Dementia on cloudy background

My dad has dementia – not Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia – but dementia nonetheless. His dementia has slowly progressed over many years and is greatly exacerbated by his heavy drinking. I am genetic heir to alcoholism, fear it, and drink minimally because of it.

Because I am feeling pain and anxiety over my father’s health, yesterday I spent an inordinate amount of time formatting and reformatting a cut and paste of content from the Alzheimer’s Association on how to cope over the holidays. Rather than write from my heart and deal with my angst, I spent hours tweaking HTML code until my post visually pleased me. In that small way, I exercised control, for I am not in control of my father’s brain health. I cannot make him stop drinking. I cannot stop his brain deteriorate, and it devastates me, for I love him dearly.

Yesterday’s post perhaps offered you both too much information and too little information.  Too much information on coping over the holidays should you have a family member with dementia, for you could have simply clicked on the link to the Alzheimer’s Association article at the top of the post and received the very same content verbatim. Too little, for I did not speak at all. I was silent, hiding with my heart heavy, wondering what could be done to help my mother and father face this beast.


45 responses to “My Dad and Dementia”

  1. […] not lie, but I am known to have a flair for the dramatic. So when my uncle read my piece about my father’s dementia, he became very alarmed, not knowing that my father is still quite sharp. My dad’s definitely […]

  2. It is heartbreaking and so tough to deal with dementia and alcoholism. Right up there with some of the worst things. So sorry for your pain and that of your family. Your honesty was outstanding. And I send hugs and prayers. xx ellen

  3. Thank you so much, Indah! Your photographs of nature help me cope. They say that not only immersing yourself in nature, but looking at images of nature, can relax the mind, the body, and the spirit.

  4. I am so sorry to hear about your dad and you have to go through this as well. My thoughts with you. And wonderful post you have here by sharing information to those who needed. Cyber hugs from Rotterdam to support you! Have a good weekend 🙂

  5. I will keep them, their caretakers and fellow residents, you, and your extended family in my prayers.

  6. I’m so sorry that you’re going through this, Kitt. Thank you for all the information you posted yesterday; if that helps even one person, then all the HTML-formatting and everything is worth it. I’m glad that you felt that you could share your pain with us today, even if you couldn’t yesterday. (One day at a time!) Hugs and prayers, my friend.

  7. Sending love and mighty hugs your way, Kitt.

  8. My grandmother has done both. She’s gotten violent with staff members and even other residents (e.g., people she doesn’t know), but has gotten more sweet-tempered with family. I worried a lot for my folks during the move, and I still worry a bit for my grandfather– who actually is enjoying his new environs very much.

  9. Not presumptuous at all. Quite wise. Thank you. I will give it up to God in prayer.

  10. Thank you. It has been a long, slow decline for my father. He’s well aware of what is happening to his brain.

  11. Thank you, Jak. For those who want to read your piece, they can find it at

    You do a great job of describing the ambivalence we feel when family members’ behavior is affected by dementias such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons. The behavioral changes compound already tense family dynamics. Family members who already were abusive, may become more so, and those who previously were not, may undergo personality changes as their brains change.

    Thank you for sharing your family’s story.

  12. Kitt, I believe that for you the best thing you can do for yourself it to not strive to find the answer. I know that your heart aches for your parents, especially your father. But there is likely at this point nothing you haven’t said or suggested to him… You need to have a peace and know while you love them you cannot ‘fix’ things… you can’t feel responsibility for this… It is not yours’ to bear. If you can give this fear and heartache to God and ask Him to give you a peace and accept this, that’s what I might suggest. If I’ve been presumptuous to do so, please forgive me…. I hope that you can enjoy this Christmas…. Diane

  13. I am so sorry to hear that you are dealing with this. We have dealt with dementia in our family too and it is heartbreaking. The person you have always known, becoming someone else. Thinking of you during this difficult time.

