Alzheimer's Calls for Sweet Surrender
With so much I cannot do, what is it I can do?
By Julie Hall, The Estate Lady
It was an inside job, all the turmoil and turbulence I felt regarding dad, his care, and his Alzheimer’s. Sometimes you just don’t know what you are feeling. There are days I’m not sure I can handle what’s coming with him, and other days I feel like I can conquer the world. The last couple of weeks have felt like a hell-hole, but now I suddenly and inexplicably feel very calm. What contributed to this is found at the end of this blog.
Here’s a sample of our week:
Dad told me the “suits came to his place and that he was going to be fired on Monday.” He said his doorstop was moving back and forth at night. He accused his waiter of not serving him dinner, when in reality, he had just eaten moments before. He lost his hearing aids again, which I found; an hour later he forgot where they were … they were in his ears. He accused my dear sibling of stealing from him (which completely shattered our hearts). He threatened to leave and “go home.” He demanded an obscene amount of money in cash to be kept in his room, because it’s “his money.” It goes on and on …
Two cousins came to visit dad over the weekend and he was very lucid for their visit; by the time they left, he was in a fog again. No one understands it, until they witness it themselves. One day he is “on” and the next day he is “off.” Way off.
I am not sure if it was my cousins’ visit, as they have a calming presence and great energy, but I suddenly realized that no matter what I do for dad (and I feel I do a great deal), I can’t solve this problem. I can’t help him through the disease, other than working with the doctors and the staff to make him as comfortable as possible. I can’t make it go away. I can’t even make his days better for him. I can’t spend my days wondering if he’s ok, because he isn’t. I can’t be logical about this, because there is no logic with Alzheimer’s. And I can’t spin my wheels pondering if he knows that Alzheimer’s is gripping him. I heard the doctors loud and clear; the medication holds the disease back a little bit, but ultimately the disease will win.
Since there’s so much I can’t do, what is it I can do?
- I can always have a smile on my face and be compassionate.
- I can recognize the disease is winning, even though I personally loathe defeat.
- I can reinforce within myself not to take anything he says personally.
- I can, and will, walk with him on this entire journey until he takes his final breath.
- I can be there for him, because he would never leave my side, if the shoe were on the other foot.
- I can push myself to the ultimate test of being patient — a virtue I do not easily possess but am learning.
- I can pray and rely on my faith.
- I can cry when I need to, understanding this is not weakness, but a healthy release.
- I can help others who are going through the same thing.
- I can heal myself so I can be healthy now and in the future.
- And with a tentative heart, I can sweetly surrender to his fate.
I did this recently, and ever since then, I have been granted a peace that I didn’t feel before.
First published on In The Trenches on September 4, 2012
Published September 5, 2012