Its the school holidays and dad is staying with me for a week while sis goes on a holiday with her family. Dad has stroke related dementia. I think his condition has gotten slightly worse. Previously we had trouble getting him to take a bath. Now he won’t even change out of his clothes.

We had taken him out to dinner on Sunday night for an early Father’s Day treat because its hard to get everyone together at the same time. After dinner, he came home with me. He slept in the same clothes he went out for dinner with. He wouldn’t change into his sarong even though I held the sarong out to him and persuaded him at least 3 times.

By Monday night, he was still in the same clothes. He also hadn’t removed his socks. “Pa, you need to change your shirt. Why don’t you wear this T-shirt which is more comfortable.” He shook his head stubbornly.

“Well, at least remove your socks Pa. You’ve been wearing it the whole day.” He shook his head again and said “I’ll wash it when I get home.” (to sister’s place) “You can’t do that because you’re going back only in a week’s time. I’m washing clothes tomorrow, Pa. Please change your shirt. Wear this T-shirt. Its more comfortable.” I persisted.

“No, I like this shirt.” he said. “Well, I like this shirt too. I bought it for you. Let me wash it first, then you can wear it again tomorrow if you like. You can’t be so unhygienic. You’ve got to change your clothes, Pa.” Now his expression turned defiant and he said “Don’t force me to change clothes.”

I let out a big sigh and walked away. What to do? I don’t know. He has not had a bath for 2 weeks now. Sister sms to inform us before we met for dinner. I had hoped to get him to take a bath while he is staying with me but I couldn’t even get him to change his clothes or remove his socks.

Its Wednesday now. He is still wearing the same shirt but at least he changed into his sarong after our conversation about the socks and shirt. I noticed he has removed his socks too yesterday. He wouldn’t take a bath but he would use a tissue to wipe his face and neck. He does this all day. Wiping with the tissue and rolling them into big perfect tissue balls made of tissues stuffed in more tissues. Sometimes he doesn’t wipe. He just rolls the tissue balls. I saw four maybe five balls in the bin yesterday. When I saw him doing this in the morning, I hurriedly went to get a warm towel for him to wipe his face. At least he didn’t reject that.

I’ve taken him to the bathroom before, brought his towel and turned on the shower only to have him tell me “You show me also no use. I won’t bathe.” Then I tried to get a pail of warm water and a towel and put it in his room for him and told him to wipe himself with that. He did not touch it.

Its very hard for us to manage him. He is our dad. We need to be firm with him but at the same time we can’t belittle him and treat him like a child. But what to do when he won’t take a bath for weeks? We have tried talking to him or tying the bath with occassions so far the occassions thing seem to work. “You have to bathe because we’re going out to…..”

I wish I knew a little bit more about how to handle patients with dementia. I wonder what goes on his mind. I wonder what he is thinking. I wonder what he is feeling.

Most of the time he is still alert enough to play with the kids and watch out for them. At other times he looks completely lost. He struggles with handling gadgets, not only gadgets but things like buttons, snaps, straps. Things that most of us take for granted like removing our shirt buttons or wearing our shoes can be difficult for him which is probably why he resists it I guess. And sometimes he does not know what to do next. “Eat/Sleep now is it?” he would ask.

He has good days and bad. On the good days, he will be like his old self again but then he will go into high gear wanting to do everything that he used to do. He would take a bath then and even wash the toilet! Go to the bank, the laundrette, and all the old places he used to go. Call big sister or my aunts up in the early morning or in the middle of the night to chat. It would be as if the months that passed in between did not happen for him. Once on a good day, he went to the laundrette to collect some clothes he had left there for washing 3 months ago on another good day. On those days it will be as if his brain is working overtime making up for lost time. He may not sleep for up to 24 hours scaring us and then after that he will sleep for the entire day and be back to his new quiet self. 

I feel as if I’ve lost half my dad after his stroke a few years ago which left him with dementia.

I’ve been too busy this school holidays to blog. I’ve been sick. First with some infection then now with a cold. Its so draggy this cold. The kids want to do every craft and lesson with mum during the holidays so I’ve been busy with that too because I promised them. We’ve made castles on a card, bracelets, rings, paper fans etc. Normally I would take pics of them and post them on my parenting blog but I just don’t have the energy or time to do that now. And then theres dad to watch too.

As usual my housework is down on my list of priorities so the house is covered with dust. I really must do something about that before I discover another rat. Blogging has also been pushed down to the end of my list. Oh well, there are other things that matter but I do miss visiting my friends in blogosphere. And then theres my exercises. I MUST do them for health’s sake not for beauty but I have lagged using my cold as an excuse. I WISH I HAD MORE TIME,  MORE HOURS IN A DAY! Fortunately I have an understanding husband who closes one or perhaps both eyes to the dust and helps me by packing food home for dinner more often. Poor dear. I’ll get on top of it soon. I’ll try my best.

Oh gosh this post is getting long and draggy like my cold. I’m just going on and on and on. It must be blog withdrawal syndrome. I should stop here.

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