My parents have pretty much been in denial about their situation. As long as I keep coming and doing everything for them, they think everything is just fine, better than it really is. But their housecleaning lady quit and my daughter quit, so I am left to do everything for them myself. This includes: meds, cleaning, financial such as bill paying. I spent Monday getting the carpet cleaned in their apartment and Tuesday taking Dad to a dentist 50 miles from my home and shopping afterwards. He needed a specialist so it was a long day.
Finally, I had to tell them mid-July that we have six weeks to get something else set up, because I have a special ed high schooler attending school at home. The school year is fast approaching, and I have to make my son my priority at this time.
Since then, I've been interviewing housekeeping help and decided it might be easier to just do it myself rather than be a case manager to keep an eye on the person who comes in their home. Some of the people who interviewed for the job....
At this point they are finally allowing home health to come. They realize it is the best bet for good care as vulnerable seniors. They have dementia and Alzheimer's but they're not fully out of the loop. They just need to face reality. A local nursing home has extended their operation to home health, so an RN is coming next week to evaluate the situation. Now I can get a breather and not worry about what's happening to them.
Then maybe it will extend to getting my mom bathed more often. She's too weak to do it herself, but said, "I don't want any nurses in here," when I brought up the subject of a nursing aide coming in. They don't mind the idea of housekeeping, but anything more personal or nursing-related makes them feel more advanced in their illness, rather than just a consumer hiring a service.
It's an emotional thing to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's. They definitely are NOT totally out of it until some time after the disease has started, middle stage, probably later middle stage. My parents are not there yet. It is a delicate thing to deal with them in a kindly way, but still get their needs truly met. People with Alzheimer's know they are losing their abilities - they realize their mistakes and problems - and it's scary for them, and sad, so I try to be careful about how I word things and go about handling their situations.
I have spent the last year trying to traverse this path. Along the way, I have had to give up myself until I could get them to cooperate with their care.
It has been tough. This month, I made homemade turkey soup with a turkey my daughter baked. It had organic potatoes, carrots, and celery in it. I returned and it was not touched. I returned the next time, and I said, "You aren't eating the soup I brought!" My mom replied, "Yes, we had soup." Then I spied a 4-pack of chicken noodle soup on the counter in shrink wrap plastic, with a can torn out of it. I said, "Mom, you didn't eat the soup I brought." When that sank in, I told them, "You have to remember just one thing: look in the refrigerator. Remember only that. Just look in the frig and you'll have something to eat."
Then a few nights later, I brought a casserole for them and it was not eaten either. I offered to heat it up for them. Dad returned from the store with chips, dips, and ice cream, among other things, and that's what he ate for supper. He didn't want a casserole. I ended up putting it down the garbage disposal several days later amid his protests. He claimed to like it then; too bad he didn't when it was still edible. I decided that if they want to eat like college students, let them. I can't do anything more about that. I'll make meals from time to time but not make it a big deal.
One of my friends went through the same thing with her mother who nearly died from an aneurysm. A decade later, she's taking food to her mom and complaining that she doesn't eat it, but drives to a local diner known for its pies, and has a piece of pie instead. Her mom just spent a stint in a nursing home for a broken hip.
It's their choice, their lifestyle. We can't live their lives for them, and I want to preserve their personal freedoms as much as possible. That may mean more for them in the long run than rigid dietary guidelines. I just wish they'd listen to me. It's too bad they make poor choices. They stopped at a fast food restaurant after visiting the cardiologist - twice. They buy half-and-half by the quart for coffee and cereal. Junk food, you name it, they said they're old and have earned the right to eat how they want, and they're going to die anyway. Seems I remember they were eating like this for the last 30 years. Americans unwittingly playing the game started by big food corporations. Not thinking about what they're doing, just doing. At least they have Meals on Wheels for lunch.
Well, it's come to the point where they are finally getting help outside the family. I hope it turns out well. After all, the nurses haven't even met them yet. Once they start the homemaking, I think the hygiene care will follow. When I tell my mom to get in the shower, she says, "I'll feel better next week." I try to be tactful, but it usually falls on deaf ears. Last week, she was agreeable. That was a pleasant surprise not to push and pull for a change. She felt better afterwards.
Despite all this, they really are sweet people. I know this makes them sound awful, but they're really not. They're actually quite a lot of fun. It's just the business of life that they don't like. This is starting to sound like the role reversal from parent to child, child to parent.
Perhaps I will begin seeing more than a Remains of the Day to do things for myself, like my beloved bike riding and swimming and walking the dog, once some help starts rolling in. If it looks like things are really moving along and changing for the better permanently, I will change my Spark Page intro to reflect that.
Sorry this is long. If you read it, I give you a lot of credit!