The Twilight Years Are Here

The Twilight Years Are Here

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Worth the Read (Snagged from Cyberspace)

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.
One nurse took her copy to Melbourne .. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.
And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man.....
What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you're looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . ... . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . ... lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. ...Babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future ... . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I've known.
I'm now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It's jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. .... . ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within ... . . .
we will all, one day, be there, too!
The best and most beautiful things of this world can't be seen or touched.
They must be felt by the heart.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Jesus H. Christ in the Foothills"

The other day, Dad disappeared in the direction of his bedroom 11 different times over a 5 hour period. On average, he was back there 15-30 minutes each time. Each time he came back to the living room, he would wish me a good morning, ask how I had slept, tell me how much he liked my “new hair” and then ask me to fix him a bowl of cereal. And each time, I would respond as if I hadn’t heard it all already, time and time again. We were stuck cycling through his version of the movie “Groundhog Day”. For the first time in ages, I was relieved that his Sundowner’s finally arrived to break the spell he was under. I was also very thankful to have my job to go to.

Today was such a good day. I pulled out dresser drawers filled with Mom’s stuff and sat on the living room floor next to Dad and went through it all. We narrowed 7 drawers (full of photos, old correspondence, antique linens, etc.) down to 2 drawers of stuff that will need further perusal. We managed to throw out the rest. We talked and laughed and showed each other the things we found of interest. For the first time, in longer than I can remember, Dad was clear. He was alert and aware. We finally managed to accomplish something that has needed doing for over 2 years. As I write this, I am already clinging to the warmth and clarity we shared today. I wish it weren’t so fleeting.

The setting sun is the enemy once again. As the sun sank slowly in the west, Dad became more and more confused. He was shocked to learn that Richard lives here and that I am his wife... over and over again we went over it and, over and over again, he was shocked. He got me to call Richard twice so he could talk to him. He insists that nobody told him that Richard lives here and that it’s been months since he has seen him (he sees him every day!).

Apparently my being agitated causes me to count things because I seem to be all about numbers tonight. Dad opened the front door and stepped on the porch 7 times looking for “Richard and his wife”. He is excited because he will finally be meeting his daughter-in-law! At one point, he stumbled on the threshold and I reached out to steady him. With surprising strength, he knocked me backwards. I lost my balance and tumbled backwards over an ottoman landing in an inelegant heap on the floor. To which he exclaimed, “Jesus H. Christ in the Foothills”. In total, he said it 51 times between dinner and going to bed. As a rule, this particular expression is reserved for times of extreme stress. Obviously, tonight is beyond stressful to him. He sat down and rose from his chair (which is getting increasingly more difficult with each passing day) 16 times in 2 hours. I have never seen him more restless than he was tonight.

When he was finally ready to call it a night, he came to me and kissed me goodnight. He turned toward his room but only took a couple of steps before he turned around and came back to kiss me goodnight. He then, made his way halfway across the room before turning back, exclaiming, you guessed it, “Jesus H. Christ in the Foothills”! I rose and made my way to him, gently turning him back toward his room. He kissed me for the third time before finally making it into the hallway.

“Goodnight, Dad. I love you!” I called after him.

“Goodnight, Sweetheart,” came the reply. “I love you, too.” He stuck his head back around the corner and said, “Let me know when Richard and his wife get here, will ya? I need to let him know I love him, too.”


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I'm NOT Your Dad

Sunday was Father’s Day. I put all of his gifts into a large gift bag; a new flag for the front yard (his is still good but living at the beach, they don’t last long), a 6 pack of undershirts (I threw all the old ones away the night before), his favorite cookies, imported chocolates and a collage of photographs of Mom. His delight was obvious as he pulled each item out. When he was finished, he put everything back in the bag and set it on the floor next to his chair. He was cheerful and relatively lucid and stayed that way most of the day.

