On the drive I made neutral comments. I know perfectly well where the dollar store is. But I asked him like I was not sure.
"Is this the right turn or the left turn, Dad?"
Dad got to answer me and feel like he contributed knowledge. It also gets him to stop talking about "endless relatives and their suckage" if he has to pay attention to driving on roads.
I think he was needing directional tether. A way OUT of working himself up into a conniption fit and being stuck in the recursive loop. Easy questions Alz brain has to stop to think about. He knows the answer. He just has to focus
"Go left! And watch out for cars! And then stay in this lane!"
He was still hyper but responding to tether.
He wanted to show me the store like he owned it. I let him and wen with validating next. I admired sponges, baskets, office supplies, gift bags -- the usual mishmosh you'd find at a dollar store. It made him feel SEEN. I don't much care why he's addicted to dollar stores but he is. It's like the toy store to him.
For him to show and tell at me and me to admire? It's like looking at a kid's pretty picture that's all scribble nonsense. Or making polite conversation small talk. I see. I validate. It's not MY scene, but alright. I see it is important to YOU. Cool.
I validated him where I could -- sure, that would a good buy if I were having a BBQ -- lots of plates here. Confirmed. No, I do not need any paintbrushes, but yes, if I did need them buying a bag here would be handy.
I rather he show me measuring spoons than tell me this or that relative sucks. Usually when Dad goes off on how people suck it is because he feels unloved. It is hard to feel loveable when one feels unloved, and in his messed up brain it's easier to assign blame elsewhere than to change his own behavior. More and more it gets to the place where he cannot change his behavior. He's at the mercy of his weird illness. I think the holidays felt lonely to him. We came around of course, but the parents are kind of isolated.
It's scary in there in his brain, I'm sure. To feel out of control all the time and feel unseen. So much he wants validating from my mom. SEE me. SEE me. SEE me.
She does better than before but it's a learning curve. It's also hard to SEE him now, because well... who wants to see their beloved slipping away to a disease like that? It's hard. You want to NOT SEE.
We used to take caregiver classes but stopped going because it was triggering for Dad.
Mom says I handle him better. I really don't. I am just as clueless about caregiving for Alz patients as her -- we learn as we go. But I know my own anxiety experiences of flooding and I can tell when my Dad is in one of them. I try to encourage her too. She needs support.
I wonder what sort of elder period DH and I will go through? I hope we are mental health illness free. But if not, I'll tend to him. He'll tend to me. You don't sign up for the married long haul to just deal in the yummy bits. It's for the long haul.
A lot of what I learn though -- either from kid care or elder care or relationship stuff... it's all the same.
The skills are all transferable. It's all about personal relationship skills, really. And accepting the person wherever it is they are at. And trying to figure out what the next goal is, and assess the willingness everyone has. Is everyone willing to go there or not? If so, what abilities do we have to work with? Wants, needs, and limits? Got it? Alright.
Then make the plan and divvy up the jobs. Get to goal!
When faced with weird -- try to clarify communication. When faced with unanswerable weird -- assume positive intent and look for the feelings behind the words
. Don't take it personal.
Took Dad home in a much calmer mood. He was able to play dominoes with the kid without bossing her about, which led to her being able to play back in a good natured way, which led to him being able to enjoy the game.
I love hearing my Dad laugh -- it is loud and guffaw-y. Anyone hearing it knows the man is having a good time. A bit too much loud but so what? Kid got the giggles and mom relaxed some and so did I. Hearing Dad laugh is rare. It is worthy to note.
Laughter releases a lot of feel good brain chemistry. It's important to emotional health to be able to laugh.
I got to goal. They wrapped up the game and we left for home. Damage minimized. Everyone in a calmer frame of mind.
Dad called me up later and woke me up from a nap. I have caller ID and I debated not picking it up because I was full up on Dad today but I did. I let him yammer at me about house remodels and plumbing.
I was amused and proud of him for his disclaimer.
"Ok, so I'm the father and you don't have to take my advice.
I waited for the BUT. There's always a BUT with him.
"BUUUUUT..... if I were you I would be sure that these estimate people measure well and are better business bureau. And don't pick anything like marble -- that's porous and..."
I could have sighed and told I don't really care
how they demo so long as they clean up. I could have told him I don't give a flying patootie about marble -- I have a kid and I want kid friendly, sturdy, easy to deal with bathroom.
But the feeling behind his Alzheimer witter? The hoppity from one topic to next without letting anyone get a word in edgewise? He loves me, he's worried about my bathroom remodel affecting my stress/anxiety stuff.
However witter-y he gets with bathrooms in the next few days, I could lift that up to myself. He cares. He's trying to show it. Even if in Alzheimer loopy ways.
I let him go on for a while and looked for "the check out" points. Kinda have to ride the Alzheimer interstate and wait for the next good exit. He started talking about decor magazines and I took the out and pointed him to online websites for "senior eye candy" in that vein. He took the bait and wandered off to look. Then I hung up.
I was catching DH up on eldercare news and I got a bit teary and asked him to just hold me for a minute. Sigh.
I am tired. I'm going to take my own cue from a previous post and not try to do MORE work. I just want to chill now. Long day tomorrow.