Let’s not have the doctor tell your father he has Alzheimer’s

stethoscopeHeartWhile my parents are in Assisted Living and receive medical care and support for their activities of daily living, I still want to continue their habit of an annual physical with their military doctors. It allows me to ensure that I am well versed on their medical state, understand and ask questions. Most of their appointments in Assisted Living happen when I’m not present and it’s difficult to piece together from the reports. Many times I can’t read the doctor’s hand writing.

As we sit in the medical office waiting for the doctor to arrive, my Mom is telling me that Dad is not doing very well. She is angry that he doesn’t engage in more activities and won’t join us on our shopping trips. Repeatedly, I have shared that Dad can’t help that his brain has changed, which changes him. I tell her he might feel uncomfortable leaving their home. When my Mom continues to complain to me, I will usually softly tell her that Dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “Oh” she replies.

This is not the first time I have told her this, but she doesn’t remember. I try my best not to resort to this because each time I tell her, it feels like she is hearing the news for the first time. Each time, she is noticeably saddened by the news.

She asks if this means she should be a little kinder to him. She admits to chiding him for sitting and reading all day and showing no interest in any activities. She knows that he is going to see the doctor after her and says “Let’s not have the doctor tell your father he has Alzheimer’s.” Beloved.