I can’t believe Papa’s been gone for almost 6 months now. Most of the time I don’t feel as if he’s really gone, it’s more like he’s just with me in a different way. The unconditional love he gave me knows no death, and I feel his spirit all the time. I often think back to the times when I would kiss him on his forehead, he would lean into me smelling of old spice and syrup as I would take a deep breath through my nose and pause an extra second to soak in the moment so I could dog-ear it for the years to come. It makes my heart surged with pure love and bliss just thinking about it.
Thankfully I have videos of him as well, so when I’m missing him I’ll just look through my phone and watch a couple and it always lifts my spirits. I decided to make a montage of my favorite videos of him to share with you.
I’ve wanted to share the things we’d learned while caring for Papa in the hopes that it may help someone else going through a similar situation. Most of the things we tried, worked for a while and then they didn’t. It’s a trial and error situation and you have to keep adapting because their disease is constantly progressing making things more challenging.
Cut a hole in an old towel and use as bib.
ARROWS ON THE FLOOR
When pops could still understand directions we put electrical tape on the floor with arrows to help guide him to the restroom. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn’t.
REUSEABLE UNDER PADS
There will be a time when furniture needs to be covered, we tried the plastic covers and they worked for a while. Unfortunately they tear and aren’t comfortable for anyone, especially the elderly.
In the end we found that reusable underpads were the way to go. I’d recommend the standard light blue, it definately did the job and when we used the dark blue super waterproof they seemed to make him sweat, and not let his skin breath causing other problems.
Monitors will make life so much easier. In the beginning we had this fella (pictured below) given to us by a friend and then Mitch went all out getting a surveillance system 2 camera set up making life so much easier. It alerted us when he was moving, and him having horrible balance gave us just enough time to look at the monitor to see if he was standing up, or he would just be brushing his hair and was moving around. Either way, it was worth it a million times over. We still used the little guy shown here in the picture, we put it on the back of the bathroom toilet, so when he was able to take himself into the restroom we weren’t invading his space, but if he was standing and we didn’t see his face, we knew to run in and help.
LIGHTING UP THE TOILET BOWL
The motion activated toilet bowl night-light (bowl glow) worked wonderfully for us for a long time, long after he forgot what things were used for, he would still head straight for the light in the middle of the night.
We found that if there wasn’t anything for him to see, he was less likely to get wrapped up in it. At night we would take three room dividers and place them in a half circle pattern around his bed with only the portable potty with the toilet bowl night-light in the middle. It worked really well for us, most of the time.
TOOLS TO KEEP HIM OCCUPIED
TAKING THE BLAME
Having to see Dad struggle with the confusion and frustration of dementia was so hard, so any time he thought he was right about something, we just let him be right. The struggle is real! The best way to manage situations is to help them feel like they are making choices (giving two options worked best for us) and their feelings about certain things are justified. Also, know it’s ok to feel your own feelings, just give yourself a break from them during that time to remind yourself that it’s the disease, it’s not them. Sometimes they may hurt your feelings, be combative or even inappropriate and it’s in those times that you have a real opportunity to better yourself because of their disease. Taking time to separate yourself from them while you process your own emotions is vital! We went into each day with compassion for his situation, unconditional love and mindset of forgiveness of whatever transgressions are to come.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
I watched video’s, read books and search for insight online that reminded me that this isn’t just our journey, there are so many out there going through the same thing. Also, if you don’t have a group of people to rely on, get one, the sooner the better. This is definitely not a one person job, not even a two person, it takes a team and the sooner you can build that team the better. God Bless, and as sissy Annette says, “Do your best, and forget the rest.”