The pain of watching someone fade away from Alzheimer's...

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I am sure this has been experienced by thousands on this site alone, leave alone hundreds of thousands in the world. But to watch a father who was so capable, so vibrant and robust, so intelligent, and to see him get to the point where you have to feed him spoons full of food and liquid like a baby is so excruciating. I guess there are not good diseases, not sure I would prefer to watch my dad die of cancer, but sometimes this is more than I can take. I try to go to the MC most every day but sometimes I just need to stay away for a day for my own sanity, yet hard not to feel guilt. Sometimes I try to take a saving grace in thinking because of his incognizance, he is not as aware of his predicament as we are. Sometimes we come and visit and leave and it doesn't appear to matter to him. Today, my mom was there and tried to leave and he grasped her trying to keep her from leaving. As said, millions have gone through this so who am I to gripe about it? My dad could fix anything, build anything, do anything much better than I could. A year and a half ago he beat me in golf (not a huge accomplishment). I could hit further but he had the coordination to hit more accurate, now he is wheeled around and needs a hoyer lift to get from chair to bed. I guess there is no question here. Just so heartbroken for my dad. If there is a question, could it be true that he is not suffering as much as those watching him decline? If that was true, we would not be suffering as much.

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I feel the same pain. No, I don't think our loved ones are fully aware but I do think they have some idea things are off. My mom actually said "I'm not what I used to be" and apologized to me. I reassured her it was OK. This very social woman stopped emails last year, has difficulty dialing a phone and changing channels on the remote, and has lost reading comprehension. The kicker is her health is otherwise good, so knowing I may have to witness her decline to the very end stage and all that entails is excruciating.
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That is the only saving grace, rocketjcat, the fact that our loved ones are probably oblivious to their plight.
But we have enough heartache for the both of us.
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Yes we can only hope they don’t understand what’s happening, and I don’t think Mom does.  She has little to no past to compare her current state to.    Unfortunately, for us who love them and remember the past, it’s torture. 
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Thanks all. I am not happy many others go through this, but knowing I am not the only one is helpful in a sort of way. (Kind of feel bad that knowing others are going through the same thing is helpful, but I think you all know what I mean). I would like to think that my dad is similar to RocketjCats mom, perhaps not realizing how limited they are. But it appears there are indeed moments he is that way and other days where is exhibits some frustration. A few weeks back, he told a fellow church member visiting, he wonders what he did wrong that God is punishing him like this. That was a few weeks ago and I think hes less cognizant now. The visitor told him, you have done nothing wrong.
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Karsten, it is indeed heartbreaking. 2 years ago Mom was living semi-independently and emailing me daily. I am coming up on the 2 year anniversary of her emergency surgery and her ensuing quick decline mentally and physically, now blind, in a wheelchair and in NH. She was a single mother, successful in her career, and very an artistic calligrapher. Today she can’t hold a spoon. One thing I have found helpful to me, is to share her story with some of her special caregivers at the NH. I’ve shown some of her close CNAs pictures of her when she was working, and have shared some of her beautiful calligraphy with a special LPN. I think that sharing some of her history makes it it more personal, not just another frail old lady. For some reason it makes me feel like I’m not so alone in there. It’s just a thought.
To answer your initial question in Mom case I don’t think she realizes her condition. Even the recent vision loss doesn’t seem to bother her greatly. She sometimes says to turn the lights on, I say ok, and that’s the end of it. I have no idea what’s going on in her head, but she does not seem depressed, tells me she’s happy, so I have to believe that she is not really aware of her condition and accepts it as normal. She lives in the present. I think that’s a blessing.
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I’m in the same situation with my dad. For the first time last month he asked who I was. Wasting away physically. Very limited speaking. I bought him sweatpants yesterday with a sports team name and held them up to him to read and he didn’t know what it said. I visit briefly daily as I’m never sure when his last day will come.
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Dear Karstan,

I'm so sorry, I know its extremely hard to see our parents in this condition. No one wants to see their once independent parents in this state. Keep holding on and be their advocate. Thinking of you. Sending you hugs.
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Rest as you need
Dementia is a long tiring journey for everyone
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((((((Hugs)))))))
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Karsten, know that others feel your pain as well. I think this is one of the hardest parts about caregiving, whether it's for someone with dementia or other complications of aging.

My father didn't have dementia, but he did have physical complications, and toward the end they magnified. It was literally gut wrenching to see this talented man slip away.

You have my deepest sympathy. Take the time off as you need it, because it is challenging to visit and see the changes, as well as to know there's nothing you can do to help restore his memory.
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