Jeanie is a caregiver to her father who has Alzheimer’s. Here is her story that she shared with the Alzheimer’s Association:
Every person is different; every case of Alzheimer’s is different too. My dad is 86, and received his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s last fall. He spent three weeks in a hospital in Atlanta after he broke down my mother’s door and held a gun.
He had moved out, and again forgotten, and returned home. He had slapped Mom before he left, and she was afraid to let him in. I advised her to dial 911 if he did, and he did, and she did. The police (not knowing yet of his diagnosis) arrested him and sent him to the hospital for evaluation.
The twist to this story is that for 27 years, he has had an affair with another woman. She was married, as was he. He belonged to a local veterans club and she met him there. They took trips together, had mutual couple friends, and basically had a life together. He owned a small cabin in a nearby state where they spent a lot of their time together. We were all aware of this through the years, and my mother chose to ignore it. Now at 86 and 87, it was no longer a concern for her.
Once he was dismissed from the hospital and returned home, my mom cared for him. I hired a lady to help during the weekday, and I am home on weekends. At first we allowed “the other woman” to come to the house, pick him up, and go to the club with him. She was even calling me on my cell phone, advising regarding his care, which did not go over very well. We felt that this would work out better for him, give my mom some time off, and appease him. He could no longer drive, and was very bitter and upset with me over that decision. So he had no way to get to the club. He was used to going every day, even on holidays. This was like caging an animal, maybe worse.
I had power of attorney, and chose to sell his cabin in the other state. I put the money in savings for his future care if needed. Once his “other woman” discovered this, it was a major battle. Seems she was thinking half of this money would go to her, and she was planning on purchasing a new home. A discussion between me and her happened, ending the trips together to the club. So now I pay someone to drive him there, sit with him, and drive him home.
She has lost her interest in him, only talking to him when he is at the club and when a club member calls her on the phone for him. It seems he has forgotten her, and wants to go home from time to time. At first, all he did was cry, maybe not knowing why he felt as he did. He is now on anti-depressants, which help.
He wanders at night. Yesterday, he walked next door thinking he lived there. I guess the hardest part is knowing that he can no longer come and go as he pleases something he always did. He just lays on his recliner on the back porch watching nature. He naps in the day and prowls at night.
My 87-year-old mother is the saint; she cares for him, and loves him. Sad to say but now, after all these years, she has him back. True, he isn’t the man he was, but in a way that is good. He is sweet to her, holds her hand and tells her he loves her; something that was reserved for the other woman for 27 years.
In the end, it is home he came back to. He may not recognize it as such, but in his heart, he has come back to the place he knew, to the woman he never stopped loving and never stopped loving him. For better or worse has taken on a whole new meaning.