  14. This brings up so many mixed feelings for me.

    First, with my paternal grandmother. Her passing was an intensely private and personal thing for me; she was so special. I introduced her to Cimmorene before ANY other family member and she got how Cimmy was special to me before Cimmy even realized it herself.

    Second, with my maternal grandmother- the very same I talk about in “I Survived the Second Part of Hallowthankamas”.

  15. Thank you, Tony. God bless you.

  16. Thank you, Dyane. My pdoc stopped his group for the time-being (participation dropped off over the year), so Friday I’m seeing my psychogist who I haven’t seen in awhile (because I was doing group instead). Next week I’m meeting with a consultant about senior care issues.

  17. From reading this post (and not having read your previous one), I would say you are facing your pain and the prospect of loss (whatever form that takes) quite well. I am praying for you. If I can be of further help, please let me know.

  18. I was absolutely blown away reading this – I applaud you for writing from your heart about something so painful. Sending you my love – please know that I’m here for you now and always.

  19. Tough, tough, tough. I am holding a good thought for both you and your father.

  20. Thank you so much! I sure hope so!

  21. Thank you. Bless you.

  22. The reality is that I cannot change his behavior, not as long as he is legally competent, which he is.

  23. Your love for him shines through your comment, as I’m sure it does over the phone.

  24. Thank you. I will keep that in mind.

  25. Thank you so much. I send you a hug and my prayers in return. God bless you and have a merry Christmas.

  26. I’m very sorry about your father. Thank you for having the courage to talk about it.

  27. Kitt, I am sorry. It is hell to feel powerless over someone’s destructive behavior. I understand. I wish I had some bright happy idea for you. All I can say is that I’m with you, Sister! <3

  28. Yes, I miss him…

  29. I guess it is “easy” on me as I don’t have to deal with the situation directly. My parents are in Switzerland and I am in Australia. Hard to get a bigger distance in between you… But it makes it hard, as the phone calls get weird. Sometimes he knows me, sometimes he doesn’t. Simetimes he can talk and sometimes he doesn’t find the words. He is also 93 already. But I wished for him to go the way he was, strong and smart and a charmer. And not kind of waste away…

  30. Thats a bummer about the al-anon meetings. Working through the 12 steps with a sponsor gave me some great tools to use when coping with alcoholics. Also, just having the support of others who had been through the same thing was priceless. I’m here if you need an understanding ear.

  31. I am sorry that he is so far gone now. You must miss him.

  32. I attended a couple of meetings when I was in my 20’s and read the literature. I get overwhelmed by groups because of my boundary issues.

    Most of my family of origin work I’ve done in individual and group psychotherapy. Been in therapy (as needed, with breaks) since I was 18. Plus, I have a masters in psychology and a license as a Marriage and Family Therapist, but haven’t practiced since I was 30 (51 now).

  33. Stay strong. That’s all I can say. A problem without a solution is no problem. Blessings.

  34. Sending you a cyber hug, I take care of my Mom who has Dementia. Each day has challenges for us all, so my sincere prayers. Happy holidays

  35. I know what you mean. My dad has dementia too… He kind of disappeared over the last 18 months. Only every now and then he is peeking out again and you kind of never know if it is the last time you see or hear from him…

  36. Have you ever considered going to Al-Anon?

  37. You are right. It is I who must face the beast. The beast being my own pain and powerlessness to protect them. My parents know how I feel about their drinking. In fact, my father remained sober during a couple of day visits – one last summer at my request so that his grandsons could remember him sober and cogent, and the night before our Thanksgiving car trip for my benefit. They know that the family’s drinking triggers me. I have said so. I have written so. They respect my need for sobriety and make their own choices for their own lives.

  38. Could it be not your mother or father you must help face this beast, but yourself. Such a hard and painful thing to deal with. Both my parents are alcoholic, so I can relate. Hugs.

  39. I just wanted to tell you that I understand what you are going through. I used to be a CNA at a long-term care facility. I have seen first hand how it progresses. It is a truly unfair disease. If you ever need to talk, feel free to message me.

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