Growing Old Ungracefully

Despite wanting to remain positive and the numerous articles about growing old gracefully, I do not think that growing old is a graceful process, not when you have dementia and a bit of alzheimer’s.

Not when you begin to lose your dignity and confidence because you cannot handle simple daily tasks any longer. Not when bathing becomes scary to you and you no longer know how to button up your shirts and unzip your trousers. Not when you start having urinary and fecal incontinence and you have to start wearing diapers like a baby. Not when you have to allow your daughters to help you wear your diapers because you are embarrased you keep on wetting the bed.

Dad’s condition has deteriorated to this now. Sister will be away on holiday again for two weeks so dad will be coming to stay with us for a week till Christmas before going to stay with brother for another week till the New Year.

We’ve got ourselves some Christmas presents, books and toys and CDs and a wallet to replace my broken one. We wrapped them all up even though we already know what they are. Silly, but fun anyway for the kids. Even the maid has got two story books all wrapped up but what shall we get dad?

Hubby said that a digital photo frame would be a good idea. We could store pictures of the kids in there for him. I wonder if those digital photo frames comes with batteries. Will have to check it out. Its very sweet of dear hubby to have thought of this. I am touched. He is the caring “sai sum” (thoughtful) one between us two. I am the airy head one who doesn’t give much thought about things, well, not as much as him anyway.

I have discussed with big sis and I think I will get my maid to sew velcro straps onto his trousers to help make things easier for him. I feel sad because we can’t take him out to jalan-jalan and makan-makan as much as we would like to now because of the fecal incontinence.

I hope that when he is with us, he will have at least one good day when he reverts back to his old self and we have old dad back for a few hours instead of the quiet dad we now have. Dad used to be so chatty and clean but now he is quiet and he won’t bathe and change anymore and now he has incontinence. Poor poor dad.

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  1. Annie Tan says:

    Hope we do not get to this stage….My paternal grandma did the opposite. She’ll go to the toilet very very often, sometimes can stay in there for 4-5 hours waiting for her “business”. My mom modified the door lock, so we can open from outside.
    She sometimes couldn’t recognise us. We have to tell her our name, then she can remember (but remember us as kids lar). Dun mention greatgrand kids. She has no idea even though the greatgrandkids stay with her. I thot of making a family org chart for her, with our photos & name. I hope it will help her to remember her family members.

    Its sweet of you to think of the chart. I guess there is no harm trying.

  2. Elaine says:

    My recent experience in caring of my PIL really leave some impact on me. It’s sad to see that when they have their own home to stay, but during the sick them they have totally lost their own freedom. Not to say we want to treat them like a ball, but they have been moving from one house to another to suits our schedule. They have to totally rely on us to bring them out. There was even one occasion in the hospital when my FIL was ill and no one is around, he had to get my help to dress him. I feel sad in this case that he has to lost his dignity to let his DIL to help dress him up.

    Hub and I often said that we want to just get an apartment for ourself for old age and not trouble the kids. I just hope that we will age gracefully.

    I know what you mean about the ball thingy. Sigh.

  3. michelle says:

    Most digital photo frame comes with a power cord. By the way, a notebook also can act as a digital photo frame. 😉

    Yeah, my home pc also acts as a digital photo frame too because we set it to display the “My Pictures” folder when at rest.

  4. henny says:

    MG, I felt just like the way you felt now at first to see my mom condition. I found the harder I tried to make her happier (di ukur dengan keadaan kita sekarang yang masih sehat) the worst she got for her comfortable due to her condition now (alzheimer stage 3, the last stage) and the sadness I’ve got for my own. Now I just let all the things flow naturally and try to help her and (myself) simpler our life. Sometimes small things that I never had expected could make her happy. Like when the nurse told me to buy small cotton teddy bear doll for mom for her activity (she always hug and never separated with Teddy after that).
    Last wednesday the elderly home made a christmas mass and party and all the patients and their family celebrate together. It was fun. Although my mom always shut her eyes after the priest ask them to pray (never open again till the end of the mass because she didn’t understand now many simple order, like openyour mouth, stand up, etc..)
    We’re very lucky to get a homey elderly house for mom
    with very patient nurses and very nice and good surrounding. For the first 2 years of her disease she stayed with me, but along the way it was very difficult here to get home-stayed nurses for alzheimer. I could understand this situation, because if only 2 nursesto take care the samealzheimer patient soon they could depress and boringtoo, but in a group of caregivers at an elderly house they can make a schedule to take care by turns.
    It has never been easy for me to “lost” my mom, until now. Wow…too much writing eh?!
    Take care…and have a great Christmas with your Dad.

