As a writer, and someone who shares information with others via the web through social media, I struggled if I should talk about this subject at all. I am all for privacy when it is needed, but I figure writing about it will be therapeutic for me and maybe help others who were in or are in similar situations. I made a promise to myself this past week that I will never complain about things, just accept them and try to make the situation the best it can be. For those of you who know me, that is how I always have been and with the current circumstances, view this no differently.

For four years now, my dad, my hero, Sherm, has had dementia. As recently as this past Mardi Gras, my parents were able to fly down from Boston to enjoy it (dad still talks about how much fun it was catching beads). He had some recent medical issues over the past couple of months that made his status deteriorate quite significantly. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dad is a in Stages 5 & 6 now. My mother and brother have been caring for him all this time and they did not have things easy. Being a caregiver is a tremendous and draining job (hats off to all who do or have done it). For many reasons, a week ago, it was decided that he might thrive better in our house in Louisiana. We live on one level and with mobility issues alone (they have a tri-level), this only made sense. I work from home, my kids are almost 11, 13 & 15 and my husband has always adored my father…so we are giving it a try here. I flew up a week ago and got dad to bring him here. I am learning about what he can and can’t do from one minute to the next, educating myself, getting things in order here and rolling with the punches.

My main goals are the obvious:
* keep his brain stimulated
* establish and maintain a routine
* gain the weight he lost
* make him feel safe
* keep him mobile
* keep him happy and healthy (that covers it all)

He has a new doctor here to coordinate things locally, we already hired a sitter (getting help will be most important) for him and home health services kick in full-force next week (my nurse is my friend so that helps). Fortunately, we found out he does not qualify for Hospice at this time, but it is comforting to know they will be there when we need them. I am truly honored to have this opportunity to care for my father. My family will adapt and the children will cherish the time they get to spend with him as they have never lived near him. Things will not be easy, but life is not supposed to be that way.

And by the way, Yankee dad has now found his new love…Snoballs!

I hope you stay with me as I document our journey from time to time and I invite you to get to know me better on Facebook or Twitter too!

10 Replies to “Alzheimer’s, Dad and Becoming a Caregiver”

  1. Greta,

    I think it is great you are documenting the journey and it gives those of us who care deeply for Sherm and you a way to follow along with you! I know you will cherish this time. Please know he is in my thoughts and prayers daily!


  2. Greta my mom has alzeimers too , I have been living in denial since she was diagnosed 6 years ago but now with our recent phone calls I am having to accept it . I live so far away that sometimes it’s easy to pretend that all is well! I’m ashamed to admit that I dread the phone calls , she was my closest friend my whole life and we had so much fun together. Thankyou for sharing your story , it’s made me realize I cannot run away from this I need to do something. Xxxx

  3. Greta,

    I am so proud of you for writing about this. There are so many hard moments with Alzheimer’s parents. But there are so many great moments as well.

  4. Greta,
    I wish you much love on this journey. And it is a labor of love, isn’t it?
    While my Dad didn’t have dementia, we battled cancer. We were lucky that he was such a stubborn old cuss and fought much longer than the amount of time the Drs had pronounced upon diagnosis. I cherish the time I was given to spend with him as we visited the Cancer treatment centers 3 times a week for months.
    I know this is probably unnecessary, but I want to encourage you to take as many pictures and videos of your Dad and your families interactions as you can….one day too soon, you’ll be glad you did. I have phones I won’t recycle just because they have stored pictures that I can’t bear to lose.
    One more thing, again something you already know, don’t forget to really talk to your Dad as he transitions into other stages. Yes, it may be another era for him, but it will give you insight into a time of his life that you might not know.
    By the way, I see his wonderful smile in yours.
    Be blessed!

  5. The amount of encouragement, advice and knowledge from those who have been down this path has been amazingly overwhelming since i posted this – on here, FB, Twitter and through personal emails. Thank you everyone. I guess it was meant to be that I document all this and share. As others are giving back to me more than I can give.

  6. Greta,

    I am keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers. You are truly remarkable. Your ability to remain positive is a lesson to us all. I have many fond memories of Sherm. He looks so happy in his photo.

  7. Greta,
    We wish you the best through what will be an indredibly difficult journey for your whole family. My Dad was diagnosed with dememtia about 4 months ago. There are days that I see the same symptoms in him that I have been helping Tim cope with, for the last 3 1/2 years. It’s sad. I agree with a previous writer. Take many pictures and videos. I took occasional photos throughout our 25 years, but I take them all the time now. I make scrap books with notes for Tim to look at because he forgets so much. I have found this to be a way of stimulation for him. Sending thoughts and prayers in your direction, look forward to seeing your posts, and please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you.

  8. Greta,

    I just found your blog and wanted to say hello and tell you how brave I think you are for sharing your journey with your father. I’m bookmarking your blog and am looking forward to hearing more of your stories and the things you are doing to keep your father engaged in life.

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