It was father’s day recently. Ella was lovely, with hand made cards and presents.
However over the last couple of weeks I’ve questioned whether putting my daughter and wife in the firing line with mum, means I am a good father/husband.
Now this blog post isn’t a self pitying, wow is me, friends send me lots of messages saying its ok, you are doing a good job, keep going etc but a true reflection of actually how difficult things have become and the reality of what I’m thinking.
Before I off load I have to say I know none of it is mums fault. Alzheimers changes you, mainly how you behave. Carers have to deal with it. We have to deal with it. Again, this blog is partially to help when (not if) any of our friends find themselves in a similar situation.
All of us deal with stuff. Work stuff, relationship stuff, baby/kid stuff or health stuff (yours or someone else’s). Thats life and we get on with it. We get depressed, we get upset, we get angry. We get home and off load to someone, the other half usually and if they are good, listens, reassures and tries to provide solutions.
So everyone reading this, remember that worst day. Picture getting home ready to explode at the smallest thing. Then you have to deal with someone that is has basically lost all the basic controls that an adult has, mentally and physically.
You have to get a cup of water coz its been left in the kitchen all day and its one of the hottest days of they year and dehydration makes mum even more confused. You say it again, “please remember your water”. “Are you wearing a pad, have you washed your hands, yes its Tuesday, no Ella isn’t swimming, yes I’m Tim, no the dog is not out with Derek, shes in her bed and if you opened your eyes you’d see her”!
So you are now more wound up. You then see a little smirk on her face and thats it you lose the plot. Is the smirk because she realises what shes being like. Is there still an element of being a pain that shes likes and because she can. You have to walk away but the frustration and anger is obvious to everyone around you.
Next you are having a shouting match with your ten year old daughter about nothing only to find out shes also really upset and struggling living with mum. Shes had to deal with finding mum trapped in the downstairs loo and not able to help. Shes been worrying that when shes on her school residential this week that something is going to happen and she won’t be at home after school to help mum. Thats when you really feel guilty.
How can you be a good father when you 10 year old is seeing stuff lots of adults don’t want to see or deal with. She should be having the time of her life having fun. Last term of school before secondary, SATs done and a week away from mum and dad on a school trip and shes worrying about her Nan. Yes its lovely that a 10 year old thinks like this and shes a tribute to how we’ve raised her, still doesn’t make it right.
How can you be a good husband when your wife is being the principle carer for your mum and has to deal with a load of other crap outside of home as well. As a bloke (sorry feminists out there I’m old school) its my job to protect my family, to provide and keep them safe. I’m not saying women can’t or don’t do that, its just the way my brain is wired.I still hold the door open, I like to pay for dinner and I walk on the outside of the path to stop Sonia or Ella being splashed by a car.
I don’t think I’ve experienced this many ranges of emotions in such a short space of time in my life. What makes it worse is, its not going to get better, its not going to get easier, only harder. The frequency of mum confusing me with my dad is slowly increasing. At some point we will have to make a decision about continuing to care for mum with everyone’s best interests at heart.
But what is the trigger point. How many more tears does it take, or shouting matches, or just the sense of depression hearing the same thing over and over again, trying to make mum do things differently. To wash her hands, remember to drink water or to stop making that shuffling noise across the floor because she cant walk very well.
I wonder if Alzheimers is one of the hardest conditions to care for (I know its not a competition). If mum was physically disabled you wouldn’t even think about trying to change her, or get frustrated coz she had an accident. Mum just looks old, still spends time at home alone, watching TV and takes herself to the loo, chats to people etc. There is nothing obviously wrong with her and maybe thats actually that hardest part for us.
Remembering she can’t remember, that her brain doesn’t work properly.
Ironic really, we have a memory problem that makes caring for someone with Alzheimers even harder. X