Every hour or so after that, he would “discover” his gift bag and “open his gifts”. He spent the afternoon telling me what a wonderful birthday he was having and thanking me for everything. Finally, I decided we would try something a bit different. The next time he “opened” his gifts, I suggested we put the pictures of Mom on the coffee table where he could see it. He loved the idea and I spent many minutes placing it exactly where and how he wanted it on the table. The next time he “opened” his gifts I made a big deal over his undershirts, opened the package and folded them as he continued to dig through his bag. When he was done, I took the undershirts to his room and put them away. This little game continued until dinner was ready and the bag was finally empty.

At dinner, he was starting to show the signs of Sundowner’s but only slightly. By the time dessert rolled around he was still cognizant enough to ask if he was getting birthday cake to go with his ice cream. I laughed and told him between the cookies and chocolates he’d eaten all afternoon I thought he had probably had enough sweets for the day. For the first time in a very long time, we honestly had a good day. While he may not remember it, he gave me a Father’s Day to remember and cherish.

Monday morning was a totally different story. Dad didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed he woke up on the wrong side of Alzheimer’s. From the instant he stepped into the room, it was obvious we were going to have a rough morning. DeeAnn, The Shower Lady, was coming shortly so there wasn’t enough time to eat breakfast. I made him a piece of toast and a glass of water so he could take his meds. He wanted cereal and became quite petulant when I explained repeatedly that he could have anything he wanted AFTER his shower.
“I don’t want to wait. I want cereal now and if you don’t get it for me you can find yourself another job!”

Exasperated, I retreated to the kitchen. As soon as I turned the water on to wash a couple of dishes, he demanded I “come here right now. I’m talking to you!” Turning the water off, I looked back to him, “Yes, Dad?”
“I’M NOT YOUR DAD!” he shouted. “I have had it with you being impertinent. You can call me Bill. On second thought, you need to get your things together and GET OUT! This is my G*#d%mn house and I’m tired of you telling me what to do. YOU…ARE…FIRED!”
I took a deep breath as my hands gripped the counter until my knuckles turned white. I faced him across the bar and said, “I know this is your house, but you can’t fire me because I don’t work for you. You have been my Dad for the last 31 years so I am going to continue to call you Dad.”

Shaking with barely suppressed fury, he came around the counter. “Get the hell out of my house. I don’t want you here. You don’t do anything for me and I don’t want you to. You are fired, fired, fired!”
“You can’t fire me because I don’t work for you!”
“Oh sure, you work here for free. I’m supposed to believe that? If you are working here for free then you have something very wrong with you. Nobody works for free. Who do you work for? Give me their number so I can call them and have them fire you.”
My voice dropped to a dangerously low level, “Dad, I don’t work here. I am your daughter-in-law and I have lived here for 3 years and taken care of you. Nobody can fire me because we are in this together and we are going to be until the very end.”

Frustrated, he sat down and finally ate his toast and took his medications. I was so relieved when DeeAnn arrived just so I could walk away. As soon as she left, the nurse, Stephanie, arrived. It was obvious to her that Dad was not having a good morning. He snapped at everything I said until she finally called him out on it and asked him to be nice to me. She also explained that there are certain questions she has to ask me because I am the only person who knows the answers. Bless her heart, she really tried to get him off my back but he was there to stay.

By the time noon rolled around, I had been told to shut the f*ck up 3 times and I had been fired 4. Needless to say it was a rough morning for everybody. By the end of the day, I managed to get 6, “I’m not your Dad’s” before I got one single, “I love you, Sweetheart.” You can’t begin to imagine how grateful I was to go to work… or how much I worried about him after I left…

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kidney Update & Dad Tries to Score a Date

On Friday (June 15th), we went to see the kidney specialist. We couldn't have hoped for better news than we got. Dad's lab work was amazingly good. His kidney function rose again and is now at 47%. You may remember that he was at 45% back in March and 32% last year. He is making actual progress which is something that is virtually impossible. He is considered a medical miracle by many. For the first time in years, instead of his regular quarterly check-up, he doesn't go back until the end of December. That's 6 whole months!

