Avoid Mock Holidays after Dementia is Diagnosed

My in-laws were in town two weekends ago and we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving early. We invited my parents and I went to pick them up before our luncheon feast.

In the car on the way over my parents were unusually confounded that it was already Thanksgiving. “No, we are just pretending it is so we can celebrate when Todd’s (my husband) parents are in town.”  They would accept the explanation – only for the topic to be raised again five minutes later.

At one point my dad exclaimed “I thought it was the weekend, I can’t believe it’s Thursday!” I then shared it was the weekend.

We had a great meal together. I had not seen my parents eat as much in months. However, I realize I need to simplify how I talk about the holidays. The advance planning is stressful to my mom in particular. Now, I simply put times and events on their calendar with my name so they know I will be there to coordinate with them.

We will get to spend the real Thanksgiving at our house tomorrow. The big holidays always make you wonder how more of these we will get to spend together. Appreciated.

You are not a burden, please let me help you

This weekend I went to Senior Citizens Law Day in Alexandria, VA. The topics focused on all the legal issues when an individual doesn’t plan. However, I was struck that they did not really address the number of people who plan, but fail to follow the plan.

That is where we sit today. My parents did the will, trust, advanced medical directives and durable and medical power-of-attorney. However, they are moderately demented and are not following the plan for retirement they shared with us – and don’t recognize this in themselves. Now, we are working very hard to follow the guidance they gave us about how they want to spend their senior years.

However, it means we are doing things my parents are very unhappy about. We are working hard to address and recognize their need for value and independence as we move through this process, but it’s difficult when they only remember the outcome, not the issues leading up to it.

When their licenses were revoked and they continued to drive, we parked the cars in a storage facility.

They are continuing to try to split their time between their town house and retirement community but have been unable to have cash to pay for the taxi ride, manage to safely get in (broken in twice) or feed themselves when they are there. They are unable to manage any of their instrumental activities of daily living. We are going to have to do something to help them.

At the event, I had a chat with the seat mate to my right. She wondered why I was there. I told her I have two parents with dementia, and I came to learn. She told me she has five daughters. She said she should have brought one of them to the event with her but she “didn’t want to be a burden.”

I told her that I am sure her daughters would not consider helping her a burden. The only burden my parents have brought to me is that they won’t accept the help they need; they don’t recognize how badly they need assistance to live the life they wanted to lead. Obstructed.