Team Greiss

Lessons Learned is a unique blog series written by caregivers who have stories to tell and knowledge to share. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia poses special challenges. Fortunately, we are not alone. Let this blog series be a source of comfort and learning.

My first clue that my father??????s cognitive abilities were slipping came as an eerie, but uncategorized, shock. We traveled together to his brother in law??????s funeral in Atlanta, just he and I. For the first time in my entire life, my father asked me to take the reins. I drove the rental car, navigated all the details of our trip, made sure he showed up on time to the various events, etc. Throughout the weekend, I knew this new dynamic in our relationship marked a paradigm shift ?????? my father had ALWAYS been in charge – but I didn??????t connect the dots; even though we were burying the husband of his sister ?????? a woman who suffered from Alzheimer??????s Disease for many years. Looking back now, of course I recognize the signs. This was simply foreshadowing of a tremendous shift yet to come.

Fast forward the movie many years, my father and his three children have now completely reversed roles. We are his ??????parents,?????? completely responsible for every decision in his life. He ?????? no, we ?????? are all lucky. We have a village. ??????Team Greiss.?????? My brother, my sister and myself share the multitude of duties and decisions to ensure that my dad is??????.as good as he can be. It is an honor. It is a horror. I thank goodness every day that I get to have a team, because I know others who have to do this alone and I can barely imagine that scenario. My siblings and I mostly agree ?????? though sometimes not ?????? but we have pulled together and navigate this nightmare in a manner that would, I believe, make our parents proud. My father ?????? even throughout his most demented moments ?????? continues to vocalize how lucky he is to have kids that care. He also remembers Hebrew. His family and his spirituality are still with him, somewhere, somehow.

For a long time, I dug my head in the sand. Didn??????t want to read the research. Didn??????t really want to get educated. Still don??????t for some reason, though I do my ??????jobs?????? with complete diligence and learn everything I need. I guess I??????m ??????getting through?????? as best I can and my senses can only take so much. I??????ve been advised to make time for ??????self-care?????? though that always seems to be last on my list. Who has time? This journey truly takes a village. And if I didn??????t have the blessing of my ??????Team Greiss,?????? I would????? get cracking and cobble one together ASAP. Besides the sorrow for my father, the nagging fear never goes away. Will this happen to me? Will this happen to my children? My siblings? Who??????s next? I will be more prepared if there??????s a next time. But it will be just as painful.

-Written by Jennifer Greenberg

AlzTex Admin

The Alzheimer's Association Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter (www.alz.org/texas) consists of families, caregivers, scientists, health professionals, and concerned citizens who are committed to finding a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and to easing the burden of Alzheimer's Disease and related disorders on patients and their families and loved ones.