Nervously pacing the floor.
Watching the clock and adding up the hours, minutes and seconds.
Calling family members to aid in a search.
Wondering when do we ask the police to search.
Driving the streets, looking in parking lots.
Fearing the worse.
Praying for the best.
Sounds like the typical scene for when a child runs away, right?
What do you do when it is not your child, but your elderly parent with Alzheimers?
You do the same things, but now it is taken to a whole new playing field. Unlike with a child roaming the streets; the elderly parent sometimes still has a driver’s license and no one notices an elderly person unless they are streaking naked and babbling incoherently.
Last night, my mother-in-law sent my father-in-law to pick up some chicken for dinner at a store that is only about 10 miles away that he has driven to countless times. After about 2 hours, she called me to let me know that he hadn’t returned. (I have strong feeling concerning how long it took her to call me, but that’s not really important) My husband immediately took off to go look for his dad, even making the comment “Well, when I ran away from home or was late; he looked for me.”
He drove the streets near his parents house and finally found father in law’s car still sitting in the driveway (at this point their house has sold and they are there supervising the packing and moving. Of course, if you can’t supervise yourself, then maybe…um yeah.) He finally found out that his father had indeed left to go get the chicken, but then became confused as to where he was, drove around for several hours and finally found home.
My mother in law tried to cover for the “forgetfulness” by saying he had thought the chicken place was on another main street, so it was no big deal. I am not sure, but I feel as though her not acknowledging him having Alzheimer’s is a way of not accepting her own demons she is facing in her later years. He could remember that he was lost, but still seemed a little “disoriented about where this chicken place actually was located. You might think this is no big deal; as people forget locations all the time, but we are talking about a small town that they have lived in for over thirty years. When she tried to prove his memory was still good by asking him the locations of other places, he passed with flying colors. She seemed to think that this proved it was an honest mistake and not his Alzheimer’s getting worse to the point he needs to have his license taken away. Having done some research into Alzheimer’s, I understand that his ability to recall these places is typical. It is accessing his long term memory which will remain intact for years while still having Alzheimer’s. It is the short term memory that he was relying on to drive to the location. He was in “the moment” and that is when the brain has a “short circuit glitch” He had been doing fairly well on his medication and seemed to be improving, but Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and each stage is a little more severe, yet stays subtle in its change until it is too late.
I think there comes a point when even the spouse of the one with Alzheimer’s tries to dismiss it. I feel it is because when they get to the point of having to acknowledge it as becoming more severe, they have to look at their own years that they have left. They want everything to be normal and continue to live like independent adults. No longer can the spouse even be trusted, as they will ask the one with Alzheimer’s to do things that they are no longer capable of; putting themselves and others in danger. Unlike someone with a physical disability, the one with Alzheimer’s can’t regulate their own behavior of what they are no longer capable of.
If you have or are currently around someone with Alzheimer’s, what were some of the behaviors that started when you realized that they were now becoming a danger to themselves and others?
(By the way, The Head Crayon’s vlog is still waiting to be done. He got called in to work Saturday and Sunday, but promises to get it done as soon as he has had some sleep.)