As I was cleaning out some old boxes of papers, I found a booklet on “Managing Alzheimer’s” that was given to my parent’s in 2010. We didn’t know of my father’s diagnosis until a neurologist and psychologist both reported their findings to us in 2012.
In 2010, my siblings and I all noticed a change in my Dad’s normal jovial behavior. He was solemn and talked very little. My brother and sister took him to his primary care provider who referred a local visiting medical service. A nurse visited him in his home every week for six weeks. She called me to say he and my Mom seemed to be doing alright, but told me she left some papers that might help. I remember my Mom commenting on her visits – my parents had no idea why she was visiting them in their home. I’m sure I ended up with the booklet when my Mom was complaining about her last visit.
My Dad’s primary care doctor never alluded to any suspicion of Alzheimer’s — and I visited her with him at least twice after this referral. Looking back, I realize how many signs we had been given. It wouldn’t have changed the journey because my parent’s never acknowledged any issues and we worked to manage through while maintaining their dignity and independence.
Yesterday, as I was going through the mail to pay bills, I found a card from the Alzheimer’s Association that said my Dad had been donating since 2011. My parents habit was to review the charities each January and make one annual donation. In January, 2011, they added the Alzheimer’s Association to their list. My Dad never discussed any medical issues with any of us kids. We inserted ourselves into his care. The only time he pushed back was when the psychologist was going to deliver the results of his neurological testing. He knew he did poorly, he told me so.
He only once mentioned the word Alzheimer’s to me, it was in the final month of his life. As we were in the waiting room to see the first oral surgeon about the lesion on his tongue — he pointed to an advertisement in the magazine and asked me if I knew anyone with Alzheimer’s.
I reflect back on the woman who visited my parents and who left these papers. She already knew and helped provide us with information using kid-gloves. It was all that would have been accepted. Professional Care Givers are a rare breed with skills that continue to elude me. My hope is that we all remember to thank them as often as we can. Reflected & Appreciated.