My dad passed away last Thursday. Dad was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. The hardest part was watching him get confused, angry, irritable, paranoid, and when my mom told me she heard him crying saying, “What’s happening to me?” He knew his mind was not right and he could do nothing about it. Eventually, and he did not open his eyes much, and he had to be spoon-fed pureed foods and encouraged to drink liquids. He did have a good spell about a month ago… but you could tell he sometimes had a hard time finding the words he wanted to say. That last time we saw him, he was asking to go out to a restaurant for lunch, or go for a picnic outside. I thought he was making a turn for the better.
The nursing staff thinks he had a stroke on Thursday morning last week and when they could see he might not survive very late into the day, they called me & my sister and we called the rest of my family and we stayed with him all afternoon/evening. He was unable to speak, and I don’t know if he could see me (his eyes were sometimes open on that last day, but they did not seem able to focus). When the nurse said she was going to wash him up and maybe we should get a bite to eat, we left only to get a phone call before we sat down at the restaurant. The nurse told us to get back there asap. He may have passed away before we all got a chance to say “Goodbye.” When I told him I loved him, it seemed like there was just oxygen coming out of the tube… he did not seem to be breathing anymore. I am thankful that I was able to sit right next to him, very close to him all afternoon long, and I held his hand and talked to him about the family members there who came to visit him, and about the rosary that the nurse put into his hand (it was blessed by the Pope). There was a chaplain who gave him his last rites before I got there, and the chaplain returned after my dad passed away, to say a bible passage for the family.
It was so sad to see him suffer. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life. I wish I could have cared for him myself, since it was difficult to leave him every time I visited. The hardest day of my life was either the day my dad died, or the day I first moved him into the first nursing home (of two). That was also extremely difficult, because my dad knew he did not want to move there, but he knew he had to. I told my family I’d be willing to take care of my parents, but my brother and sisters talked me out of it… they said it would be too difficult for me emotionally and for my own sanity, and I’m sure they were right. Thank goodness his first move into the nursing home was into the facility where my mom was, and the staff was able to get them into a room together after about 30 days. At least he was not being moved into some place with nothing but strangers. That happened later… also a very difficult & sad day for me.
Well, I can say that these last 2 1/2 years of my life have been difficult, but also I am really glad I was able to help out. My dad’s care was of the highest level, especially at this last facility he was living in. He lived there for about 9 months, and they were awesome. (The first nursing home my parents lived in was not so great, but I was there as an advocate for every issue that had to be dealt with… getting the heat turned up, getting my mom’s medication when they seemed to “run out”… it was pretty pathetic and I was sooooo glad when we were ale to move them outta there.)
Anyhow, I am very sad because my dad went through some suffering, and no one deserves to go through the pain that one goes through with Alzheimer’s. My mom witnessed a lot of it, and I am sad that she suffered as well. I guess you could say that Dad is now in a better place, but that does not make it all go away. It makes me want to do something to help other families who deal with the disease. I joined the Memory Walk… there is one in Milwaukee on Oct. 2nd. I have a page of my own as a person doing the Walk: http://Memorywalk2010.kintera.org/milwaukee/annieb
If you want to donate, that would be appreciated by myself, my family, and others who are dealing with, or have dealt with, the disease. I just think it’s a tragedy and I wish there was more I could do. If I could just get all of my 908 Facebook friends to donate $5 apiece, I could raise $4,540 towards Alzheimer’s research!
I guess you don’t know what a tragedy it is until you know someone DIRECTLY affected by it. I am doing okay, for right now. I might start crying again later on or tomorrow, or maybe in a few days but it comes & goes.