My parents moved in with us years ago so I could help out with dad after he had his first stroke. That first stroke took a lot away from him. Prior to the first stroke my father had a genius IQ. He could do complicated math in his head. He spoke two languages. He was a big reader. He invented things. After the stroke he could only read at a fifth grade level. He could only do basic addition. His ability to problem solve was nonexistent. He was physical okay, but the stroke had caused damage in his brain. He could no longer work. But he was happy in his own way. He could garden every day. He helped mom with the dishes and laundry. He could watch TV. He could communicate with us.
That first stroke turned him into a quiet man. Before he had been a man who told a lot of stories. A man who was always laughing. Someone was constantly learning new things. He had been a total optimist and believed anything was possible if you put enough energy and work behind it. He was audacious. He was a force of nature.
A year ago he had another stroke, much worse than the first. This stroke caused severe brain damage and with the damage came dementia. My father is now a man whose life is no longer based in reality.
A few days ago I spent four hours trying to convince him our house does not have a second floor. There is no upstairs.
Two days ago I spent three hours trying to convince him he no longer works and he doesn’t need to call a taxi. There is nowhere else he needs to be.
A day ago was spent trying to convince him that in fact that was his bedroom, not a stranger’s room. And yes, he was standing in his house. There was not another house down the street that he lived in.
Last night he spent most the night convinced that someone was about to attack him. He was paranoid that a stranger was going to break into his room and try and cut off his head.
This is the face of dementia. It’s an ugly disease and one that most people don’t like to talk about. So there you go….I thought I would talk about it. And send out a cyber hug to anyone else who is taking care of aging parents with disabilities.