My Dad, known as Zeydeh to everyone (Jewish Grandfather for you slow kids), has happily entered in his Alzheimer’s Disease, what we now refer to as the “Zaydeh Zone.” In a previous post I wrote about his end of life “working.” The “working” post was referring to him overriding all his sleep medications and staying up all hours of the night talking and working things out (which he is still doing). The “Zaydeh Zone” seems to be more of an Alzheimer’s stage he spends most of his time in these days. He has been on a bit of a rollercoaster lately as his disease progresses, health issues come into play, and his sleep and strength needs do no align on a consistent basis (schedule out the door). Dad was always a very busy person (like me) and had a lot of energy to burn. Now that he does not have the strength to walk or understanding to do much for himself, seems his energy reserve has transferred to his brain going non-stop. Christmas Eve he sat at the table with us while we played Monopoly for a few hours, sang and talked the entire time – happy as can be. He is able to adapt to his daytime anti-agitation medications doses and still stay in his zone and keep plugging along. If you talk to him or engage him in the “Zaydeh Zone” he may or may not reply. He does not smile on command any more, but can be caught smiling while talking to himself, even laughing.
The “Zaydeh Zone” has become family entertainment and how we are all coping with him losing touch with reality. My kids are actually embracing it amazingly (ages 15, 13, 11). Dad sleeps in what used to be the playroom. It still has a couch, TV and video games, so the kids get sporadic time in there- with dad getting first dibs. It used to be, when he was napping or going to sleep, the boys (who rule the video games over Princess), used to wait until he was fast asleep to slip back in there to play again. He used to register in some sense what was on the TV screen and get scared or react to different things, so they also had to sensor what they watched. Now with the long hours dad is putting in entertaining himself, the only thing I make them do is turn out the light at night. He can often be seen sitting next to them as they watch TV or play a game, chatting away to his heart’s content. They have concocted some stories of their own regarding dad’s past to play along. Their newest joke is that they are convinced he was in the mafia. He has got into a few arguments in the “Zaydeh Zone” and has even yelled. Whatever works for the family – works for me. As long as Dad is happy and comfortable (which he is), we are just happily along for the ride and embracing each transition as a family.
This picture was taken on December 20th. For the 5 plus months my Dad has lived with us, we have gone on daily 1 mile walks with Chulo (almost every warm day). Since his recent hospitalization and upon entering Hospice, I was pretty sure these walks were over. This day we had remarkably warm weather and he was strong enough to sit up, so I jumped at the opportunity. In the past he had pointed at all the flowers and pretty yard ornaments as we went along. This was the first walk he was in his “zone” just rambling along talking to himself, yet still seemed so happy to be outdoors (he loves being outside). I am not sure if we will have many more of these days, but have enjoyed each walk with him (and so did Chulo).
I would like to to take this time to thank all of you who have allowed me and Dad into your lives via social media or real life friendships. It means more to me than you know. If I can help just one person through my writing and social media, then it is worth it. On the selfish side, I continue to call it my “FREE THERAPY!”