Anna Kerr (my pseudonym)
My Dad Has Alzheimer’s. My. Dad. Has. Alzheimer’s. It really is a phrase that’s hard to get used to. Sure I’ve known my parents were going to get older. Everyone does. That’s unavoidable. I’d even thought about the things that would start to happen to them: not as active, no longer working, maybe not as many trips away but I never really thought this.
Especially to a man as incredible as My Dad.
Looking back to the early days it’s as though he knew and he tried so hard to keep it from us. He’d laugh it off when he’d crunch into the shell of a Moreton Bay Bug not remembering how to eat them. He’d wait for Mum to say the name of his children and grandchildren when they visited. He’d say “oh I remember that” when you’d remind him that the old friend he just asked after had died 10 years ago.
Mum definitely covers for him. We grew up with them sharing everything. It’s always been a 50/50 partnership. Now she is taking on everything. She’s telling his stories for him. She grabs the remote to turn the TV on and off because he doesn’t know how to do that anymore. She drives everywhere. She organises everything.
Mum’s days were twice as busy because she was doing everything for Dad. She was trying to keep one step ahead. To anticipate his next move and always focused on keeping him comfortable and happy. All Dad wanted was Mum. So every minute he needed to know she was nearby, he’d follow her around the house, he’d want to go with her even when she was just ducking out to get the mail. Where Mum was Dad was.
We knew it wasn’t sustainable. We knew that if we didn’t get some sort of help for Mum the unthinkable could happen. She’s such a strong and independent woman and so used to just doing what has to be done especially for the husband she’s loved and spent the last 60 years with.
We could see her getting tired. We could see it was beginning to get on top of her. We needed to get care and help for Mum and for Dad.
We also knew the help we needed had to be the right help for both of them. Dad is definitely more comfortable at home however does like getting out for short trips. Mum doesn’t want to feel as though she can’t do it but she does recognise that a bit of help and time to do a few things without having to rush home would be good.
I did some research and found Five.Good.Friends. Their approach compared to other providers seemed different. Revolutionary in fact. They looked as though they’d be a great fit for all of us and could probably even help us as we navigated this unfamiliar and daunting territory.
So mum became a Member. We sat down with our Community Manager, Sharon and she really listened when we talked about the type of help we were after. She developed a personalised Help Plan for us that provided us with exactly the right help we needed. It was a mix of care for Dad: companionship, a drive to his favourite park for a milkshake. And care for Mum: cleaning, gardening and a bit of time so she could do something nice for herself.
The care and help we’re receiving from our regular Helper, Sally has been incredible. She cares for Dad likes she’s one of us. Dad’s comfortable with her and that means Mum’s comfortable. Dad’s getting the love and attention he wants and Mum is getting the respite she needs. They’ve even helped all of us feel more comfortable with the changes we’re facing.
We’ve all realised that nothing says love more than getting the care and help you need. Mum and Dad seem to be doing it for each other. They’re back to doing things 50/50.
We understand care is very personal and a choice that takes time. When you’re ready, contact one of our Care Advisors on 1300 787 581 for an obligation free chat.