Dad was in rare form during the visit. He had the doctor laughing the entire time. One thing I like about Dr. Jimenez is his genuine interest in Dad's well being. You can tell he really likes Dad and enjoys their visits.
At one point, the doctor asked Dad if he had any complaints. Dad launched into his diatribe on having his driving privileges taken away. Dr Jimenez has heard this many times before. Dad said he didn't know why they won't let him drive just that he isn't allowed to. He followed it up by seriously announcing that Dr. Bolton was the one who did it... "the son-of-a-bitch!" Our eyes locked for a brief instant before we both looked away and burst out laughing. Dad crossed his arms over his chest and jutted his chin out, "Well, he is!"

On our way out, I had to stop and make his next appointment. Dad sat down in the waiting room and struck up a conversation with an attractive lady that looked to be in her late 60's or early 70's. I was busy talking to the girl at the desk for several minutes. She was telling me how much she enjoys listening to Dad talk because he is so funny. That she looks forward to his appointments. Feeling like a proud mother who receives compliments on their unruliest child, I thanked her for her kind words and turned to leave.

Now clearly focusing my attention back on Dad, I turned just in time to hear him ask the lady he was talking to for her phone number. She started digging in her purse (I presume looking for a pen but I'm not sure). He suggested they could go out to dinner some night. Then he explained that he can't drive so somebody else would have to. "They took away my driver's license and made me sell my brand new Lincoln I had just ordered from the factory because I have a disease." Looking my way, he asked, "Sweetheart, what do I have?"

I smiled, "Alzheimer's. Dad, you know if you want to go out to dinner or anywhere else, all you have to do is ask and I will gladly drive you". I smiled at the lady as she snapped her purse shut. She smiled at me and nodded, telling Dad it had been nice talking to him and wishing him a good day.

As we walked out the door, I thought to myself how easily he could forget from one moment to the next. But he stopped me in the hall and turned to me with a twinkle in his eyes. "One of these days, I might surprise you and find a lovely lady to run away with since you won't run away with me."

I pulled into the driveway and reached to turn the ignition off. Dad stopped me, "Where are we going now?" I replied home. He asked if we could go get a burger. As I backed out of the driveway, he said he wanted to go to Appleberries (his nickname for Applebee's). As soon as we entered the building, he needed to go to the restroom. I pointed to the table where we would be sitting and then directed him to the restroom (the table is ideally situated as he can't get far from the restroom without me seeing him). I ordered our drinks and said I wanted to wait until my companion came back before ordering.

When I finally saw him about 20 minutes later, I went to assist him. We made it within 4 feet of the table before he apologized and said he needed to go back to the restroom. I asked if he would like me to order and he said, "Cheeseburger & fries," as he wandered back the way he had just come.

Another 10-15 minutes went by before I heard his voice, slightly shaky and a bit panicky, asking a waitress, "Where's Shari? I can't find Shari! Where is she?" I jumped to my feet and made it to the corner at the same time he did. His relief was visible as soon as he saw me. I assisted him to our table and we sat down. Within minutes, he was fidgeting and kept saying, "It really is cold in here, isn't it? Why is it so cold in here? I'm freezing."

Finally, I turned to him and asked if he would rather get the food to-go and take it home to eat. Of course, he thought that was a wonderful idea. I called the waiter over and asked if he could please change our order to go. 5 minutes later we were headed home.

Everything was great when we got home. For the second day in a row, Dad had not taken a nap all day. He was lucid and in good humor... until just before dinner time. As the sun sank lower on the horizon, he became disoriented and confused. He kept asking me questions like "What time do you go home? How long have you worked here? What do I pay you? Who are you married to? What does your husband do for a living? Where did you come from?" etc. For over 3 hours, I answered the same questions over and over.
By the time he finally crawled into bed, I think we were both equally ready for the day to end.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Home Health to the Rescue (My Rescue)

Being a caregiver is a 24/7 job. You live your life for someone else, always putting their needs before your own. In a lot of ways, that’s the hardest part. It’s hard to understand how difficult it can be to even work in 30 minutes to take an uninterrupted bath. Your time is not your own. You have to consider how your every action might affect the person you are caring for.

