Thursday, October 21, 2010

Alzheimer's Association to the Rescue

The Alzheimer's Association must know that desperate dead ends happen at all hours, because they have a 24-hour hotline. I found myself calling it Tuesday night. Lamar, my hotline responder, listened to our situation and affirmed my suspicion that Dad has become depressed being around significantly lower-functioning people. Furthermore, he guessed Dad's despair might be worsened by a sense that this is what his family thinks he's like and/or this is where he's headed. Lamar urged "Get him out of there!!!" with three exclamation points in his voice. I called my mom immediately to reassure her she was doing the right thing to stop taking Dad to this particular day care center.

That still leaves us with the question of how to give Mom more respite from 24-hour caregiving. And again, it was the Alzheimer's Association to the rescue. Jessica from my state office of the AA called me the next day and promptly e-mailed me a list of other adult day care centers in nearby suburbs. Plus, the AA has other services that may help us.

Both Lamar and Jessica instructed that it's critical that family members ask good questions and tour a facility before taking a loved one there. We thought we had done that with the place Dad was going to, but what we didn't realize was how important the question, "How do you handle different levels of functioning?" is. Now we know.

When Mom picked Dad up from day care Tuesday, he exclaimed, "I'm out of prison!" Then she told him he would not have to go back there. Wednesday when I visited, Dad was more chipper than I've seen him for six weeks, interested in reading the paper, listening to his favorite music, conversing, making his signature puns. I've lost enough of my dad; I was so happy to have his sweet contentment and even optimism back.

I'm researching other options for my mom and am praying about whether to go there more often myself. I know people in my church were praying for me and my parents this week. I'm grateful for this, for God's tender compassion this week, and for the Alzheimer's Association, too. I pray for continued strength for my mom until we can find a new situation that Dad enjoys.

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