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Slipping Away: One Man’s Battle with Alzheimer’s

Slipping Away: One Man’s Battle with Alzheimer’s

Submitted by Lynnette Lee

A couple of years ago my sister and I noticed that something “wasn’t quite right” with dad. Dad was always a force to be reckoned with. His super power was a good debate and he could argue black was white, and white was then blue and before you knew it, he’d take on your own side of the argument as his own without you even knowing.

Always a strong, forthright military man, literally brimming with life and laughter, he seemed to be slowing down. He’d tail off in the middle of a sentence, almost as though someone had come along and stolen his words. Sometimes he’d find the thread again, and often he wouldn’t.

But we reasoned, didn’t everyone have senior moments?

He began to lose everyday items, like his wallet and keys, more and more frequently and eventually we decided to seek a medical opinion. Not a fan of visiting the Doctor, we had to concoct a cunning plan to get him to an appointment.

We asked the doctor to call him in for some blood test results and while he was there, to ask him some memory-related questions. Here he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Once diagnosed we put some measures in place to allow him to live as long as he could and as safely as was possible, in his own home. A team of carers were hired who called in twice a day to prepare lunch and dinner for him and general household duties.

Dad was convinced they were moving things around and that’s why he could never find anything. He also rebelled against having to be in when they called (saw it as having his wings clipped), and would often go off for a walk leaving them locked outside and calling my sister and I to let them in.

We organised for his medication (only two tablets daily thank goodness) to be delivered weekly, already sorted. They used to come monthly but dad had taken an unknown amount, forgetting that he’d already had them.

Many Ups and Downs

The next couple of years were a rollercoaster of a ride. Some of the things he did were exasperating and other were downright hilarious. I began writing his story as these events happened, both to vent my frustrations and keep our dad’s story alive.

At times, we didn’t know if we laughed because things were genuinely funny, or that if we didn’t laugh, we’d simply fall apart. My “Inner Demon” is a character in the book, and I’ve been told that almost everyone on this horrendous journey that is Alzheimer’s has one.

She’s the person that screams in frustration because a half hour appointment takes half a day. Eventually though we learned to stop fighting against the illness – as it was the illness being difficult, and not our dad – and step into his world; as he wasn’t able to live in ours any more.

Eventually More Downs Than Ups

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As dad’s faculties deteriorated bit by bit, we knew he was never going to get better, only steadily worse. As such, we had to make heart wrenching decisions as a family, just to keep him safe and well looked after.

Eventually, we had to move him into a home, but even that was an adventure. His first room was on the ground floor but he was making the staff nervous as he kept trying to escape. Hence he was moved up to a more secure floor (we told him it was an upgrade), away from the automatic door.

I’d take him to our local Veteran’s coffee morning, which he used to love to attend. As time went by though, he enjoyed going there, but he had no idea where he was or who these people were.

Keeping a Memory Alive

The book goes back in time, giving you a glimpse of the man he used to be. And to see this strong, handsome, proud man slip away into the one who now stood before us was heart-breaking. But his story needed to be told – both to treasure his memory and to help others in a similar situation.

At the end of the book, I’ve tried to gather together some of the things we learned from dad’s experience. Firstly, you can easily slip through the cracks in the system. When dad was diagnosed, he was referred to the memory clinic. Once they could do no more for him, they referred him back to his GP. And if you don’t like visiting the doctor, they have no need to check up on you again, so you end up floating around in the ether.

Also, there are allowances you can claim for, and our council had a dedicated team to provide assisted living aids such as grab rails to make your house safe and dementia friendly clocks and phones. Also, in hindsight, if we hadn’t obtained Power Of Attorney for dad, a complicated, difficult journey would have been unfathomable.

A Few Book Reviews

“When I began reading this book I expected it to just be a story about how the cruel disease of Alzheimer’s affected one family. But it was much more than that; it could have been my family’s story and that of countless others. Lynnette’s open, humorous and candid writing, touched me to the core and I felt that I was with her every step of the way.”

“This truly is a brilliant book and as far as I am concerned the best of its kind in the market. It made me realise that I am not alone in my thoughts and feelings and also in what my dad is going through. I, too, have an inner demon which at times makes me feel terribly guilty but I now realise that others go through the same thing and the same feelings.“

“A beautifully written story about one man’s life blighted by Alzheimer’s. Sensitively written without being maudlin. Humorous and insightful. And so honest. Suffice to say that I was in floods of tears by the end!

A fitting tribute from his daughter to a man who was very obviously wonderful and much-loved.”

Lynnette Lee

Slipping Away Lynette Lee Memory Cafe Directory
Available on Amazon

Lynnette’s book, Slipping Away: One Man’s Battle with Alzheimer’s is available on Amazon.







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