You stupid fuck, she has Alzheimers: VENTING

Dear Stepdad:

When you called this morning to talk about my mum’s condition and I was working and didn’t have time to chat, I assured you I would ring back in the early afternoon. When I called and MUM answered the phone, she told me you’d gone down to town to get the newspaper. Hey, no great shakes, but leaving my mum on her own…even for a few minutes…might be a recipe for all sorts of disasters, but hey, whatever. A quick trip to town should be ok…

So I rang back tonight, 7 hours since the last call, and my mum answered the phone again. My mum never answers the phone if you are home, it’s your task mate. Mostly because she’s also as deaf as a post and can’t hear it, but tonight she was tucked up in bed with the phone right next to her ear…she heard it.

And apparently you were down the street getting the newspaper still. She had no idea where you were. :frowning:

Yeah, I panicked. Rang your mobile and got messagebank. Rang my sister (who I LOATHE) and rang your mobile again. I started envisioning you collapsed in one of the paddocks, kicked by a moo-cow or bogged in the well. Or maybe just having a silent heart attack in the loungeroom, out of earshot of mum AND the phones…

Rang one of your rural neighbours (thank god I have a good memory for names), who gave me the surname of one of your OTHER neighbours (yeah, I’d forgotten HIS name hadn’t I?? :smiley: ) and I rang Ian and LO AND BEHOLD, you were there having a quiet Saturday night drink. :mad:

Please don’t leave my mum alone at home. Please don’t leave the house without your mobile to be contactable. And please never, EVER try to excuse your behaviour by telling me that you had told her where you were going, so everything should have been fine.

You stupid fuck, she has Alzheimers. She doesn’t know what fucking day it is. She is rapidly losing her grasp on who her own children are and even who YOU are. How in the hell do you expect her to remember where you’ve gone, even if it is only to the next-door neighbours (a good 10 minutes walk away btw, rural acreages etc).

You and me are going to be having words in the morning mate.



I know that’s not helpful, I’m sorry. But Alzheimer’s is such a terribly sad thing. My Dad had the garden variety dementia (at 85+) and that was bad enough.

Your stepdad needs a serious waking up, and perhaps someone who will come in for the odd hour or two to sit with her when he goes out.

Very scary situation, I agree, but is he supposed to never leave the house? Sounds like he needs help for some periods of time from being a caregiver 24/7. That’s a really tough situation all around. Do you live close enough to offer some respite?

This. He really can’t be the only one giving her care if she’s truly that bad off. Nobody can do such a thing.

I suspect the vent meant not that Stepdad should never leave the house, but that he needs to make sure someone else can be there when he goes out, even if it’s only for 1/2 an hour.

Absolutely. There are people you can hire to care for her while he’s out, and it’s his responsibility to make this happen. A tragedy can happen in a few minutes. Not only are Alzheimer’s patients’ memories affected, so is their judgement. What happens is she starts a pot of tea while he’s out and forgets the flame’s on? A fire starts and she can’t remember how to call 911? What happens if she goes looking for him on a winter’s night without a coat or shoes? And then can’t remember where she is and wanders away with no ID?

Feel for you, kambuckta. My mother has Alzheimers and my father is the same way. He still expects her to be at his beck and call, gives her instructions (make me a sandwich!), then interupts her while she’s doing it (bring me my nebulizer!) then gets mad when she fails (dammit, Jan, where’s my sandwich!!!). Yeah, yell at an Alzheimers patient, dad. Nothing helps short-term memory like being afraid of you…

if i’ve read this right it is a rural home with livestock. the stepdad has to be out of the home for amounts of time through the day even though still on the property.

getting a caregiver in the house at needed times may be difficult or impossible.

the severity of the mother is the issue. if she has trouble recognizing family then remaining in a familiar environment may no longer be of value.

if the stepdad needs to remain at the home then can the home be made safe (dangerous things like controls for gas appliances, electrical devices) be made unavailable to her. loud alarms on doors when exiting.

there are solutions, like a nursing/retirement home for people with this condition, which may not be possible economically; can the stepdad and children pay for this. there are solutions, like spouse and children becoming full time caregivers, which alter others lives for many years in a drastic manner.

often there are no easy solutions.

That’s just inexcusable. Have you talked to your dad about this? I’d be on him like white on rice.

I don’t believe “talking” would be the word I would use, but yes he knows my opinion on his behavior. He doesn’t care. He believes she does stuff to piss him off. He holds her to a standard she can no longer meet and then punishes her for it. He believes I cannot possibly understand how hard it is for* him* to have to live with her.

Try not to judge, too harshly, someone unwilling to acknowledge the fullness of your Mom’s condition. Denial of decline is very strong in partners. Keep in mind he’s with her more than you and may be able to spot a ‘good day’ better than you. Also, try to muster a little compassion for someone who may want to get out for some normalcy now, knowing that the near future may involve never getting out.

