How can I have meaningful conversations and spending quality time with my father, without getting overly emotional?

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I don't depend on past "conversation" history with Mom any more. I'm lucky to get "Yum" and a yes / no out of her. She's been nonconversational since I started caring for her almost 8 years ago.

I realized that if she were to have a valuable valued life, I had to deliver it on a tray. She would not pick up and run with it. I'm sure I could expand my 'offerings,' but what has worked so far is birdwatching and then building a table across my kitchen door, where she sits for a few hours a day and throws out peanuts to the squirrels and birdseed for crows, jays, and sparrows. We share in this with comments like, "There's one now! Isn't she cute? Look she's standing up and looking at you!" These are my comments. Her comments are "Here's a peanut for you honey. Come get your peanuts. Look at that."

Our TV time is mostly DVDs of repeatable and meaningful shows...for her. Andre Rieu's English language videos (especiall the new Australia one and the Radio City Music Hall) are seen dozens of times. Each one is two hours! So we enjoy that together. She often conducts along, exercise.

We play catch with Elmo Hot Tomato toy. We read children's books together, especially ones with theme of inclusiveness.

So, I found things that we'd both enjoy, and build on that. Rieu got me to try Dudamel. She loves him, and we'll watch Eroica. Sometimes we surf YouTube together to see music videos. I have video of her conducting the B minor mass. So this is beyond "Oh, Suzanna," this is deep appreciation for the classics.

It is frustrating on drives to be a one-gal blab machine. I wasn't sad that Mom wasn't conversant any more. I was angry that I was stuck away from my brilliant friends (writers, physicists, grammy award winning musicians). When first caregiving Mom, moving away from my 20-year home, it literally took me three months to have a conversation with anyone. Nada. Oh, this conversation happened because my friend back home connected to a Jungian scholar who needed a ride to the airport. So I could at least realize I was still bright.
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And don't underestimate the value of plain, ordinary time with your father. Some of those moments are the most meaningful!
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Hi Lori!

With what your dad has---you have to resign yourself to the fact that the tables have now turned---and you are the Adult, and you dad is regressing. It may not be an easy thing to do, accepting this change, but there are no options other than to accept the situation.

You might try to talk to your dad about simple matters, and see if he is grasping what you say, and then take things from there.

Reminicing with pictures, old photo's and the past....may bring back some happy moments for him-in which you both can share..There may even be some activities you can engage your dad in doing. Your physician or neurologist can help you along these lines, as well as the Alzheimer's Association.

Lori-i do not think there is an easy fix with the situation, and learning as much as you can about the disease, will help you to understand and to cope. There are also many groups out there, as well as this forum-take advantage of as many as you are not alone.

Good luck on your caregiving journey and let us know of your progress.

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Pretty much the same way you get to Carnegie Hall...Practice!

I'm not meaning to sound rude, emotions are difficult things to control, and the best way to become less emotional about something is redundancy.
Keep chatting with you dad, you know he loves it when you do! you'll make it, i promise!
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