It is so much more intense than being a new parent but similar in many ways. I find myself checking to see if he is breathing as he slumps in his chair napping his days away. I find myself waking frequently at night and listening for the sounds of him breathing through the monitor. Instead of diapers you deal with Depends. Instead of crying you deal with cursing and yelling.

At times, he won’t let me out of his sight. If I leave the room for even a couple of minutes, he becomes hostile or pouts, insisting that everything is more important to me than he is. At other times, he wants me to go away and leave him alone, to quit hovering and telling him what to do. Frustration, helplessness, and a sense of feeling overwhelmed have become my constant companions. Alzheimer’s takes hostages and makes enemies. It sucks you into the trenches and fights dirty. It is a war you cannot win.

However, you can fight it and perhaps even slow it down. I started by contacting Dad’s general physician and asked if we could be reassigned to a home health agency we have worked with in the past. I told them honestly that I needed help getting Dad to be more active. That he is in dire need of contact with humanity and that I am in a bit over-my-head at this point.

On Saturday, we met Sylvia. She is the RN that will be working with us through a home health agency. She got a pretty clear picture of where his disease is developmentally while doing his intake. She suggested bringing in physical therapy, occupational therapy, a podiatrist (to help with his ¼ inch thick toenails) and an aide (who will help get him properly showered, shaved, etc. once a week). At this point, it is a constant battle to try to convince him to take a shower, it’s a battle I usually lose. It probably won’t be much longer before I will have to get in the shower with him to bathe him.

When Sylvia asked what the chief medical complaint was, I replied “caregiver burnout”. The look in her eyes clearly told me she understood. By the time she left, I wanted to throw my arms around her in a BIG hug. I also wanted to cry with relief, feeling so much less alone in my care for him.

Today (Monday), we met Helen. Helen will be his physical therapist. For the first time ever, he was not on his best behavior with a stranger around. He acted up enough to give her a pretty clear idea of what I am dealing with. He was very ugly to me every time I spoke (though he couldn’t answer any of the questions himself). At one point, he even yelled at me to “shut the f*ck up”! In a way, I was equally humiliated and relieved that someone outside our household had finally seen his dark side.

Helen will be coming 3 times a week to start and believes that she can get him to be more mobile. She is also going to work with me on ways to get him off the floor when he falls. I think we are off to a positive start. I went out to speak to her when she left and we discovered that she had been Peggy’s (the lady I take care of a couple of nights a week) physical therapist last fall. She has a very clear idea of what my life is like and I think she may turn out to be a valuable asset in Dad’s life.

I am already feeling that my load is a bit lighter. Just knowing that we are making some sort of progress to better improve the quality of Dad’s life makes my life brighter. I only wish I had known before now that there were resources available, you just have to know where to look.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Comment I Received

I received a comment from someone who has been reading my blog. My blog is open to anyone but I have the right to publish comments, or not (I chose not to). I wasn't planning to share it, but a friend of mine has encouraged me to copy, paste and post it as it's own post and to encourage comments on it. So, the following is exactly the message I received...

"I have been reading your blog and I think it is so wrong of you to put your father’s Alzheimer's onto cyberspace. Your blog is the whiniest crap I have ever read. It was your choice to be his caregiver so you should shut up and live with it. I feel so sorry for your dad that he has a daughter like you taking care of him. I bet you are just sitting there waiting for him to die. Get over yourself and quit writing this crap because nobody wants to hear it!"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Pop's Outta Trol"

After dinner I had cleaned the kitchen and was sitting at my computer while the kids played in their playhouse. Dad was watching TV in the living room. I suddenly remembered I had promised Mama I would call her after dinner. I got her on the phone and our conversation got a little animated. (That part of the story is too long to write but I would love to share it some time as it is QUITE exciting!) Anyway, Dad was getting restless and kind of squirming in his chair. Even though they weren't loud, I cautioned the kids to keep it down. He continued his agitation and began making noises like banging his glass down on the table and sucking air through his teeth. I cut the conversation short and got off the phone.

