Alzheimer’s wages a war against the cognitive and physical abilities of a loved one, of my own father. It is a fierce enemy as it continues its destruction and devastating march, laying waste to everything in its path. And we are not large enough in number, strong enough in body, or brave enough in heart, to hold the line.
For more than three years now we’ve, and primarily my mother has, waged this battle, each stage eroding her personal strength, resources, and basic endurance until decisions have to be made and changes undertaken in Dad’s care. When it became too hard for him to drive, Mom drove him. When it became too hard for him to get dressed, Mom dressed him. When it became too hard for him walk, Mom pushed his wheelchair. When it became too hard for him to get up out of the the bed, Mom helped pull him up. When he could no longer feed himself, she fed him. Every step of the way she, we’ve, pushed the boundaries. Maybe he can get up today, one more time.
It is a horrendous thing.
We are on a journey. And when the uphill battle becomes too steep, we have to find a better way, an easier way, a bearable way. Then for a while things become a little easier, the road levels off for a bit. It is something of a resting place for a while, to catch our breath. We never can stop moving forward, but only hope for a lesser hill that will have to suffice as a place of rest when we need so much more.
It has become increasingly difficult for Dad to stand on his legs for any length of time. And equally as difficult for others to transfer him to and from his wheelchair. This is most evident in his toileting needs. Nothing anyone really wants to read about or talk about, but one of the largest, if not the largest challenge facing caregivers. Dad’s days of going into the bathroom are over. His personal care will have to be attended to in his hospital bed.
This presents new challenges and problems for my mom and his caregivers—the largest one being simply dressing him. He is a heavy man and offers little to no assistance in moving his body and legs. We need to find and acquire clothing that will be easier to dress him in. We need training on caring for him in the bed. We need to find alternate methods of transferring him from the bed to his wheelchair. Mom and Dad have a Hoyer lift that they purchased about 25 years ago, following an emergency surgery that Mom had, so that as she was recuperating she could lift Annie from her bed. The lift hasn’t been used in many years, so we need to have it checked out and serviced.
All these new plans, procedures, requirements, and training, are overwhelming to someone like my mom who is struggling to make it from one minute to the next. But I believe that if we can make a transition to more bed-care and less transferring of Dad, in the long run it will be easier.
I am looking for a place of rest.
I hope we get there.