Alzheimer’s and after the loss

I’m sitting here in my study this morning and life resembles what used to be normal, causing my mind to drift. I check the clock on the wall and wonder if it is too early to call Mom. And then I remember.

The phone rings and I remember exactly how my mother sounded on the other end when she’d call.

Small things.

Deeply ingrained things.

I turn my thoughts to my dad, alone in his room at the nursing home. Our home health aide Larry will be there in about an hour. So far we’ve kept a daily home health aide with Dad for three hours over lunchtime. Initially we did it as a transition and because we were so occupied with caring for Mom that we weren’t able to be with Dad as much as we would have liked.

I have a lot more time now, but much less direction.

We don’t know how much Dad understands about what has transpired over the last seven weeks or so. When we moved Dad from the hospital to the nursing home I told him he was going there for a while. I called it re-hab. And he did receive some speech therapy for a while. I told him Mom was moving there too, in a different room, but in the same building.

I showed him the hallway to get to Mom’s room before she moved in.

I brought Mom to see him after she was living there. She stood up on her own, kissed him and said, “I’m living here now. I’ll be able to see you more often.”

We brought Dad to Hospice for a visit while Mom was there. My sister and I helped her stand up and lean over to kiss him. I have no idea what he thought.

We brought Dad to Mom’s apartment twice after she returned from Hospice. The first time she was conscious, but too weak to stand up and kiss him even with my sister’s and my help. The second time she was not conscious. Both times Dad seemed uncomfortable and would not look at her.

The day Mom died, we all walked over to tell Dad. He cried hard when I told him she was gone and that she was with Annie now. I believe he understood. I don’t know if he remembers.

We took him to the funeral and he sat with dignity beside her coffin.

I would like to be able to give him comfort, but the advice we’ve received is to not bring it up. It could be like learning it anew every time we mention it.

So we put pictures in his room. And I hung a windsock beside his window. And we go on together.

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12 thoughts on “Alzheimer’s and after the loss”

  1. Hi Christine … the less fuss, but more presence … and just being with him I’m sure will bring comfort … I struggled to sit still with my mother – I was always up and about doing this or that – I eventually realised that less is more …. and it was for both of us …

    I too send you solace, peace and big hugs … Hilary

  2. Mother was fine and next day advanced stage 4 cancer throughout abdomen. After colostomy she lasted 5 weeks and passed Sept 17. I was her home hospice nurse for that time. I am glad it was discovered at the end of life stage so it did not go on for years as it has for you. I remain astonished at the surreal of her having one foot in death and one in life as she seemed to travel back and forth. Half hour after she died a tear formed and fell from her left eye. That will forever mystify me.

  3. I give you credit for telling your Dad that Mom died, but I would agree to not bring it up again. My great-aunt lived with my grandparents for years and after my grandfather died, it was just the two of them together. My great-aunt died first and Grandma was unfortunately still with it enough to keep asking for her sister. Each time we’d explain that her sister had died, Grandma would wail and cry, and by the next day she’d forgotten again and we started all over again. It as really hard and it would have been easier for all of us, especially Grandma, if she’d not grieved over and over for her sister. Grandma didn’t have Alzheimer’s, but the effect of the strokes went much the same way as your Dad.

    Nancy

  4. So hard do lose those we love. Your writing here is so poignant and does really tell so much about how much you care. Mother died now five years ago and dad will be 90yrs old this year. I feel the ticking of the clock louder each day and always say to myself, ‘give me one more visit’. As for your dad understanding, when you told him about your mom…I will always believe they understand far more than we will ever know. I send Angels to you and your family and I know amongst them, will be your mom and your sister. Take care.

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