Alzheimer’s and Dad

This week I met with the new companion that will be visiting dad while I am on my winter vacation. She is a retired nurse and is just looking for part-time work to fill in some of her free time.  I feel fortunate in that she has done this type of work before.  She was recommended to me by a friend.

We met at dad’s assisted living facility and I showed her around his room while he was sitting in the lounge. I showed her the thermostat where I have been finding the temperature settings have been changed.  I asked her to monitor that regularly.

I showed her his refrigerator and told her the extra items he likes to have in it, like Coke or pretzels or cheese. I introduced her to dad and they spoke briefly.  As usual, dad wasn’t very talkative.

Today I met my son and grandson at the assisted living facility. My grandson wanted to play games on the iPad and I sat him in front of the end table near dad so dad could follow the conversation.  Still, dad didn’t seem very engaged.  I just have to satisfy myself with the fact that he can be stimulated by our presence.

My grandson was excited to be there and to play the games. My son had promised to take him shopping at Target afterwards, so he was ready for that too.  Some days my grandson acts very shy though today he did very well. However, he didn’t want to go up to his great grandpa to say goodbye.  Even though he visits a lot, I think he is still a bit afraid of great grandpa because he doesn’t talk that much.

Whenever I try to talk to dad I always have to repeat myself partly due to his hearing I think, but also because I think he doesn’t really focus. When I arrived today I first checked dad’s room while I put away the snacks that I brought him.

Again I found the thermostat set to cool while the temperature was set to 90 – as high as it would go. I took some pictures with my cell phone. Then I reset the setting from “cool” to “heat” and I set the temperature to 75.  I asked dad when I got back to the lounge if he was resetting the thermostat himself.  I showed him the pictures I had taken.  He didn’t know if he was doing that or not.

One of the most frustrating things about Alzheimer’s disease is that there is no way for me to know what dad is able to do and what he can no longer do. I think it is possible he is changing the settings himself in an effort to warm up or cool down the room.  However, since there were times when the actual heating unit was unplugged and the back door was open, I am pretty sure that dad is not the only one turning off his heat.

I sent another email to the director asking that they just check his room and reset the thermostat regularly. And since she offered to lock the thermostat, I said maybe now is the time to do that.  I feel like I need to be checking it many times a day and I just can’t, so I have to find another solution!

So here I am, still stressing along, even as I make plans to get away for awhile. I will still be here until the end of the year, so that is time to keep checking on this issue and anything else that turns up.

On the one hand, I am most anxious to get away and just walk on the beach. Our weather has turned cold and rainy and I get depressed as the days get shorter and darker.  On the other hand, I know I will want to be able to check in on dad and will feel the stress of being far away.  I am never totally stress free, and maybe I never will be.  I just need to learn to take one day at a time and not pre-worry about what is ahead.

Dad does seem healthy and that is a very good thing. I had a nice visit with my son and grandson and that was very nice too.  In a few weeks dad will have his first visit with the neurologist who will be evaluating his Alzheimer’s disease.  This visit will be just one hour for them to open a file and determine what to do next.  I find myself wishing that would be sooner as I am confused about where dad is heading right now.

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, Caregiving, Companion, Dementia, Eldercare and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Alzheimer’s and Dad

  1. Joy Johnston says:

    I certainly understand the stress and guilt, but it sounds like you are being very responsible and making sure your dad can have the best care possible while you take a well-deserved break.

  2. We are never stress free. The not knowing about the Alzheimer’s and what it means is hard. I hope you can lose yourself in the ocean for a moment or two.

    • I do plan to lose myself in the calming sounds of the ocean. I love to watch the waves as they come to the sand and to listen to the sounds as I fall asleep in the night. I have a few months the go, but am already ready for the sunshine and the ocean sounds and smells.

  3. JodiMelsness says:

    It’s ok to lock it, we have clients that do the same thing. Sometimes when I arrive fir nursing visits, it’s too hot in there. It’s good to recharge, where are you going?

  4. Somewhere I read that the body thermostat of elderly people is completely skewed, which is why sometimes when you go into an elderly person’s home, it will be boiling hot with all the windows shut. And still they are cold. Perhaps your dad is changing the thermostat but not remembering. Just a thought. And yes, the ocean is a balm for me as well…it is no accident that we have similar banner pictures across our sites! Hallie

    • Yes, it is true that elderly people, especially men, have difficulty maintaining their body temperatures. They tend to become hypothermic unless the room temperature is kept pretty warm. For dad, even when he was younger, he was always cold when everyone else was comfortable. It has just gotten worse as he got older. I do think dad may be just pushing buttons on the thermostat now without remembering exactly what he should do to get it warmer or cooler. That is why I have agreed to lock the thermostat. I will meet with the maintenance people this week to accomplish that. (And yes, the ocean is always a great way to keep calm and reduce stress.)

  5. boomer98053 says:

    I think the locking thermostat solution is a good one, as long as it is set at the appropriate comfort level for your dad. You and later, the companions, can continue to monitor it. Obviously if the settings change once it is locked, you’ll know the culprit. Neurology appointments – or the time leading up to them – can be very stressful. Knowing is better than not knowing, regardless of the outcome. Wishing you the best and hoping for even better.

    • I hope to get the thermostat locked this week and then I will see if the problem is solved. I will have access to the key to change it in case it gets too hot during warm days as the direct sun comes into dad’s room sometimes. I think it is mostly just going to get colder from now on, so that won’t be much of a problem. Thanks for your good wishes.

  6. Janet Yano says:

    Hang in there. You are doing all you can.

  7. We do the best we can. I thought I had for my neighbor, Miss D, but she’s lonely back home. We can’t fix everything, but just be there. I know you have really been there for your dad. I’m happy to hear you are giving yourself some time off this winter. We’re no good to our loved ones with dementia if we don’t take care of ourselves, too.

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