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Posted by Gerri on December 23, 1999 at 15:49:28:

In Reply to: Re: Dad with Alzheimers posted by Bill on November 18, 1999 at 17:40:01:

: : Hi all, my father has Familial Alzheimers Disease (hereditary), and is at the point where he no longer speaks in sentences, interrupts constantly, exhibits much anger, and much of the time can't explain what he wants or needs. He is just awful to be around. And what hurts so much is that he was a wonderful father and a really likable person. My kids don't remember what he was like before this disease, and frankly, I have to consciously force myself to remember when he used to be my "Dad".
: : My mother is taking care of him, and is doing a great job, but I don't know how much longer she'll be able to handle him. I can see the strain on her.
: : I'd like to hear about other people's experiences. It would help.

: : Cathy

: Dear Cathy, my mother has had AD since 1985. You have my sympathy. I can only give you the following advice. If he can walk, watch out! My mother walked 20 miles in one night. Get a lawyer who specializes in elder affairs. Dad may need a nursing home some day and depending upon what state you're in your mother could lose her nest egg. Get a doctor who will care about him. Too many "write off" AD victims and don't do all they can to alleviate pain or other unpleasant symptoms. Start looking for a good nursing home now so that you will know what to do if the time comes. It's very hard to do under the gun. Get your mother some respite care either from pros or friends or relatives. Tell the kids stories about Dad so that they will have other memories of him. That is very important. Good luck to you and Mom.

I know what a strain it can be on a family. Seven years ago, I lost my grandfather to the illness. He also was showing anger, irritability, and every other symptom. He was fortunate enough to have a caring family. Like your own, we pitched in to help my grandmother. It's amazing to find the strength inside yourself and others at times like these. It is terribly difficult to watch your loved one go through the many phases. Continually forgetting more places and people. Losing sight of modesty and independence. You are doing the right thing by remembering how great he was. Always remember, though, how great he still is. I found the most diffult matter being when he forgot about me. But, I reminded him that i was his grandbaby and I loved him. Respecting your dad and showing him compassion, as well as your mom, will give you pride and strength when you need it most. And prayer, meditation, or however else you find peace, will do a great deal of good, also.

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