Dad Has Dementia

Week 2: The Honeymoon Is Over

Last updated: Jan 22, 2010


It's 4:15 on Sunday afternoon, and I'm feeling snappish. Very snappish.

Whereas he usually takes frequent naps, today Dad has been wide awake all day. And talkative. Very talkative. He has detailed his marital dissatisfaction in detail at least three times. We have attempted to phone my sister about seven times, but she isn't answering. We had to call seven times because Dad "didn't want to forget." He has asked me, at least once an hour, if I have to go to work tomorrow. (I don't.)

In a nutshell, I am overstimulated. And, I admit it: I'm feeling irritable.

Yet I realize it's all part of the whole settling-in process. I mean, Lee and I are two middle-aged adults who are used to living alone. Sometimes we talk. A lot of the time, we don't. We sit quietly and watch TV or surf the web on our laptops. In fact, right before Dad moved in, I told Lee the thing I would miss the most was our quiet existence.

I knew there would be a period of adjustment. So far, it's going pretty well. Lee and I have made significant lifestyle changes in order to accommodate Dad. Some of them are small things. For instance, we never used to eat at the kitchen table, like we do now. Instead, we sat in our recliners and dined in front of the TV. Unhealthy, maybe. But it was our habit.

We also used to be more cavalier about meal planning. I tried to plan a week's worth of dinners "“ and usually pulled off half of them. The rest of the time, we'd eat out. That's not practical with Dad. Worse, I don't get off work until at least 5:00pm, and Dad was used to eating dinner at 4:30. That means Lee "“ the man who can barely boil water "“ has been pressed into service as short-order cook, since he gets home at 4:30. (And he's doing an admirable job, by the way.)

Of course, we're not the only ones who have to adjust. The biggest adjustments have been on Dad's part. Leaving his home of 30 years and moving into a house he had never seen, without his wife, has been hard on him. Yet he seems to be doing a better job of adapting than I have. He told me just today (in one of his loquacious moments) how thrilled he is to be living with Lee and me.

And he told me just now how much he enjoyed today "“ because "it's so nice to have someone to talk to."

So, yes, my heart melted, and my snappishness "“ well I can't say it evaporated. But at least I was reminded again why we're doing this, and how much I love my Dad.

Even when he asks me, for the 13th time, whether I have to work tomorrow.