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Six Years In

I miss my dad.

He’s still alive.

Since his diagnosis of young-onset Alzheimer’s six years ago, me and my mum dedicated our lives to caregiving.  He was only 56 and couldn’t do crosswords anymore.  He was having trouble finding words.  He knew something was wrong and thought he was going crazy.  My friends in medicine thought it was a brain tumour – but they didn’t tell me that at the time.

The diagnosis was a relief for him, and an absolute blow to me and Mum.

I had just started a Master’s program, and she had to retire early because of his increasing needs.

Caregiving is so complicated.  You become acutely aware of moments of happiness, silliness, tenderness, quiet.  That time my dad didn’t want to drink anymore green smoothies and he hid the blender behind the microwave.  The way he used to pretend to be a model after I would style his hair.  They way he used to savour his coffee with a “ahhh” after each sip.  Every. Damn. Sip.  On purpose.

You’re hyper aware of these moments – because you never know when you’re going to have something for the “last” time.

There’s been a lot of last times recently.  A last time he spoke a coherent sentence.  The last time he came home from the long-term care (LTC) facility.  The last time we shared a joke.

He still recognizes me, and I cherish that – but I know that last time is coming soon.

He’s become aggressive.  And frenetic.  Agitated.  He had to go to a psychiatric hospital for monitoring recently and it’s breaking my heart.

Six years in, Mum and I are still caregiving – but in a much more administrative way.  Power of attorney stuff, making sure he’s clean, double checking that his “episodes” are notated by staff so that if/when he’s able to go back to LTC there are proper supports in place.

But we’ve changed.  This has changed us.  And we’re trying to put the pieces of our lives back together – but it’s hard.  We do things to fill the hole that’s been left in our lives, but we’re just going through the motions.

I miss my dad.

He’s still alive.

Stef Fraser
Alzheimer’s Post Of The Day

2 Comments

  • Noni Cherry

    Beautifully written. Stef and sadly so true for those caring for loved ones with Alzheimers. Keep strong and always share your feelings when it gets too hard. Hugs and love.

  • Anita Hogeveen

    I well remember this journey. My mom was diagnosed at 60. It is hard. My heart goes out to you.

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