When people ask me how I am or how dad is, my standard answer is, “Every day with Dad and Alzheimer’s is a new adventure.” It truly is and my whole family is blessed to have him here with us. We do not stress about his “unlearning” or how things will be, but take each day as it comes. And I tell you, we laugh a lot here! Not at his expense, but because finding the humor in it is the only thing to keep everyone sane.
On with this fixation and reality thingy… My boys and hubby are big NCIS fans (I prefer trash TV). Dad is no longer allowed to watch it with them after he thought there was a man with a gun in the house. It took a little bit to figure out how he got that in his head, but NCIS was the culprit. This man with the gun was a fixation for a couple of days and we did much exploring around the house seeking him out. That was my first clue that Dad’s Alzheimer’s makes him unable to separate fact from fantasy (I’ve read about it – but different when it happens to you). Sometimes he thinks the Drew Brees picture is my husband (though we would take his income – we had to take that down for now) and that I am singing on the X-Factor (lordy – I am tone deaf). He also can get fixated on a thought. These bouts of OCD can last a few hours or a few days. Sometime they even resurface after being gone a bit and sometimes they go to rest in the OCD grave forever (Snoopy Dance)!!! Fixations can start as a happy thought or a dream and possibly start driving him crazy (and everyone else if we did not laugh). Ya – my husband always eggs these on when he gets home from work- UGH!
The topic of the moment knows no end until the next thing comes along. There has been the song Danny Boy (Danny was in the house somewhere), wanting to rake leaves, that guy (his reflection), dangerous small children that were an inch high (sparked from story time at the library which he loves), 2 men that took all his money, money…the list goes on and on. Kind of like a skipped record (if anyone knows what that means anymore), seems the Alzheimer’s brain can just get stuck and not move on from a thought. As for the reality part, I think of it like having a dream that seemed so vivid when you wake up. After you get your bearings and rub your eyes, you snap back to reality, where Dad can not. And don’t worry, not all these OCD/fantasy behaviors are negative – some of them are welcome. He gets on a coloring roll, and I can’t get him enough papers to color and markers to make him happy. Also, some of these fantasies aren’t so bad either, but can become frustrating to him if he can’t sort them out and it goes on too long. I will say this – if I never hear the song “Danny Boy” again – that is fine with me!!!