El Camino College Union

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Dealing with my dad’s Alzheimer’s

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I wake up and hear the living dead walk by my room.

The microwave gets turned on.

I hear too many beeps, so I get up and fix my dad his coffee, as he forgot to put the cup in twice already.

Zombie movies are popular, and according to polls more people are afraid of Alzheimer’s disease than others.

There’s gotta be a frickin’ correlation, but another voice in the discussion in my mind brings up the fact it is 5 a.m. and I got class in four hours. Let him drink coffee and hopefully zone out to old movies.

As I look at it, my father died sometime last year. The body, imitating bits and pieces of who he was, still lives, sometimes putting up a decent show, some days not.

Cold, but true.

I mean, what can you say. When I asked him how was the Angels game, his reply was “I couldn’t tell the score, I tried closing the Cheetos bag, crossed the eyes of the tiger, and somehow … the Angels won, I guess, I can’t remember.”

That kind of moment is cute from a toddler or a laugh from a high 20-something.

But it’s disturbing when it comes from a 80-year-old that’s a lifetime baseball fan and while he had a number of eccentricities, he was considered an intellectual.

These days, he confuses my mother with five other women, and can’t tell the difference from dreams (or worse, nightmares) and reality, when he wakes up and doesn’t recognize the drive home or even the layout of our home.

“It’s just going to get worse,” is what everyone says when they hear my father has Alzheimer’s or dementia and I tell them he’s not at the thousand-yard stare stage yet.


But nobody tells you what to expect or what to do.

Every case can be different, but so far, nobody mentions the wild mood swings, accusations and paranoia, or the freaky obsessive-compulsiveness.

A friend of mine whose father had the disease told me the most important thing is the paperwork. Get all the paperwork done while you can — power of attorney over the person’s medical and financial affairs, bills, veteran status and such.

Don’t forget the primary care giver. In my case, I keep an eye on my mother and try to help out whenever I can.

Be patient, even if it’s explaining for the fifth time in 15 minutes which pills are which or that his favorite show “American Gods” comes on at 9 p.m. the next night, and we’ll remind him.

And don’t argue. If you can’t calmly persuade, just flow with it.

You just have to remember it’s a crummy way to ride to the end, but all you can do is try to make it easier.

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Dealing with my dad’s Alzheimer’s