Susan talks about her father’s stroke-induced dementia, what her family doctor missed, and how her mother has reacted to his illness.
“Dad has now been diagnosed with dementia.”
“Not Alzheimer’s but he’s got dementia from a lot of TIAs and mini strokes. He finally got referred to a geriatric neurologist, who put all these pieces together, and she said ‘Ben, you’ve been having all these mini strokes probably for about 8 or 9 years. And, it’s because your blood pressure has been so out of whack.’ Which… we had been saying to his doctor ‘His blood pressure is out of whack.’ I am blown away by how amazing the health care system can be, but also how easily you can fall through the cracks. And I feel that a lot of the physical health stuff that happened to dad got totally dismissed because he was old.”
The thing that I find hardest is maintaining mom and dad’s dignity, and watching how some people don’t.
“They treat them like children. They don’t talk to them, they talk about them. When we went on a tour of seniors’ facilities this one woman – mom and dad were sitting right there – she kept talking about “them” all the time. ‘So what do they want?’ ‘Isn’t it funny how they want this?’ ‘And you know, all they want is to have a nice meal and a cozy place.’ And I said ‘Would you mind talking to my mom and dad? They are sitting right here.’ That stuff grosses me out. Mom and dad came out of that place and dad just looked at me and said [shaking head] ‘No…..'”
He is sad about losing his driving licence. He actually cried, though, when they took away his banking.
“My dad was an incredibly bright financier. Finance was his thing. It was very sad at Christmas. He was down messing around on the computer trying to get onto his online banking and he said ‘Suz, can you come over? I just can’t get in. I can’t get in’ He couldn’t remember his passwords. We went through it a million times. Over and over. He just couldn’t do it. One of my brothers now has signing authority at the bank. The bank manager is a woman we have known for a long time, and she put her hand on dad’s shoulder and she said ‘Ben, you know, we are all with you.’ And the tears just rolled out of his eyes. I think it was sort of the final thing. I think he thought “Oh my God, I have no worth. I can’t drive. I can’t do…”
“Mom’s struggling a lot with the fact that they aren’t ‘normal’ any more. She doesn’t talk about the fact that dad has dementia. She will not say the word to other people. But now that the Parkinson’s drugs have worked so well she has decided he doesn’t have dementia, he has Parkinson’s!“