At Assisting Hands Home Care, we consider it an honor and a privilege to serve families in need of in-home care. We help fill the gap between living at home and living in a facility by providing quality, compassionate home health care for seniors, those recovering from medical procedures, or those who have long-term care needs.
The below blog offers a peek into the daily concerns that weigh on the minds of those who have loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Read the opening message from our National Director of Franchise Operations, Shana Kolman, and the personal blog post of her friend. All information and images in this blog are used with the express permission of the author.
Note from Shana Kolman-
A friend of mine is struggling with her father who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and is rapidly declining. She calls and texts often in the evenings to share with me and vent about her frustration and sadness and always apologizes for it. I always shoot down the apology and express my sincere empathy for what they are going through and gratitude that she allows me to be there for her in whatever supportive way I can. Because that, as you all know, is so necessary for the afflicted and their loved ones.
She sent this blog to me this morning and it brought tears to my eyes and reminded me once again how very, very important it is that we do what we do everyday for our clients and their loved ones.
Shana A.G. Kolman, CSA
National Director of Franchise Operations
Assisting Hands® Home Care, LLC
What it’s like caring for a parent who is dying of Alzheimer’s disease
Read the full blog here.
I show up to my parents’ house to stay with my dad while my mom has her monthly support group meeting. She meets me at the door. “You just missed the biggest mess ever. You’re going to need to help your dad finish getting dressed. Don’t worry, he’s decent. I left him putting on his socks.” I go into the bedroom. My dad is on the edge of the bed with one sock on and no pants. “Where’s your other sock?” He stares blankly. “Can’t be too far.” We look around, see no evidence of the missing sock. “Maybe they’re both on the same foot!” Sure enough, he put one sock right over the other. I take it off and put it on the other foot, then I put his feet through his pant legs. “Okay, you gotta stand up so we can get your pants on.” My dad slowly rises and pulls his pants up to his waist. I wait for a moment to see if he can manage the button and zipper, then I do it for him. It’s like dressing one of my children when they were toddlers, except it’s my father. I swallow the lump in my throat, put a smile on my face and lead him to the living room.
We watch TV for a little while, the only activity my dad is able to do, then I tell him we are going to go on an adventure to the bank and Starbucks. I find his shoes and slip them on his feet and tell him it’s time to go. He looks at me blankly and doesn’t move. “Okay, we’re going to head to the bank and then go get a treat at Starbucks!” I say brightly. Still nothing. Finally I give his hands a tug and he stands up. “It’s not that cold out so you don’t need a big coat, but we’ll get you a jacket.” I put my dad’s arms into his jacket; he is only slightly more helpful than a mannequin would be, but I get him covered.
We head out to my car and I narrate along the way to fill the silence. “Oh, look! The cherry trees are just starting to bloom. There goes another dump truck to that area they are clearing.” I open the door and my dad slowly, awkwardly folds himself into the car seat. I lean over and do his seatbelt for him. A month ago, he was able to do the seatbelt himself; now it is beyond him. I provide a commentary as we drive to town. My dad never says a word.
We arrive at the bank and I get him settled in a chair. When my name is called, the bank employee sees me getting my dad and gets an extra chair ready for him at the desk. In the few minutes we are there, my dad falls asleep sitting up. When I am done, I joke, “Uh oh, I bored you to sleep! Ready to go to Starbucks?” The bank employee laughs and comments my dad can clearly use a caffeinated pick-me-up. I smile at his joke, knowing there is no drink, no food, no anything that will help my dad anymore.
I carefully, slowly walk my dad back to the car and buckle him in again. We arrive at the coffee shop and I hold his arm as we walk, reminding him to step up here, step down there. He doesn’t see curbs anymore and I am always so afraid he is going to fall. At one point he stumbles but catches himself. He says, in his familiar voice, “I have a bad habit of forgetting to pick my feet up.” It’s the first time he’s spoken to me all day.
We get inside Starbucks and I list off his food and drink choices. “There’s cookies, donuts, or maybe you’d rather have a milkshake.” He doesn’t respond. I try again. He opens his mouth and tries to speak but the words won’t come. I rescue him. “How about I surprise you?” I order our drinks.
We sit quietly, my dad contentedly sipping his Frappuccino. I fill the silence with more commentary. I am struck by the fact that my father is now so much like my child. I dress him, chatter to him, drag him on errands then reward him with a treat. And I don’t mind. He spent half of his life caring for me. It is the least I can do.