I told the kids to pick up their stuff because it was almost time to go downstairs. Dad struggled to rise from his chair and turned to face the kids. He was shaky as he grabbed the back of his chair and said, "You kids get your sh*t out of here and go home. Don't you have parents somewhere?" Then he turned to me and said, "You, too. This is my Go#d*mn house and if you think I'm going to turn it over to you so you can run a nursery school, you're out of you f$*king mind! You better find another job because I don't want the likes of you here in MY house."

I bent down to the kids (they edged toward me quickly when he started his tirade). I hugged them close and told them to go downstairs to the spare room and watch TV til I got there. I looked Ayla straight in the eyes and made her promise to stay there and keep TyTy there until I got downstairs. She nodded her head and whispered seriously, "I know, Nonni. Pop's outta trol." She took TyTy by the hand and led him to the stairs.

I turned to the bar and began gathering my things (computer, charger, phone, paperwork, etc.). Dad tottered toward me. "Don't forget your walker, Dad," I reminded with my back to him. Suddenly, he grabbed my arm with more strength than I would have credited him for having and swung me around to face him. Less than a couple inches from my nose, he began yelling, "DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO! THIS IS MY GO#D*MN HOUSE! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE AND DON'T COME BACK. I DON'T WANT YOU HERE."

I was pinned between him and the bar with a bar stool on either side of me so couldn't easily move. My only way out was to bump a stool out of the way with my hip. I turned to do just that and Dad suddenly swung out with his right hand and smacked me across the face. My first thought was, "Wow, he has big hands!". He managed to catch me from my ear to my chin. Ear ringing and cheek stinging, I blinked back the tears that threatened.

With no hesitation, I reached out and grabbed him by the pockets on his shirt, using the fabric to give me something to keep him from falling, as I pushed him away from me. Snatching my stuff up, I made it halfway across the room before he shouted at me, "I'm going to call the police and have you thrown out of my house! I don't want you here and I'm not giving you another penny. I don't know who hired you and I don't care. I just want you out of here. GET OUT! GET THE HELL OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!"

Right this minute I wish I could. My cheek is a tiny bit sore still and my heart hurts. Life is getting harder with Dad. I sure wish there was somebody who could take care of him for a week and give me a break away. I feel like his disease is sucking the life right out of me. I deal with it day in and day out. Some days it's difficult to even go to the bathroom without causing him alarm. He hates me to be out of sight. The good times are the memories I will keep if I can keep the bad memories from dragging me under.

Lord, give me strength, wisdom and courage...

Monday, June 4, 2012

I Wonder Why God Doesn't Like Turtles

One of the Stage 6 tricks we’ve come to know intimately is the “after nap meltdown”. Dad takes a nap nearly every afternoon. No matter how clear he may be when he lies down, he wakes up suffering from paranoid delusions. I am positive he’s dreaming the things he describes but he is utterly convinced that they are real and happening around him.
A couple of days ago, he walked around the living room loading his walker with photos of Mom, a couple of magazines, his cookies, etc. I asked him what he was doing. He told me he had to pack because the military people who were taking over the house would be here soon. According to him, he had been in contact with some military people and they needed the house for a “top secret hideout”. He was very upset that he couldn’t remember which branch of the military it was. “Not that it matters”, he said. “As long as they are fighting for the US of A, it’s all the same.”
It took me almost 2 hours to convince him it was all just a dream. About the time he started accepting that, he looked around the room. He wiped his shaky hands over his wrinkled face and said quite loudly, “Jesus H. Christ in the Foothills! What is happening to me?” Tears welled up in his eyes as he looked over at me. “Sweetheart, what is happening to me?”
I went to him and knelt next to his chair. I took his hand in mine. “It’s that darn disease, Dad. It’s just messing with you right now.” I kissed him on the cheek. “It’ll be okay in a little while. Why don’t you see what’s happening on the Weather Channel for me. I heard it might rain.” I thank God frequently for building an ADD mechanism into Alzheimer’s. I made it to the kitchen before I started to cry.