It seems like the road ahead will only get rockier, try to keep some perspective, this may not be a hill you want to battle over. Should he have had is phone? Absolutely, you should definitely impress that upon him. But tread gently, it’s not going to help your Mom for you to become embattled with her husband, just as difficult decisions will be arising. You don’t want him to be shut off to your opinions, become hard headed or reactive to you, instead of coming to his own difficult realizations. These are difficult times for him as well, causing a big old fight is only a way of everyone avoiding the real issue. And anger the person who, very likely, gets to make the choices, as the spouse. It will only make things way worse and big ugly.

Try to imagine what it would be like to see, the person you love most, declining in such a way. Will you be as accepting, when your children come and tell you something about your spouse you’re not ready to accept yet? Would you be open to being chastised by them, when you’re around them everyday and ‘know’ better? Think you’d be willing to end their independence and face your life without them, before you believe it’s time?

I’m not saying you’re wrong, just to tread carefully, this isn’t going to get easier, after all.

And good luck!

just wanting to point out that you only have your mothers word that he was gone for an extended length of time. She is not a reliable witness as to how long he has been gone nor if he was actually gone both of those times and all of that time. gone to get a newspaper sounds like a default response.

Exactly. Being that its “Mum” what is the OP doing to contribute other than nagging the Stepfather she clearly has other issues with.

My sympathies on your mom’s condition, kambuckta, but I think you’ll get more constructive responses on this if I move it to MPSIMS.

I agree that “he’s gone to get a newspaper” may be what Mum says when she simply doesn’t know; Step might have told her where he was going. But he was gone–kambuckta tracked him down at somebody else’s house, having a drink.

Do you have a community care package in place to help stepdad out?

D doesn’t let me out of her sight. Even checks on me in my sleep. (I sometimes sleep in the next room because my tossing and turning keeps her awake).

I no longer drive, because I’m prone to make mistakes (pull out in front of someone, fender-benders in parking lots, etc.)

Yeah, Mr. Stepdad, wake your sorry ass up.

In case you didn’t realize it, you are the caregiver, godammit.

Hope this improves for you and your Mom, kammie!


Thanks for the replies folks. Last night when I posted I guess I was feeling scared for what might have happened. And yeah, I agree that my stepdad has the most unenviable job in the world: he has on occasion called us in to care for mum when he has needed to be away, and I wouldn’t swap places with him for quids. He certainly was NOT gone all day. He had come home from getting the paper and some groceries after the earlier call, and had then later gone next-door after dinner to catch up with the neighbour. I was more worried that something might have happened to HIM (being uncontactable via his mobile) and that my mother wouldn’t have had a clue that anything at all was awry.

In his own words this morning though, my mother is rapidly declining. She is a ‘frequent flyer’ at the hospital for the many falls she is taking, unable to care for her own personal hygeine needs any more (and suffering recurrent infections), and so vague about ‘things’ that my stepdad found her taking a swig of dishwashing liquid the other day to quench her thirst. She needs to go into full-time high dependency care NOW, but he is a stubborn old fart, and wants to make my mother’s final months/years as happy for her as possible. Except in the process, he is making his life hell, and hers a danger.

They are having a new home built in a larger town which will be ready by Easter, thus they are leaving their farm-home of the last 30 years. Stepdad seems to believe that this will improve the prospects for my mum, a nice new shiny house helping to stem her mental and physical deterioration. I think he’s dreamin’.

Anyway, thanks for listening and all. My best wishes for those who are in the midst of similar dramas in their own families (and you too Quasi :slight_smile: ).


He sounds like a good guy, Kam. He may not get it right every time, but at least his heart is in the right place. You must be glad your mother has him - and your post was an entirely understandable reaction to the fright you got last night.

Wish your mum had an easier road ahead of her. Dementia is cruel.

Oh, and yes, he can afford to have her placed in a high-quality aged-care facility. In fact last year (in a moment of clarity on his part) she was admitted to one, but she was so upset about not being able to ‘go home’ that he took her out after a few weeks. I thought at the time he hadn’t given her enough time to adjust, that eventually those new surroundings would have become familiar to her, but he was adamant.

She was also in respite care for two weeks recently after a hospital stay, but again was very keen to get back to her home: given the circumstances, I think a couple of days every couple of weeks (or however much is needed) would be appropriate as an ongoing plan.

And he was getting home-help/nursing/brief respite three times a week, but cut that down to just once a week. I dunno if he was just being a tight-arse about the money or what, but he really does need that ongoing support. I live app 80km away and work full time and don’t have the resources to be a reliable co-caregiver…with notice I can be there if the stepdad needs to get away, but not on short-call.


He probably is (in fact if anything the disorientation will likely make things worse), but it’s an understandable dream. I can’t imagine how it would feel to consign my life-partner to a residential home. You kind of expect you might need to with your parents, but not your spouse. It’s a grim situtation all-round and you all have my sympathies.

He may be right. When my Granny was losing her grip, she became extremely bad-tempered, but only to those closest to her. Evenif she isn’t bad-tempered, it must be terrifying to see your previously intelligent spouse end up like that. Maybe it is easier to believe that she isn’t trying than to accept that this is the best she can do and that’s only going to get worse.