A Much Too Common Story

by Jill Francis on April 13th, 2015

Once upon a time, there was a father who loved his son very much.  So much in fact that he "protected" his son by hiding the mother's dementia.  The father thought he could care for the mother, the home and the cats by himself, and he did for a while...and then he passed away suddenly.  

It took local authorities hours to contact the son because the parents did not have his name and phone number in an easily accessible location, the neighbors didn't have it and the mother couldn't remember it.  When the son finally learned of his father's passing, he immediately loaded up his family and drove the several hours to his parents.  When he arrived, he found a mother with dementia and a house in disarray.  And the next day, it took his wife eight hours to find life insurance policies and other needed documentation.  

Now the mother lives with the son, his wife, his two active boys and the dogs.  She is grieving the loss of her husband, trying to adapt to new surroundings (and struggling) and learning how to live in a busy household which is completely foreign to her (she has dementia, she is neurologically unable to learn, how do you think she's faring?).  The son and his family are adapting to life with Grandma and if adding a fifth person to the household wasn't hard enough, Grandma is also an Alzheimer's patient.  The lives of this extended family have been turned upside down because a father wanted to "protect" his son.   It is hard, it is messy and it has only just begun.  

Dealing with death and dementia is difficult but it can be easier with just a little communication and a little planning.  Take time now and have the uncomfortable conversations in order to save stress, anxiety and more discomfort in the future.  Don't assume you are protecting your parents or your children by withholding important information.  Forewarned is forearmed, after all.  And certainly... 

Don't let this story be yours.

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Paula - June 25th, 2015 at 7:04 AM
An update:
Momma, in her lucid moment, admitted that she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's in 2001. She & dad decided to move 420 miles away to protect us. So they had over 13yrs to prepare and did not....we had a couple of months of a crash course on dementia. It has been a nightmare for all of us.....a double punch for her son (my husband.). With many prayers, help from friends, and sleepless nights, we made the decision to place her in a memory care facility.
There is a lot of guilt.....a lot of what ifs.....a lot of wishing they would have prepared and prepared us....a lot of wishing they would have enjoyed their last days living close to us.
Many thanks to Jill for being a great friend and mentor.
Paula Mullins

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