Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Alzheimer's - A New Experience

I haven't been on this blog in a long time and I'm pretty sure that's not the first time I've said that. With the changes that have taken place in my family's life in recent months, however, my sister suggested it might be a good idea to start writing again. That it might be therapeutic even - for me and perhaps others out there in the blogosphere. So here I am.

Six months ago, my husband's parents came to live with us. We moved them here from Europe due to health issues and the lack of help available to them where they were. My Mother-In-Law (MIL) is wheelchair bound and requires some help here and there, mostly with transferring; my Father-in-Law (FIL) is in mid-late stage Alzheimer's. My MIL speaks English fairly well but my FIL has lost it completely. He's reverted back to his original language. He used to speak English perfectly but now even his native language is understandable only 10% of the time and I don't speak that at all.

Where do I even begin with this tale? Life has become a challenge none of us saw coming, though in retrospect, there were signs, hints and glimpses if any one of us had been of a mind to decipher them. We weren't and we didn't. Even when it became apparent, denial has a way of proving itself a force to contend with. It's amazing how much he's deteriorated in such a short amount of time. I'm sure the move had something to do with that. It's hard on every single one of us. We'd had hopes of how things might be when they came here. No doubt they did too. Visions of going out to eat, to church, to school functions, etc. have not quite played out as envisioned. Disappointment sets in but that's life and we all do what we can to help, to keep things as normal as possible and to remember to have fun in spite of the challenges. But it's hard. Did I say that already?

Even though my FIL is in the mid-late stages of the disease, we're only beginning to wade through the confusion of how best to help him - where to go, who to talk to, etc. Some of my MIL's health issues have had to take precedence out of urgency or necessity so it's taking precious time to get his diagnosis, a treatment plan and to determine the best route to take for his care. They've been so dependent on each other for so long but the worse he gets, the more that dynamic changes. It's a worry and a stress on everybody both directly or indirectly. Tears come from time to time, at least for my MIL and me. For me, the tears are more of a pressure release. For her it's that but it's also grief over what she's lost and currently losing. I think Nancy Reagan said it best when she called it The Long Goodbye.

Because this is so new to my family and me, if you have in the past or are currently dealing with Alzheimer's, I would certainly welcome your comments and advice on what helped you and your loved one(s) to cope.

Thank you!