Thursday, August 29, 2013

Semper Fi: Always Faithful

In my last post, I relayed a cute story about Dad, who wanted us to be ready to "get away" -- just in case we should ever decide we want to go.

Oh, Dad, I want to go now.

There are times, often just minutes, sometimes days, where I am so tired I can barely move. Not physically tired, though there is some of that, too, but mentally tired, so brain-weary from stress and heartache and saying the daily goodbyes that I want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and never leave.

Get away? Oh, Dad, I wish we could. Is there somewhere to go where Alzheimer's Disease doesn't shatter lives, where family love isn't strained by the stress of caregiving, where hearts don't skip a beat (or three) every time the phone rings, where feeling happy instead of anxious -- even for just a couple of days -- is no longer a dream, but a blessed reality? Because if there is, I would fight heaven and hell to get us there.

Sometimes, people ask me, "Why do you write such sad things for everybody to read?" And my answer is, "Because it matters."

What's happening to my father is sad. What's happening to millions of others with Alzheimer's is sad. And the fact that Alzheimer's Disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed* is more than sad -- it's terrifying.

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's Disease today. How many more families must suffer before we take our heads out of the sand and DO something about it?

Oh, Dad, I want to go now. I want to run as far and as fast as I can.

But I won't. I'll stay and fight.

For you. And for others like you.

I'm not the daughter of a Marine Corps Sargent for nothing. ;)

* Statistics provided by the Alzheimer's Association (

Friday, August 23, 2013

Chocolate, Trips, and a(nother) Goodbye

Spent a lovely afternoon with Dad today. He was in a great mood, albeit a bit tired. He ate well at lunch, including the candy bar I brought for him, and, of course, drank several glasses of his ubiquitous chocolate milk. We took advantage of the gorgeous weather (around 75 today) and sat outside, chatting with some students who were visiting from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

We had a bit of sadness, too, as Dad had to say goodbye to one of his best buddies, an aide named Christina. She's moving on to a new job. We wish her much luck and happiness, but we are sure going to miss her.

As she was hugging Dad and saying goodbye, he reached over and kissed her cheek. So sweet.

Dad asked me today where I was staying. He thinks I'm in town just for a visit. I told him I was staying nearby and he said, "Good. We can make a quick getaway."

Laughing, I asked him where he wanted to go.

"Nowhere," he said. "It's just in case we *want* to go, we'll be ready."

Can't argue with that logic. :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

For the caregivers...

In my book, caregivers are angels, but angels who get weary, who often feel alone, who ask 'why.' This painting, "Weary Angel", is dedicated to my caregiving friends. You are amazing, and you are not alone.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Friday "Feels"

This is MaryAlice's Mom. She is 89, and she has Alzheimer's. Just like with Barbara's painting, I saw this lovely face and had to paint it. There is so much love, strength, wisdom and experience in these elderly faces, and so much beauty, too.

Visited with Dad today and oh, my gosh, was he in a talking mood! He talked my ears off! Non-stop the whole time I was there. Lately he's been very quiet so this was quite unexpected. He told me he'd missed me which made me go all misty eyed. And you know what? There's beauty in his old face, too. :)

Dad with one of his very favorite aides. Today he greeted her
with "Hey there, Charming." Such a flirt.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Man and His Pizza

Friday was our monthly pizza party for the residents in Memory Care. Dad, as usual, ate more than his fair share. The man loves his pizza! (He also loves his chocolate milk, which he'd drink by the gallon if we let him.)

One of the aides told us Dad was looking for his car keys the other day because he wanted to take one of the residents out for a date. How cute is that. And yet, while I was sitting right next to him, he asked Sis where I was. That's the Alzheimer's journey: one minute you're smiling, the next you have tears in your eyes.

Friday, August 2, 2013

For Their Sake

If we don't look out for their health and well being, who will?

Unlike nursing homes that have stringent government oversight, assisted living facilities are monitored by the states, many of whom have very minimal requirements. In Pennsylvania, only two aides are required by state regulations for up to 16 dementia/Alzheimer's patients. This is a population that wanders, that needs assistance going to the bathroom, assistance to eat, assistance to get dressed. If one aide is helping someone go to the bathroom, and one aide is helping someone eat lunch, who's watching the other 14 residents and making sure they are safe?

We need to work for stronger oversight and regulations on the state level in order to protect our loved ones. For their sake.