Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease. I have watched from the sidelines as my father’s health declines from this disease – both his mental stability as well as his physical well-being. Five years into the disease, my dad has lost his dignity and his independence; now I am his parent.
In the beginning stages, I know that dad recognized that his mind was not working correctly. He was constantly frustrated and angry with himself; we tried to help but really didn’t know how. It started that he would forget simple things and get mad at himself. Months later, I would find him at home crying because there were so many more things he couldn’t remember.
The transition with Dad started when my brother took over his finances. As time went on, we had to sell his home and his things and move him to a nursing home. When he would forget to turn his car off, frequently get lost and not recall where he was heading, we decided we needed to take his car away before he hurt himself or someone else. Next, he stopped working and I completely took over his insurance practice. His mind plays tricks on him and takes him to years ago and places he’s never been. Today, he has a nurse and his kids who help him with everything from eating to getting dressed, and from changing the channel on the TV to reminding him it’s his birthday.
The hardest thing I have yet to bare with my dad is to be his parent. No matter how old I get, there is a part of me that still wants to be the daughter and my dad be my daddyskins. But he took care of me and now I take care of him. The lesson learned here, is that it all comes full circle and it’s important to remain patient, not lose sight of the parent he once was, and continue his legacy as a caregiver… just with the roles now a little reversed.
-Written by Lori Herzog