I would put him in a care home which was something he really didn’t want!
I’d rather kill myself he would complain.
“No need to that dad, we’ll look after you!”
After all he had put up with me for 55 years and I had never been an easy person.
Dementia and driving are not a good mix…
A couple of weeks later the DOT (department of transport) sent him a blunt letter DEMANDING the immediate surrender his driving licence.
He was so disappointed…
This for my father was the beginning of the end as living on the beach and in the countryside with limited public transport meant he lost his independence almost completely.
Of course my wife and I were happy to drive him around, but that’s not really the same.
That was nearly five years ago…
His decline was gradual but consistent until about two years ago when he stopped being the father I knew and grow into something a little darker.
- He began to get vicious and nasty which is indicative of the disease.
- Someone now had to be with him ALL of the time for his own safety.
- He was now totally incontinent and had to be showered twice a day.
- His mobility had declined to the point where he has to use a walking frame and still he has had a couple of really bad falls.
- He couldn’t do much at all for himself and was now totally reliant upon us.
The reality of advanced dementia is QUITE HORRIBLE…
As I write this short post my 90 year old father is shouting and swearing and rattling the door to get out of the house.
In his mind he thinks that he’s fine to go out alone, and he believes himself to be independent. He sees us (his family) merely as an obstruction to his liberty.
Most of the time he has absolutely NO IDEA who I am, and he is very free with his punches and kicks as we try to care for him.
His comments can be even more painful…
“I hope you die you rotten bastard for treating me like this, he tells me most days!” …or something similar.
Now you may find this next comment strange.
Every cloud has a silver lining…
- It has been learn experience and opportunity to grow for every member of the family.
- Personally I have become so much more appreciative of life in general due to this experience.
- I appreciate every moment I’m here so much more than ever before.
- Although difficult and disruptive to the family it has been an honour and privilege to look after my dad through this difficult time.
- My levels of patience and tolerance have risen dramatically although they are nowhere near the level of my wife.
- I have become so much more understanding of other people and their problems.
- Most of all I appreciate just how lucky my life has been and how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful and talented family.
As I shower my dad he is grumpy and constantly complains at me and I realize what wonderful man he has been.
You can’t take the many years of EXCELLENT PARENTING he provided me with away from him.
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