As some of you who follow me here may know, since I have posted about it recently, my dad was diagnosed with dementia with Alzheimers Disease. His confusion, cognitive skills issues, and memory loss have been going on for awhile now, and we have been worried. He finally agreed to get some testing done, and about 5 months ago, he was officially diagnosed and our fears were realized. Now we are on the very slow and yet sometimes very fast track to losing pieces of my dad, and losing time.
We are losing time, yes. But probably more terrifying is how HE is losing time, quite literally. He has had a lot of doctors appointments the past few months, because people with dementia often are suceptable to many other health issues, so he is always being checked out to make sure other things like circulatory and blood flow and heart are still working correctly. In his new altered state of mind, he spends a lot of time worrying about time. What time is it? How long until my next appointment? What time do we have to leave? Will you wake me up? When do I need to be ready? What time is the appointment again? These are the flurry of repetitive questions that my mom gets asked on a daily basis these days. She answers, and then, maybe 30 minutes later, he will ask again, and again. She has tried putting a big clock on his wall in his room, putting a simple one-day calendar and then writing in what he needs to be doing that day – none of it seems to stick or work very well. He still gets anxiety about going to these appointments, and what the weather will be like if they need to drive there, and will they be home before dark, and so many other things. Last night I got a text from my mom at 4 am that was just her reminding me of some minor things. I texted back: “Go to sleep. Why are you texting me at 4am?” She said that “dad woke me up at 3:30am shaking me and in a panic asking if he had appointments today and what time.” Ugh.
It has to be so scary inside his head. Losing time. Not being able to remember what you might be doing that day, or even remember that you were already told multiple times and then forgot. Sometimes when I look into his eyes lately, he is there. Other times, he is not. We are told they have “good days, and bad days.” When he is having a bad day, it is especially heartbreaking to witness. And also very sad watching all the ways it affects my mom. She said he woke her up three times in the past week asking about appointments, or she would be getting ready for bed at night and he would walk into the living room all dressed and ready to go to the doctor, at 8pm at night. “That appointment is tomorrow morning, Dave”, she would tell him. And then he would slowly go back into his room, confused and defeated.
We all lose time every minute of every day. For someone with dementia, it is amplified and put on speakers at the loudest volume. And to hear it is deafening, and terrifying beyond words.