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Alzheimer’s is indeed the “Longest Goodbye”. My Dad was diagnosed 7 years ago at the age of 83…we knew something was not right but figured it was just getting older.
Signs 10 years prior were vague but truly something we wished we had knowledge of at the time – extensive spending, worries of being robbed, worries of house catching fire, misplacing things, change to normal activities.
Prior to diagnosis repeated wonderful stories, remembered lots of childhood memories, repeated activities & chores. The final symptom was he driven to the corner store & became lost.
We immediately made Dr appointments to find what was wrong – After numerous tests…reality hit all of us!
During the last few years we learnt to go into his world, listened attentively to his wonderful memories, laugh at the quirky things he would say & do, worked with mind exercising activities (break down a flashlight & ask him to fix it, etc).
When he became very difficult to care for we placed him in a Rehab center…a must is to be active taking part in daily care, keep an eye out for proper care, no bruising or injuries & staff that answers questions & is supportive of you too.
Everyday for that final year I did lunch with him, stopped in after work in the later evening to be sure he was clean, comfortable & content. We would have coffee & share a pastry & chat about everything from his childhood to assuring him Mom was ok.
The final days were so contenting for he knew us & made sure to give us lots of words of wisdom & say goodbye.
I began studying signs of impending death & closely monitored him – 6 weeks prior – intense taste, foods were so delicious to him. 3 weeks prior – appetite slowed down & eyes glistened. 1 week prior – began saying goodbyes, it seemed the Alzheimer’s went away…he was very focused as he finished business, started seeing deceased family & friends. Last sign would be the mottling (hours to final moment)…
The morning staff called notifying me the last sign began, he gently sipped coffee with me & was so relaxed & content. No pain, held our hands, spoke comforting & we knew he knew it was ok.
He passed of “Natural Causes” & it was a very comforting moment, he knew us to the end…he beat the horrible end that Alzheimer’s could bring.
I miss him intensely, but know I was a big part in his life & treatment. I learnt so much about life & death & how to cope as a family member touched by such a horrible illness.
Best advice…go into their world, don’t argue or get frustrated, enjoy the quirky things & most of all laugh & love them…#alzheimers
Please share your thoughts or stories.