ALZHEIMER’S, YOUR PARENTS AND THEIR MEDICINE
“Chris, can you get down our vitamins?,” Dad directs Mom after breakfast.
I take a step toward Mom. “Let me help,” I offer.
“No, no. That’s your mother’s job. Right, Chris?”
“Yep,” says Mom.
“That’s right. Every day after breakfast and lunch, your Mom gets down the basket with the vitamins. While I do the dishes, she puts her vitamins in this cup and mine in that cup.”
“And what about Mom’s medications?”
“She does those, too,” declares Dad, with obvious pride in his orderly division of responsibilities.
We move on to other topics. But on the drive home later, something is nagging at me.
How can Mom still be managing her own medications? And Dad’s, too? During a recent dinner in her favorite restaurant, I had to go searching for Mom after an unexpectedly long trip to the Ladies’ Room, and found her wandering out the front door into the parking lot. And a couple days ago, I learned that someone in Mom’s choir has to help her follow the liturgy in the hymnal.
This mounting body of evidence does not suggest someone who should be in charge of her own medications, much less those of her Caregiver-In-Chief.
How am I going to have this conversation with Dad? How do I show him what things look like through my eyes? How do I help him see how Mom is changing? How his own life is changing?
Since Alzheimer’s affects each person differently, changes in the Alzheimer’s Loved One can elude even the most dedicated Caregiver. And guess whose job it will be to step up and bring them to the attention of your Alzheimer’s Caregiver?
Now is the time to prepare yourself for this. If your family is the “friendly small-talk” type, how can you initiate some shifts that allow you to begin freely discussing important matters? Give Crucial Conversations a read; the skills you learn from this classic book will come in handy in many ways along your Alzheimer’s journey.