Faith is no longer, nor has been for a very long time, enough to get me through the day. Faith, to me, is an optimistic lie you tell yourself to feel better about something that you desperately need to be true; having faith means you know what you are telling yourself can not be proven. Otherwise, we would not need faith.. we would just know. I realize that faith is a wonderful tool for many people, but I need fact. I need proof. I need a sign that what I am believing is real. My mind identifies faith as a coping mechanism; my mind also needs to deal with life as it is, not what I tell myself it is. My mother tells me that faith grows stronger with age, and I do desperately hope that is true for me. My mind has always questioned what I have been told and sought to find answers that make sense to me. I am not certain that I will ever find the answers that I am looking for, but I will never stop trying.
My father passed away on December 1, 2015 at 1:38pm only a moment after I had read “My sweet father,” aloud; my mother was holding his left hand, and I was holding his right. He went peacefully with the two people who meant the most to him, his “girls.”
Over a week later.. This still isn’t real. I built a very strong emotional wall while caring for my father the last month and a half of his life; I had to focus 100% on his needs and had no time or energy to deal with my emotions on the matter. That wall is refusing to come down. Saying “your father is dead” is no different than saying “the sky is purple;” it isn’t real. I don’t believe you. My dad can’t be dead, because I’m only 24. I need him. He has to give the guy of my dreams permission to ask my hand in marriage. He has to walk me down the isle. He has to see me graduate from college. He has to see me be successful. He has to remind me to rotate my tires and change fluids that I don’t even know exist. He has to meet his future grandchild. He has to tell me that he loves me and that he’s proud of me. He has to fuss at me for being stubborn. He has to tell me not to get anymore tattoos. He has too much left to do.. He can’t be gone.
I need you, daddy.
I’m going to keep an online journal of my care-giving experience with my father in hopes of helping someone else going through the same experience. I am 24 years old and an only child. My mother and father have been together for over 30 years. My father is now 78 and my mother is 53. I have recently moved back in with them to help my mother with the task of caring for my deteriorating father.
My dad has chronic worsening dementia; he is also handicapped. He spends his days in a hospital bed in the living room. He enjoys watching TV, specifically Blue Bloods, Law & Order: SVU, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Walker Texas Ranger, and In the Heat of the Night. Most days, he sleeps the majority of the time; on his good days, he is awake and bright-eyed and enjoys laughing.
It has been less than a year since my dad was diagnosed with dementia; I’m still trying to understand why and how the disease has progressed so quickly in him. Two years ago, he was the same dad that I’ve always known. Somewhere between then and now, everything has changed. It started with several trips to the ER, numerous trips to his family doctor, and researching things at home- my mom and I knew something was happening, but we had no idea it was dementia. Not long after, he was too much to handle; he became crazed, confused, and violent; he was diagnosed with dementia and was put in the geriatric psych unit at a local hospital. From there, doctors and nurses worked with him during his waking hours, medications got regulated, and physical and mental therapy got started. After two weeks, he was sent to a nursing home for rehabilitation. My mom and I wanted to do everything possible to get him to be able to come back home. A couple months later, we were bringing him home. During his stay in the nursing home, the house was remodeled to be handicap accessible and I moved back in.
My dad has been home for about 3 months. He started off being able to walk (using his walker, of course), go to the bathroom, go to the kitchen table to eat, etc. As of today, he is bed ridden. I change his diapers, bathe him, feed him, and tend to his every need. This disease is the most quickly deteriorating illness that I have ever seen. When I wake up every morning, I’m unsure of how he will be. Sometimes, for days at a time, he can barely keep his eyes open; he will barely eat or drink. Other days, he is awake and happy and has the appetite of a hungry school boy. Communication is a constant issue, but again, some days are better than others.
Being his care-giver has taught me a lot. If you or anyone else you know is in a similar situation, remember that the most important thing is patience. Never yell or raise your voice. Never get in a hurry. Never ask “why.” Never talk quickly. Never ask open-ended or complicated questions. Never argue. Never debate. Do one thing at a time, and if possible, allow your loved one to know what you’re doing. While giving a bath, let him or her know exactly what you’re doing. Make a joke or smile at them so they that what is happening isn’t so bad. Their mood and reaction is based a lot on the emotion that the care-giver is emitting. If the care-giver is upset or tense, that is going to be sensed and transferred. Often, depending on the person being cared for, things can get frustrating; just walk away and take a deep breath. The person with dementia doesn’t want this anymore than anyone else does, so be patient and be kind, as you would with a child.
I plan to update this several times a week. If you or anyone you know is going through this, please, share this with them. It’s nice to know that you aren’t alone and that there are ways to handle going through this. I’ll also gladly talk with anyone that needs help or a shoulder to lean on.
I’ll be updating soon. Thank you.
As of recent, my life has took a turn towards my worst fear: my father getting old and sick.
I am twenty-three years old; my parents have been together for over thirty years. My mother is twenty-five years younger than my dad; my mom is fifty-three and my dad is seventy-eight. Growing up, my dad was not young and playful like all of the other dads I saw with my friends. He was in the prime of his business career, busy working in the garage, always running about- things any healthy fifty-something-year-old would enjoy doing. Up until less than a year ago, my father has had no significant health issues; he was still active, his mind was sharp. Then, all of the sudden.. things changed. Things changed drastically. My mother and I, scared and confused, avoided showing any fear. My father, for a long time, denied anything was wrong. The reality of the situation was obvious to everyone except for him.
My worst fear, as a child and as an adult, was this happening. It was seeing my dad go downhill. It was seeing him using a cane or a walker. It was seeing him forget how to form sentences. It was seeing him forget things that he has always known. It was seeing him forget how to add up money to pay the cashier. It was seeing him lose the ability to drive. It was seeing him in diapers. It was seeing him old.
I am reaching out for help. Tons of adults face going through this with one or both of their parents, just not at my age. In the beginning of my adult life, trying to figure out who I am and make my place in the world, I just cannot seem to grasp what is happening. I need more time to pass before I can deal with this, but sadly, I do not have time on my side. Anyone, regardless of age (although it would be nice to communicate with someone around my age about this), please.. let me know how to cope. Give me tips on how to process this. Help me accept this as reality. Any kind words, stories, advice, prayers, thoughts, etc. are more than welcome.