Sixty-three Years Is a Lifetime


SCAN0014Today, my parents celebrate their 63rd Anniversary, if you can call it celebrating.  My father, who turned 90 in June, is well into Stage 6 of Alzheimer’s Disease.  We are more fortune that many families who are dealing with the disease. My father is more like someone who is dotty. If you did not know he had AD, you would think he was 90 and just a little senile.  He is spoiled, but gentle.  He still has a wonderful sense of humor.  They say, as a person ages, who they really are, starts to appear.  Well, my father is always heading to church.  He’s always meeting with people from church.  He’s always preparing to go to some church meeting.  Along with it, he’s always frustrated that we aren’t properly preparing for family and guests to come by, after church or a prayer meeting.  When he is naughty, and it is ‘naughty’ like a small child, and my mother chastises him, we find him on the porch, kneeling beside one of the chairs, praying.  There are times when you want to run, screaming, but all in all, we are very fortunate.

I feel so sorry for my mother. The reality of AD has finally set in, and she’s begun to mourn. On Monday she just cried, knowing nothing would ever be the same. I suspect we are in for a difficult time, tomorrow. She’s in a tremendous amount of pain with the nerve in her back. Now, she’s quite down, depressed. The back is bothering her so much, she’s almost beyond coping. She on the phone now, in tears, she’s in such pain. I’m going down and do dinner tomorrow. Don’t know much more I can do.

This morning, he didn’t know her, thought she was the cleaning woman, then he was okay. It bothered her, tremendously. I don’t know if I should have people down tomorrow night, or not. I don’t think she wants it. The pain and the stress are truly getting to her. We have an appointment with a pain specialist on the 9th. No way I could get down there today.
Everyone is a wreck. I feel sorry for Cathy. No way she can get away right now. We’re all exhausted, physically and emotionally. That is the beauty of the disease. You feel like you are in a hole, with the world wanting to avoid you – just because you’re like Typhoid Mary or something. You try to be upbeat but it’s getting more and more difficult.

My mother is too proud to reach out for help, or even ask people to come down for a visit. She won’t do that. She feels if she has nothing to offer, nothing baked, nothing to serve, that people will be disappointed. She thinks that they live so far in the country that no one wants to go down for a visit, so she won’t ask.

And so – she faces her 63rd anniversary, and he has no idea what’s going on. Last night, he was ticked because the relatives were going to church and not stopping by the house until after. He wanted to go with them, but was there waiting. There was nothing for them to eat. Of course not. He’s been through 7 (count ’em) S-E-V-E-N packs of Fig Newtons since July 1! (And the last 3 have been double packs).

I’d take him a watermelon, but he needs seedless, and they’re just too heavy for me to carry. Vicki sent 3 fresh cucumbers down yesterday. I’m waiting for ours to finally grow. Did a marinade. My mother has been picking in them all day.
She’s exhausted, dealing with APR all day. The pain makes it worse. With luck, she can get some kind of relief next week.

This is what life with AD is like for families.  It is debilitating, financially.  There was a recent article about the burden of caring for the elderly falling on daughters.  When it happens, you give up your life.  I understand, now why women don’t have a chance to advance in the world, financially, politically, or via business.  First, you cut back on your life to have and raise children.  Just when you are hitting your stride, when men start becoming their most powerful, it’s time to give up everything to care for the parents.

If you aren’t independently wealthy, you become almost destitute, like I have. Then, your most productive years are gone.  You’ve been left in the dirt, exhausted, destroyed, ruined, and no good to anyone, ready to lay down and die.  This is what Alzheimer’s Disease does to care givers.  If you can’t work, you can’t accumulate a nest egg.  When it’s your time to rely on family, well, the care giver is the one who is going to end up in the gutter.

It is slowly killing my mother, with no end in sight.  She’s looking back on her life, and mourning what is lost.  What is left is the shell of a person who once was.    And so, she is in mourning.   We’re not bitter, just tired, and heart-broken.  The whole family is whipped.

We’re keeping my father at home.  One of the things that bothers me the most is the way the Reagan family has almost ruined it for everyone.  They made such fools of themselves over a cure, when the answer is right there – in front of us all.  It’s in the nutrition, sweets, caffeine, B-12, and diet.