Caring for a Parent with Alzheimer’s disease Who Doesn’t Ask for Very Much.

Some people who have Alzheimer’s disease have behavioral problems and are difficult and disruptive.  Dad is not like that.  Sometimes a friend might even question whether dad really has Alzheimer’s because he is so quiet.  I remind them that each individual case is different.  But so far, I am thankful that dad has not progressed to a point where he causes problems for himself and others.

Dad has always been fairly quiet.  Now he is even more so.  Sometimes when I visit he hardly talks at all.  It is especially difficult on the days he is sitting in the television lounge.   The television is always on.  Dad sits and half watches.  His hearing isn’t very good, so if I try to talk to him, he really can’t hear or understand me.  Yesterday was like that.  We spent an hour watching the television with very little conversation.

Today was a little better.  We were in his room and my son and grandson were there too.  Dad loves to watch his great-grandson talk and play.  He still doesn’t say a lot, but he smiles and gives hugs and high fives.

Even on days when I take dad out for lunch, he sits at the table beside me but says very little.  When I talk to him or ask him questions, he asks me to repeat them.  I don’t think it is all from his poor hearing.  Partly it is because his mind is elsewhere and I have to “bring it back” before we can have a conversation.

On the other hand, dad never complains.  He doesn’t complain to the staff at his assisted living facility and he doesn’t complain to me.  If he is asked to do something, he does it to the best of his ability – such as getting weighed on the scale once a month.

The staff at the assisted living facility love him.  They tell me he is cute and he is funny.  He does have a good sense of humor and when he answers a question it is often with a non-serious answer.  If he is asked what he would like to drink, he would respond “booze” some of the time.

The only time he is not in good humor is when it is time for him to take a shower.  Over the past year, most of the staff have learned how (and when) to approach dad so that he isn’t as likely to object to his shower.  They have also learned it is easier to let him sleep in than it is to get him up and dressed when he is not ready to do so.

Overall I am happy with dad’s day to day life and with the people at his assisted living facility.  One problem I have noticed lately is that they are frequently under-staffed.   The turnover rate has been high lately and I find myself wondering if I just didn’t notice last year since I didn’t know the staff as well.  Some of my favorite employees are leaving or have left.  They say they are burned out.

Being an aide in an eldercare facility is not easy.  The pay is low and the work can be demanding.  I often wish there were a way to pay the better staff more.  I know turnover is an issue for people who care for their elders at home also.  Any care worker still has a home and family of her own to look after.  When conflicts arise between home and family demands and the work demands, the individual must usually choose the family.  I believe one aide quit because she was required to work on a weekend day.  All facilities must be staffed 24/7 yet few want to work nights or weekends.

In the back of my mind, I always know that I have to watch out for dad’s care myself.  So far we have been lucky in that dad doesn’t not require much staff time.  He has his shower twice a week.  An aide comes in daily to make the bed and straighten out the room.  He requires very little one-on-one attention, and is, in fact, happy to sit in his room or in the lounge alone most of the time.  He doesn’t want conversations and rarely goes beyond saying hello in response to a greeting from another resident or staff.

I know some time things might be different.  I might even have to hire an extra companion to care for him a few hours a day, if dad gets to a point where he needs more attention to help him walk to the dining room or to take care of his bathroom needs.  In the meantime I am happy that dad is satisfied and I try to relax instead of worrying about the next crisis.


About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Assisted Living Facility, Elder Care, Eldercare and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Caring for a Parent with Alzheimer’s disease Who Doesn’t Ask for Very Much.

  1. terry1954 says:

    i am glad he is content. i worked in many facilities through a traveling pool agency. it is so sad when patients cry and cry and no one pays attention to them, because the crying is so common, or others have no visitors, what a shame. your father is so lucky to have you

  2. Thanks, Terry. We are both lucky. He is lucky he doesn’t need much and I am lucky he is satisfied with what he has.

  3. Terre Mirsch says:

    I am glad to hear that you are trying to relax and care for yourself. It is hard to focus on the present and accept the good days when they occur. Spending our energy worrying about things that will not likely happen (I refer to this as ‘negative predicting’) drains our energy, leaving us with little reserve.

    I also appreciated the reminder about the different ways that dementia progresses. My grandmother also suffered from progressive dementia and, fortunately, remained the quiet, polite, and dignified woman that she was before her illness despite memory loss and lack of recognition of any of us prior to her death. It is, however, challenging, as you described, when staff turnover is high and our loved ones need to adapt to new faces and approaches to care. Your dad is lucky to have you as his advocate.

  4. Thanks, Terre. You’re right. I have to work at remembering to focus on the fact that things are good now and not to let myself worry about what will happen if I get that dreaded phone call. Each good day is a good day. I have to just accept that for now things are good and I should relax as much as I can and enjoy what we have while we have it.

  5. Gary says:

    Bless you always!!!

  6. boomer98053 says:

    Your dad is fortunate to have you and your family in his life. It always amazes me how attentive many elderly are when a child is present. I think they’re attracted to the innocence and the real – as opposed to fake – smiles that come forth on their faces. I remember well the days of visiting my dad when the time c-r-a-w-l-e-d by because of his no longer being able to interact with me. Fortunately, I think he still benefited from my visit, even if I just sat in his room reading a book, or a newspaper nearby. I’d provide him snippits of news from the daily paper as though he understood all that I said, even if he might not have been able to understand. Just having a civil conversation, albeit one-sided, with my dad involved him in an activity and provided him with a sense of worth and value.
    Carry on – you’re doing a great job.

  7. Teresa Cleveland Wendel says:

    He’s always been quiet, but now he’s quieter. This is part of the progression.
    Thinking of you.

    • Thanks, Teresa. He used to talk around the table with friends and family. He wasn’t the life of the party, but he participated in the conversation. Now most of his friends and family have passed away and his hearing is not very good. He enjoys being around his children and grandchildren, but I think he must really miss the ones who are gone now. I know mom said for the past few years that “All my friends are gone now.”. It made her very sad to be almost the last oone left. And then she was gone too. Dad never says that, but I still think he must miss his lifelong friends.

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