Monday, March 15, 2010

Losing My Mind - Geriatric Style - Alzheimers

*First a little reminder that my giveaway ends this week. Click on the crayon box titled "Giveaway" and check it out!

Sorry about that, I had to give you a reminder because around here, it seems as though nobody can remember anything. I know it comes with the territory of being elderly or "Gray" but sometimes I wonder if my own mind is going to remain intact. I am beginning to feel like I need to write down everything I say and pin it to everyone's shirt. After I have been asked for the 50th time what dinner is, you can unhook your note and read it for yourself. That would save us a lot of conversation.

Me "We are having spaghetti for dinner"
Gray (waits 5 minutes) "What are you cooking for dinner"
Me "Spaghetti"
Gray (waits 5 minutes) "The doctor said garlic and pasta are not good for me to eat" (The doctor did NOT say this)
Me (puts sauce on to cook)
Gray "That smells good, what are you cooking"
Me "Spaghetti"
Gray (waits 10 minutes) "You know what would be good to eat tonight? Spaghetti"
Me (considers the size of the pot and if it is possible to drown one's self in spaghetti sauce)
Gray (plate of spaghetti is place on the table) I didn't know we were having spaghetti...did you make garlic bread?
Me "I thought the doctor said you couldn't have garlic?"
Gray "I never said that! Garlic is wonderful for you!"

It's not just spaghetti though, it's everything that is said either by us, the kids, The Weather Channel, the doctor, etc. Like I said, I know part of it is just the territory of being a "Gray" and I do truly feel sorry for the elderly as they begin to lose their short term memory, especially when Alzheimer's begins to set it. It must be horrible when you are dealing with not being able to remember things from one minute to the next...but then again, can you remember that you can't remember what you were supposed to remember? Perhaps its a blissful state of mind where everything is fresh and new? I do know why we are always running out of toilet paper now...I mean, if you can't remember what you did 2 minutes ago.

The biggest frustration is with the BIG decisions, the things that really matter. Medical choices, financial choices and lifestyle choices. At what point do you decide that an elderly parent is no longer capable of making the best decision? How do you determine that they even understand their own choice? For instance when it is concerning the living arrangements of The Grays with us the choices change from not only day to day, but sometimes minute to minute. I feel a lot of the wishy-washy behavior of an elderly parent is due to insecurity and not wanting to be dependent on someone else. It's so frustrating as the ones who are having to consider long term to feel like we are forcing a lifestyle choice on someone who may or may not be ready. It makes you question yourself while you are questioning the elderly parent. "Do you really understand what is going on?" "Do you understand the long term implications?" "Do you  know what I said 5 minutes ago?"

For those of you out there who have dealt with this...what helped you with making decisions as a caretaker with your elderly parent? What happened that made you realize without a doubt that you needed to takeover all major decisions?

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