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Examiner
  • Sandy Turner: Remembering the things Dad would forget

  • I was thinking about the years I lived with Dad, after mom’s passing, and although there were many times I thought I was the one losing my mind, besides being there for him, there were other advantages of living with someone with dementia.

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  • I was thinking about the years I lived with Dad, after mom’s passing, and although there were many times I thought I was the one losing my mind, besides being there for him, there were other advantages of living with someone with dementia.
    It makes sense now as I remember the many times mom would call me to “come over and straighten out your father.” Sometimes I had wished I’d had the opportunity to make a phone call to someone to help me help him. Most of the time the only thing that needed “straightened” would be the list of concerns he had accumulated over the day’s time. Where was his checkbook, wallet, remote control, duct tape, clothespins or his economy size trash bags?  It’s amazing how he could remember his days in the war, who won the World Series for the past 20 years or which one of us kids lost his favorite tool in 1968, but couldn’t remember what happened five minutes ago.
    I didn’t cook much back then but luckily serving leftovers was never an issue for Dad. He thoroughly enjoyed it as much the second time as he did the first, as he had already forgotten he had eaten it the day before. Typically, he never remembered whether or not he had eaten and would gladly eat a plate full of food whenever offered.
    We ate a lot of fast food and he’d see me walk in the front door with a carry-out sack in hand, take out the food, and put in on a plate. He’d say “this tastes great” and say that he didn’t realize I could cook so well. I’d say thanks. Compliments are always good.
    Whenever decisions needed to be made and discussions began between the two of us, his reaction would be instantaneous. He would either be totally in agreement or firmly opposed. I quickly learned that if the discussions weren’t going my way, I could change the subject and come back to it 15 minutes later, as he would have forgotten what we were talking about. Eventually, I would find the right words to help him make the decision he’d be comfortable with. How fortunate to have the chance to experience “do-overs,” in a short amount of time, plus I was able to practice my negotiating skills over and over until I got them right. I guess I could have convinced him that any decision I made, he had totally agreed with me, whether he did or not, but taking advantage of dementia has to have its limits.
    Any woman likes to have a second opinion on her outfit. I’d come out in the morning, to go to work, and ask Dad the typical questions of, do these shoes match, does this make me look fat? If I didn’t like his answer the first time, I’d wait five minutes, as he would have forgotten I had asked for his opinion, and try again. The strategy was, if he gave me the same answer three times in a row, I’d change.
    Page 2 of 2 - No one said taking care of Dad all those years would be easy, but compared to his state of mind now, I’d give anything to have the chance to take advantage of his dementia once more.
    Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at sandydownhome@hotmail.com
     

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