This blog was formerly dedicated in 2009 to my Dad who died of Alzheimer's in 2013. It's been three years now...and I find myself missing blogging...so I am re-inventing my blog... because, after all, life is about moving through, and going forward...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Being Grateful For the Time We Have...

Mom and my sister Holly went to visit Dad today.  They arrived to find Dad dressed and slumped over sleeping in his wheelchair...

Dad 8-3-13

His right eye was crusty but his skin looked much better than when Mom saw him last week. He needs a hair cut, a shave, eyebrow/ear and mustache trim but he was dressed nicely with his hair combed (I will call on Tuesday to make sure Dad sees the Barber on Wednesday ).  Dad has been uncooperative with the staff for showering and grooming.  Most of the time he wants to be left alone to sleep. Dad has been so tired and weak.  We are so grateful to see him dressed and not curled up in a fetal position in his bed.  He is very thin and gaunt as you can see.  

Dad kept his eyes closed and appeared very sleepy.  Mom and Holly attempted to share family news and visit, but Dad was not up to conversation.  He offered a faint "yes" or "no" but not much more.

They wheeled him outside on the front patio to enjoy the sun on his back.  He loves being outside and in the warmth of the sun but seemed to dose off most of the time sitting outside with them.  After about 15 minutes, he wanted to go inside, which was just about time for lunch. 

Holly wheeled Dad back to the lunch room, but had to park him to the side of the table rather than up to the table due to his cancerous growth on his foot.   Dad sat like he is in the picture above in between bites when Mom fed him.  Mom and Holly admired Dad's delicious smelling lunch of Chinese chicken with cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, hard Chinese crispy noodles, celery on a bed of rice, bread and butter, a banana, ice cream, milk and coffee. They both noticed Dad's chewing was slower as if he barely had the energy to eat.  He ate most of the chicken, ice cream of course, some of the banana and a bite or two of his bread.  He coughed and choked as he drank his milk and coffee through a straw.

Mom asked his caregiver to please make sure and offer Dad water to drink because Dad will not ask for it himself...but we are starting to see the coughing and choking may be another sign of the ladder stages of Alzheimer's, when he will forget or become too weak to eat or swallow. Drinking and coordinating swallowing while drinking is a common, every day occurrence we take for granted, yet is becoming an  exhausting ordeal for Dad.

My sister had a very difficult time, crying softly.  We all have shared how emotionally draining and sad our visits with Dad are now.  Mom is the pillar of strength for all of us.  We all are stronger when we gather together.

Both Mom and my sister apologized in their emails to us for the depressing report of their visit; but we all have noticed how Dad is fading away.  He gets weaker each time we see him.

Dad's Hospice CNA cares so much for Dad.  He is the one we all hugged on Father's Day when he told us he saves Dad for the weekend after a difficult week because Dad is such a joy and such a sweet gentleman.

In talking with Mom, the Hospice CNA was so relieved our family is all on the same page as far as not forcing food on Dad when he no longer wants to eat.  Mom shared how Barbara Karnes has helped her and our family deal with the ravages of this disease and prepare for the final stages of it...

He told her how good it was to hear because so many families force feed out of ignorance or guilt and don't seek out help or educate themselves for an easier transition for themselves and the loved one...

He told Mom he was amazed how Dad has all the cancers Dad has and never complains of any pain. He assured Mom Hospice will never allow Dad to feel any pain.  We also know the nursing home keeps a protective eye on Dad as well.

We all feel Dad is shutting down and cling to any positives we can share at this point....  We all know time is of the essence to take the time we need with Dad because we doubt he will make it to his 93rd birthday in November.

Tomorrow Mom and Dad will be married sixty-eight years...

6 comments:

Mari said...

Happy Anniversary to your sweet parents. I'm sure this is a bittersweet day for your Mom, but 68 years is really amazing.
Your Dad is looking very thin as you said, but I'm glad none of you are pushing him to eat. I',m so glad they are watching him to keep him comfortable.

mickeydee said...

I'm so sorry. It gets harder and harder to see your loved ones like this. Your family is in my prayers.....sending hugs......dianne

John Gray said...

An incredibly moving piece of writing x

kaykuala said...

Such a moving and such a dramatic round of revelation again. There's so much being shared here that those not having had experiences with dementia might not know. It tugs at my emotions again. My MIL was in such a situation and it put lots of challenge and patience on us. She slowly drifted away and we felt sorry to see life was just declining. She passed on in Jan this year at 88 years. Thanks for sharing Donna!

Hank

Linda O'Connell said...

Donna, your pain and yet your understanding is evident and you are in my prayers.

The way it was explained to us is, when they get to a point when the natural part of life is to transition out of this world,it is best not to disturb them by force feeding or doctoring or forcing them to sit up. It is a very sad time, I know. Hugs.

Donna B. said...

Thank you everyone for your kindness and support, it means more than you realize. I share our story to help others and to have a record for us to keep. Hugs to all of you.