    Thank you Henny. I hope you have a Merry Christmas too. 🙂

  5. anony-mouse says:

    I sometimes wonder if for the aged, Alzheimer’s is really a blessing or a curse. With Alzheimer’s, there is, I think less (or less consistent) awareness of their conditon (vis loss of dignity thru incontinence and other dependencies). In the end stage, when memory is all but gone, they are spared such emotional pain. Thus while loved ones feel keenly the pain of ‘losing’ their parent (along with the strain and commitment required to devote time, resources and love) ignorance can be bliss, at least for the patient.

    From the (non Alzheimer’s) aged person’s viewpoint, awareness of one’s own deteriorating physical, mental abilities can be really hard as well. There is the psychological pain of dependency and sense of ‘burdening’ one’s own family and also when seeing sadness in their eyes of their much loved children. Which is why everyone has a desire to grow old gracefully.

    However, for those of us in good health, with age (should) come(s) maturity. We can choose to see opportunity even in adversity. I myself have an aged mother with declining health and the usual aging syndromes. Having accepted the reality, (yes, acceptance is really hard) I have come to the realisation that it is much more helpful for both mum and I to view adversity as opportunity. As adults, we seldom realise how far we’ve ‘grown away’ from our parents. How different we are now from when we were kids. How often do we as adults speak to our parents of our hopes, dreams and fears? This is a time for us to rediscover our parent-child relationship, while learning the valuable lessons of humanity that illness brings.

    But what happens when you have to now undertake a role reversal, what happens when you now have to parent your parents?

  6. anony-mouse says:

    May I add to my comment that, for those with young children, this difficult time might also present an opportunity for them to learn precious lessons of love and concern for the eldery and for those stricken with illness.

    Yes, however, sometimes, with very young children, you have more questions than answers. Sorry, I’m being rather pessismistic today. Nothing to do with your comment. 😛

  7. Martini says:

    sorry to know that this happened to your dad. It’s not an easy job to take care of him.

    Have a great week with your dad!

    Thanks Martini. Will try my best. Will try my best.

  8. WMD says:

    When I saw my grandma slipping in further with Alzheimer, I went through similar thoughts like you. It chills me to think on how I will be next time as I aged.

    Have a great Christmas with your dad and Take care.

  9. KittyCat says:

    Your post reminded me of the last month I shared with my Dad before he left us forever.

    I can understand how you feel but you’re only having your Dad for a month. Your sister has been caring for him all this while? She needs a break too…

    When I lost my Dad suddenly, I’m so, so, so heartbroken that I can no longer even make a cup of Milo for him or hear him scold me or stare at me in admonition again.

    Although many people say that it’s better that he left early without too much suffering or being a burden, I disagree because my son and nieces have lost a Grandfather.

    My Grandmother is an alert, active and admirable old lady but none of her living kids are taking care of her (too far, too busy, too superstitious). Interestingly, my Mum now lives with me and is one of these kids.

    Whatever reasoning we come up with, these old folks ARE our parents. As a parent myself, I find that I’ll only regain MY life probably only after my kid is 12 years old.

    That’s about the minimum no. of years we should put up with our old folks, I feel.

    As Anony-mouse apts puts it, this is a golden opportunity for the kids to witness the process of aging because it WILL happen to everyone.

    You’re a wonderful teacher, MG, and I’m sure you’ll be able to guide them on this lesson on life. Peace be with you and a Happy New Year.

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