When a normal day with your demented parent is alarming

I visited with my parents yesterday. They both have moderate dementia but fail to recognize it in themselves or each other. They are now my “Gang of Two.”

Many parts of the visit felt normal. Then I get home to tell my husband and start with “Well, they were at the townhouse because they thought my brother was flying in today.”

I am very sure neither brother was flying in. My parents can’t recall why they thought that. I rearrange my plan for the day by taking them with me to a tennis match. They sat in the stands and cheered me on. We then went grocery shopping and I took them back to their retirement community.

As I’m leaving a tornado warning is announced and the power at the retirement community goes out. We light candles and chit-chat as we watch the storm clouds roll through.  When the storm subsides, I head home. It was a nice visit with my parents.

We had a few contentious moments when they bring up the car issue but it quickly passes. I stick to the minimal facts, tell them we love them and I understand how they must feel frustrated.

I realize the day only seemed like the old normal because we had a pleasant time together. I didn’t leave in tears, frustrated or totally depressed. The advice about keeping busy is true for both care giver and someone with dementia.

I love the expression “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” and have seen how true that is when it comes to spending time with my parents. When in motion, my mom doesn’t have time to focus on her broken record topics.

Getting them out of their home and having an activity to watch or a task to accomplish makes a world of difference. Fascinated.

Why wait until?

One woman in California, Carolyn A. Brent, is working to close many of the legal loop holes that make helping a parent with dementia so difficult. She wrote a book Why Wait? Unfortunately, most of us are already knee-deep in the swamp, but I hope her book helps others.

I have already been accumulating my list of the ways I want to age better than my parents. That lists continues to grow as I walk through this process.

What I do know is that most people have not organized even the most basic information should there ever be a medical crisis and someone needs to step in to fill their shoes.  You may have the will and medical directives, but you have not documented, in ONE place, all of your financial accounts, usernames and passcodes; details on your medical history; access information to your online accounts like email and social media.

When I had to step in and gather this information for my parents, it took me more than six months to pull together the big stuff. I turned the organization and documentation system I created into a product that can help everyone get organized. It’s one of the kindest things you can do to assist a loved one.

I hope you will take a moment to learn more about the MemoryBanc® Register system and see how it can help get you organized.

If you are a caregiver, I hope you will consider using this tool to help support your parent(s), and make sure you have the back-up systems in place should someone be able to step in and help you.

Thanks to Butch who actively posts great information on his blog amidst his own challenges with his parents  and brought this book to my attention.