who will he be today?

Old Man 14037671409_bbb2f90095_cOne day he seems almost normal – making jokes, telling stories, expressing gratitude, communicating lucidly.

The next day he feeds animals that don’t exist; is irrationally paranoid and fearful, freezes in the middle of thoughts and sentences, and cannot remember how to accomplish basic life tasks, how old he is, or even his daughters’ names.

I do not know which father I will greet each morning.

That is dementia.

I have decided it reminds me of living with a teenager – one moment “almost” mature and grown up: making wise decisions, communicating with confidence and respect, interacting as an adult peer. The next moment acting like a child again: thoughtless of action consequences, emotional or surly, insecure and overly dependent. A roller coaster of crisis and climax.

That is dementia.

I am learning again how to help. Stay calm and do not escalate the situation by attempting to reason or argue. Use a quiet, clear, slow voice, respect, and a gentle touch. Do not let his response trigger my past father/daughter issues; do not react defensively, with anger, or with impatience. Do not surprise him with a change of plans or expect him to learn something new or hope for consistency from day-to-day.

I long for a standardized to-do list that I can follow faithfully each day. A defined cause and effect that I can rely on. A “2 + 2 = 4” dependability.

Dementia does not offer that.

Instead I need to face each day with grace, flexibility, prayer, and love-motivated sacrifice of my wishes and desires.

Unlike rasing a teenage, there is no chance that this situation will improve, that he will grow out of this stage, that he will get better. I can only anticipate more of the same or something worse. He is not making progress; he is declining towards the end.

That is dementia.

Who will I greet in the morning? An elderly man. A child of God. A test of my character. My father.

How do you face the challenges in your life that will not get any easier? 


**If you are a person of prayer, please pray for my father and my family… wisdom for future decisions, strength for daily choices of love and sacrifice. Thank you.

7 thoughts on “who will he be today?

  1. It’s not an easy road you are on right now, Terry! I’m praying for you! Though your dad is still with you he’s slipping away and that is excruciatingly hard! I was reminded of something my daughter in law said to me when I commented that caring for mother was like having little children again, and she responded as you did, “only difference it gets better for me and it will only get worse for you as your mom declines”. May God grant you peace and all the grace you need for each unpredictable moment! Love you!


  2. This sounds like my mother-in-law right now. Lucid at times, and other times talking about the ride she took with someone to drop off kids at school. (Whose car? Whose kids? What school. . . Vague answers. It didn’t happen. She didn’t leave the assisted living facility.) Did she go to breakfast today? She’s not sure. Did she walk there, or go in wheelchair? She’s not sure.

    She lost her husband to Alzheimer’s a few years ago. Now, sadly it seems like she is headed down the same path, although she hasn’t been diagnosed.

    As you said, one never knows what you will find today.

    Thinking of you, and all who struggle on this path.


    • I feel your pain, Cheryl… and how difficult to physically and emotionally lose two loved ones this way. Thank you for reading and for your understanding. Sometimes, some empathy and encouragement is what gets us through each day. May God give you strength…


  3. Las oraciones estaran ahi! Es muy dificil ver a tu padre de esa manera, mi mama esta pasando por lo mismo y aunque me da muchisima tristeza y rabia de vez en cuando suelo tranquilizar mi mente y corazon pensando que le estoy devolviendo todo lo que un dia ella me dio.
    Bendiciones a granel y mucha paz!


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