Last week was one of the toughest weeks I’ve had in a very long time. My aneixty and stress levels hit an all time high. My parents are elderly (83 and 94) when I got a call at 6 am one morning saying from a stranger saying they found my dad wondering the streets and he was confused and lost, if I could come get him. All the emotions imaginable came flooding while we went to get my dad.
Just a few days before, my mom mentioned that my dad didn’t seem to remember her for most of the day, but would sporadically remember who she was. She called a doctor and the doctor arranged a brain scan and tests for November – might as well seem like a life time away before a diagnosis was even possible.
When we picked up my dad, we asked him what he was doing out so early. He said he had to get away from the stranger in the house. I was numb, how could he forget my mom so quickly and how did things escalate this fast. He proceeded to tell us that my mom was an imposter, the 3rd one they sent and he just wanted to make his way to see me at my house. We asked if he was ok to go home, he said yes, we dropped him off and my mom was beside herself, but didn’t want to alarm us by calling so early. We asked if he was ok to stay at the house with my mom (the imposter ) and he said yes. All of a sudden I had to figure out how to get test dates moved up, do I have to put him in a home if he kept wandering from the house, how my mom was dealing with all this, a gazillion things going through my mind, with little warning how can this cruel disease of dementia or Alzhiemiers take over my parents lives. How can God be so cruel to a man (who is extremely religious) who endured so much in his life, that this was the way he would spend his last days – slowly forgetting who all of us were. Do we put locks on the doors to prevent wanderings, will he get violent with my mom if he thinks she’s an intruder, how fast do I need to find a home to put him – crazy thoughts going through mind. My sister was little help – she said lets not rush – her father-in-law had Alzhiemer’s and she didn’t think my dad fit any of the criteria. I think she is just not acknowledging that this could be happening.
I have been in contact with a memory clinic here in Toronto, had a lovely conversation with one of the ladies, she told me that since the memory loss seemed so quick that blood work should be done to rule out any other medical issues – such as hypothyroidism, bladder infection, depression and vitamin deficiency. Once I got off the phone with her, I called my dads doctor again, I was explained the situation to the secretary and I was able to get an appointment (phone call) with the doctor for early next week. I was also told that if he gets confused again we should just go to the emergency so that he can be diagnosed there, honestly this never even entered my mind last week. We were so focused on what happened and what was happening, in hind site we should have gone immediately to the emergency department and got the tests done. We did start him on vitamin B12, last thursday or friday and I’m not sure if it’s wishful thinking, but he seems to be getting better daily. Today was a good day and he remembered my mom all day, again not sure if this is a one off or if it will continue. I check in daily to see what is going on, today he seemed to be more engaged and spoke about current events in the news, not so much about what happened 50 yrs ago, his eyes had more life to them, and his smile was back. Again, I don’t want to get my hopes up too high in case it is early on set dementia. We will figure things out in the next few weeks I hope and go from there. He knows something is off and totally remembers wandering off , and everything that has happened.
I’m extremely lucky to still have both my parents and with no health issues until now. They live independently and don’t really need us. We don’t really know if he has Alzheimer’s or if it’s something else until tests are run and we get the results. I’m trying to be positive but I am bracing for the fact that my dad might have the start of Alzheimer’s, only time will tell.
If anyone has any advice or has gone through this, I’d love to hear how you coped ?? I’m having feelings of guilt that maybe we saw signs but ignored them.