Dad is sinking more and more into his happy world and away from us. I view Alzheimer’s Disease as a process of unlearning and unpredictable firing of the brain. As time goes on, his brain may have unlearned many of the things we take for granted, such as chewing food or putting on glasses, while parts of his brain have actually gone into maximum-overdrive. Last week, I put Dad to bed at his normal time, gave him his sleep and relaxation medications and he could not sleep. He started talking…and when I say talking…I mean talking…non-stop! He has done 3-4 hours a night of talking, absolutely over-riding all his medications (he took last night off – phew). When I spoke to the Hospice Nurse regarding this new behavior, she informed me that Dad is “working.” He knows he in his final stages of life and in his mind he has some unfinished business. She told me that a patient could be given horse tranquilizers (tongue in cheek) and still not shut off their brain in order to get their “work” done.
Dad has been “working” at his desk, conducting his orchestra, driving the trolley through Boston and giving directions to tourists, talking to his family as a child and so much more. It is non-stop action in his mind and it can go from jumbled to easy to understand intermittently. As I type this, he is engrossed in a conversation with himself and perfectly content. Agitation also has come into the picture with the late stages of the disease, just par for the course. Hospice has that under control with “comfort” measures to keep him at peace while he continues to “work.”
And for those who are not sure what someone with Alzheimer’s actually understands, after observing and caring for Dad, I can say that he takes in way more than most would give him credit for. For example, we had Christmas music playing while he watched us decorate the tree this weekend. A day later he randomly broke out singing “Silent Night.”
As sad and awful a disease as Alzheimer’s is, there are so many treasured memories we have made during this time. We just accept each day he spends with us as a blessing. The kids roll with the disease better than most adults do. When I have moved him too fast on occasion, he has blurted out to me, “I’m a human being, not an animal.” It is now my job to treat my Dad, Sherman Marcus, with the dignity and respect he deserves until he is done “working” and officially retires.