Saturday, December 4, 2010

Caregiving.Com Holiday Party

I'm participating in Caregiving.Com's holiday blog party!

Although this blog is mostly about my rescue work, it's undoubtedly about my life in general ... which includes my father who is suffering from frontotemporal dementia that was finally diagnosed almost 2 years ago now.

My initial post for the Caregiving.Com Holiday party ended up being very lengthy. It was overwhelming for me to see, so I can only imagine a stranger coming across it. I decided to take that initial post and break it up in order for it to be less intense and more informative. I'm hoping to make my blog very educational this week since, like I say in my post, this condition still seems to be fairly unknown to a lot of people (I had no idea it existed until my dad was diagnosed). I'm hoping this week and blog make that a little less likely.

My dad became noticeably different several years. Initially, he was diagnosed with depression - get him on antidepressants and exercising. However, it was quite obvious to anyone that knew him that this was not the case. For example, after a night or two with my dad’s best friend since high school, even his friend was saying my dad was totally gone ... and he didn't know if we'd see him again. It was about 6 months after that that we got an actual diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia.

It is very hard to find people who relate because this seems to be a fairly newly known about disorder. Also, because it mainly has to do with the personality and emotions, it seems to come about and be very different in each individual patient.

I’ll be honest. I'm not one of those happy, positive, productive caregivers either. I'm not there yet. I'm not sure I will get there, honestly. I want my dad back too bad. I want him back! The fact I'm not getting him back breaks my heart and makes it terribly hard to care for him as well because it's not like I'm caring for my dad due to his disease, which has stripped his personality away, it's like I'm forced to care for a stranger. I see him, he looks fine, but it's just his shell and that makes me start all over again - this isn't fair, this isn't right, this is too much. It's a horrible circle.

He's wandering a lot now. We can't even just lock up the food anymore either. He's been eating brown sugar then sugar then flour by the spoonful. Who would think he'd break into the cooking supplies? That’s not even "food"! The TV no longer distracts him either and he often does not want to do the simple tasks we set aside for him either to try to keep him active and productive around the house ... do the kitty litter, take the dogs for a walk, rake the leaves - these are things he either says he's done (and hasn't) or just flat out refuses to do. It's an adjustment for everyone since this now requires us all to keep a much closer eye on him and he's much more secretive and sneaky too because of it.

Please check out my mom's blog too if you can. It's rarely about FTD, but it's about the farm which she loves and uses as a her "stress relief" ... though sometimes with things breaking it certainly doesn't seem relaxing!! :)

For all the caregivers stopping by, thank you for all you are doing. I know how hard it is. Enjoy your holiday and the good moments that come up during it.