In the course of one afternoon recently, Dad was in a plane, a boat, and on a streetcar. He interrupted his own story several times to ask me when “Johnny was coming home”. Each time I would reply, “Dad, Johnny isn’t coming home. He passed away more than 40 years ago.” Johnny was his brother.
Dad: “Oh, who are you married to then?”
Me: “Richard.”
Dad: “Richard who?”
Me: “Richard, he is your youngest child.”
Dad: “Oh sure. I knew that. Of course, I knew that.” He goes back to watching TV for a minute. I head toward the kitchen. “Say, Sweetheart, when you get a minute can you come here? I really need to talk to you about this flying business.”
I go back and sit down. “What about this flying business?”
Dad: “I think the government is asking too much from me. I told that guy that took me up in his plane this morning that I just think I am too old to be flying planes anymore. I’m honored they offered me the job. I know we need the money but I think we should tell him to find somebody else. What do you think?”
Me: “I think you’re right, Dad. Should I give him a call for you?”
Dad: “I would appreciate it, Sweetheart. I can always count on you.”
Not knowing what else to do, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed my voicemail. With Dad hanging on my every word, I explained that his doctors really didn’t think a 90 year old man should be flying a plane. I even said that his medication could cause problems at high altitudes but that he wanted them to know he was deeply honored to be asked. When I finished my “call” he visibly relaxed and held his hand out toward me. I got up and took it in mine. He squeezed my hand then kissed the back of it. “That was perfect. Thank you. I don’t know what I would do without you… except die.”
I dropped a kiss on the top of his head. “Well, I’m not going anywhere but to the kitchen to start dinner, so you don’t have to worry about doing without me.”

Sundowner’s Syndrome is a huge factor in our everyday life. Dad becomes more confused and disoriented as the sun gets lower on the horizon. He becomes an entirely different person than he is at any other time of day. Once the sun sets, it’s a 50/50 prospect of whether he will snap out of it or not. Lately, it is more not. He is far more paranoid at night and at times, he is hostile.

Another fact of stage 6: Dad seems to have forgotten some basic things. He seldom flushes the toilet. I go behind him and do it. He soils his clothing and is unaware of it until I get out clean clothes and make him change into them. He goes to the kitchen at night for a coke or some ice cream and things turn up in the craziest places. For example: BBQ sauce in the dishwasher and dish soap in the microwave.

Day before yesterday, I opened the seat of his walker. The following is a list of the contents: 2 empty coke cans, 1 ½ packs of oatmeal cookies (he hides them from the kids even though they all know where they are), a toy airplane still in the pack (Ayla gave it to him for his birthday last Nov.), 3 plastic cups, 1 glass, 2 magazines, a week old newspaper, a flashlight, a spoon and a dirty ice cream bowl. So now, I have to check it frequently to clear the daily debris. I’m guessing he has been putting things in there with the intentions of taking them to the kitchen then promptly forgetting them. “Out of sight, out of mind” is never truer than with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Dad is finding it more difficult to keep up with normal conversations around him. He often complains that everyone talks too fast for him to keep up with. He can’t follow television shows for the same reasons. It seems like his brain is in constant misfire mode and the only thing any of us can do to help is to slow down our speech. He also sleeps an average of about 16 hours a day and is apt to wander around aimlessly at night.

I hate that it is getting harder to reach him as he is slowly drawing into himself. Yesterday, he commented, “I feel like a turtle inside his suitcase (shell). The world keeps passing me by and I don’t even feel like sticking my head out to see what’s happening. Sometimes I wish I could just stay there.” He settled into his chair and reached out a hand for me. I took it as I stood beside him. “I sure wish I knew what God has in mind for me because I can’t see any reason for Him to make me keep living without my bride. Maybe He doesn’t like turtles.” He shook his head sadly, "I wonder why God doesn't like turtles?"
To which there is simply no reply.