When Your Parent Has Alzheimer’s Disease

My dad and me

When my dad was originally diagnosed several years ago with Alzheimer’s Disease, he was just forgetful. He put his keys down and couldn’t find them. Or, he lost his phone even though it was in his pocket. One time when I was there and leaving for the airport to go home, I was frantically looking for my phone. His phone was on the counter. I called my phone from his phone and heard ringing from his pocket.

“Dad, my phone is in your pocket,” I said to him. I laughed. He laughed.

As the Years Went By

As the years went by, he started to get worse and worse. He started repeating himself. I heard the same story at least 15 times. He remembered more about the past than he did about the present day.

After his girlfriend died, he started to fall a lot. I was so worried that instead of living in an independent living facility, I asked if he could go to assisted living.

COVID-19 and Dementia

COVID-19 was his downfall. When he was locked in his apartment and couldn’t come out because of COVID, his mental state significantly declined. I needed to get him out of where he was living and my first thought was to get him somewhere closer to my brother in Boca. That’s how I found Katya and her group homes in Boca and Delray Beach.

They were absolutely lovely and she provided round the clock care. At first, he kept asking me to take him home but now, he doesn’t say that any longer.

And Today…

Now, I can barely talk with him. I usually have a 2-minute conversation and then it’s over. If the conversation is longer, it’s no longer about the past or him repeating himself, it’s about something that is so far out there, it’s hard for me to comprehend.

For example, he told me that he swam the entire lake. “I swam from that point to all the way out there,” he said and pointed. “I swam fast. I was surprised at how fast I could swim.” He was so convincing that when my daughter heard it, she asked me if it were true. That was a good day.

The bad days are when I call him. He’s not sure who I am and after 30 seconds the phone drops and he forgets I’m there.

On a Good Day

But, on a good day, he talks with me about some miscellaneous things like today, he said he was having issues with one of the women. But, no one knew what he was talking about. Then, he told me he had a dog that ran away. The other day, we talked about how he was going to Mars. I told him I would like to join him. (I never realized how my father had such a vivid imagination!)

This Week

I finally got my COVID vaccinations and I got on a plane to see my dad. It has been almost a year. My flight was on Monday and the Friday before, he went to the hospital because he had pneumonia. He rapidly declined in the hospital and the only way to get him out was to put him on hospice.

I got him out on Sunday and Monday when I arrived, he was curled in a ball in his bed. He was shaking. When he saw me, he lit up. He didn’t know my name and he didn’t know the relationship to him that I had but he was happy to see me.

Thankfully, the next couple of days got better. When I saw him the next day, he was sitting up. After that, he continued to sit up and by the last day he was somewhat alert.

I bought him a “I love you Daddy” book about a bear and his baby bear. My dad loved the book.He couldn’t stop laughing and that made my heart melt.

Although it was a roller coaster week, I have to say that I was grateful to have gotten the vaccine and grateful that I was able to see him.

I’m not sure what will happen the next time I see him but I’m going to take it day by day…

BTW, If you are going through something similar and need assistance, call the Russo Law Group at 800-680-1717 or visit their new website at https://www.vjrussolaw.com/.