The Dementia Diary

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The Elephant’s Behind

on May 19, 2012

F i L phoned at 7.10pm last night.  A little earlier than usual, but a familiar conversation.

“I was hoping that No. 2 Son could spare me an hour to help me sort out my finances.  I can’t seem to make sense of it.”

No. 2 Son was (luckily for him) doing the weekly shop but I knew that his response would be

‘Ring No. 1 Son.  He’s an accountant!’

because we have been through F i L’s finances with him so often that we just can’t face doing it again.

Anyhow, partly because we had his renewed medications and partly due to the fact that I needed to get out of the house, we went to see him.

“Thank heavens you’re here!”

The obligatory cup of tea was offered and I became aware of how little he notices the time now when he offered me biscuits to go with it.

“No thanks.  We’ve just had lunch.”

It was after 5 pm.  Just a short while ago the thought of having lunch after 1 o’clock would have caused him palpitations, but he didn’t even notice today.

We went through the finances again confident in the knowledge that he will have forgotten it all by morning.  We assured him once again that he is solvent and that if he spends some money on himself that is just fine.

“You might like to replace those trousers you’re wearing” I said laughing.  “I wouldn’t put them on a vagrant or a scarecrow!”

F i L has taken to wearing track pants in the house, which he is pretty much all of the time.  He doesn’t wash them nearly often enough, spilling his food on them and preferring to just mop that off with a damp cloth.  Being jersey, they stretch out of shape and as husband accurately described, the rear view of F i L in them is identical to that of an elephant.

“I only wear them in the house”

“Yes, but they are dirty, bobbly, stretched out of shape and threadbare.”

“But I don’t go out in them.”

“No, I know.  But they still look terrible.”

This circular conversation kept going around until he tried a different tack.

“It’s the colour.  Blue is a terrible colour for trousers.  I should get something like the colour of No. 2 Son’s trousers.”

Husband was wearing stonewashed jeans.  BLUE jeans.

“What would you call those trousers?” He was pointing at husband’s jeans.  “I should get something like that.”

NO! We were not going through that again!

“No.  You want jogging bottoms.”

“Jogging bottoms?”

“Yes. Jogging Bottoms.  Track Pants.”

He was still staring at husbands jeans.

“Those are jogging bottoms?”

“No.  Those are jeans.  You want jogging bottoms.You’re wearing jogging bottoms”

“With no elastic at the bottom?”

“Whatever you want – as long as they are new and clean!”

“So…..jeans?”

“No track suit bottoms!”

He pointed at his trousers.

“What are these?”

“TRACK SUIT BOTTOMS!”

“So I need jeans?”

“No!”

By this point I was on the edge of hysteria.  I was laughing, but knowing I shouldn’t, because F i L was so confused by a pair of trousers.  I was crying, partly through guilt and frustration, but also through laughing so hard.  I’m not sure what the outcome was but I think (if he remembers) he’s going to buy a pair of track pants next week.

On the journey home husband was saying to me (in an accusatory tone)

“Why did say something about his trousers?  You know things like that set him off.”

I reminded husband that anything can set F i L off.  He gets confused more and more easily as time goes on.  It’s the natural progression of his illness.  Anyway, they had a similar pointless discussion earlier about a spare key.  Husband kept on –

“You shouldn’t have set him off!”

“I didn’t do it on purpose!”

How quickly it is forgotten that for a year I was the only one caring for his father.  I was the one who spotted the memory problems and decline.  I was the one that made tough choices like stopping him driving( and took the blame for that from all quarters).  I sought out medical help where others turned a blind eye.

Now I am being ‘taught’ how to speak to F i L!

I was the one having conversations with him through all that time and since, sorting out the spiders web of his financial documents, financial support to fund carers, getting certain bills reduced because of his ill health, taking him to all of his appointments……..

I bite my tongue really, REALLY hard.

Related Article: The Modernistic Trousers

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