I sat across the table from my father-in-law eating dinner on a Thursday night at a local restaurant as I had every week, practically since the first week I started dating my husband, Greg. It was now 7 years later that our Greg had passed away after a brief illness. We decided after his passing that it would really do us both a lot of good if we kept the Thursday night tradition that Monty had started with his youngest son, my late husband, since he was only 7. I never dreamed that the time between Greg’s passing and this day that Monty would develop Alzheimer’s symptoms, but here was one staring me in the face but I didn’t see it right away.
Monty always insisted on paying, no amount of arguing would dissuade him. Always the chivalrous Marine, it was his duty to pay. Eventually I relented on my weekly insistence to take a turn. Being a creature of habit, he always paid with his credit card. Sometimes he needed help seeing the numbers but once I read the total to him, he took over with his pen and signed away. Always asking me what I think he should leave for a tip. This was the ritual that always ended our meal. That is until this week.
Out of nowhere, Monty decided to pay with a large bill. This went on for weeks. No matter what the total, he insisted on leaving the rest of the money as a tip. He loved eating in low cost American fare-style chain restaurants so the bill hardly ever came to more than $50. I would often protest what I perceived to be some newfound generosity that comes later on in life but he’d wave me off and instruct me to leave it. So I did.
The Simplest Changes In Behavior Can Mean Big Alzheimer’s Symptoms
The reason for his overabundant tipping became evident one day when Monty put down a $100 dollar bill for our $42 check and became agitated as I started to leave. He announced rather loudly that he still needed to pay the bill. I picked up his change from the table and showed it to him. “You did. See?” He looked at me and the change, obviously confused about what to do next. It hit me in the face like a punch as my mind rolled the tape of bill paying over the last few months leading up to today. The scenes flashed like a slideshow. “Are you having trouble with math, Dad?” His sorrowful, silent look away told me all I needed to know. This man who made a career as a civil engineer after his two war stint in the Marine Corps now couldn’t do simple subtraction.
I called my brother-in-law right away. He confirmed for me my concerns, Dad was having a lot of trouble with math and remembering things he always committed to memory. Our other brother on the other hand insisted that Dad was fine. “It’s just his medications.” If his medications hadn’t affected his memory before, why are they suddenly causing so many problems only in the last few months? He’d been taking these medications for years now. I watchfully paid attention to his actions when I was with him, observing how he had now become unable to read a menu and decide what to eat for dinner. He’d ask me what he should have or what he had last week and order it again. The simplicity of doing this helped him avoid the embarrassment of having to admit the things he couldn’t do any more. He was scared and so was I. He lived alone.
Asking For Testing To Determine What Are Alzheimer’s Symptoms
I was ever grateful to my brother-in-law for ignoring the denial of his older brother and getting our Dad the help he needed in getting a diagnosis. The diagnosis answered a lot of questions about his alzheimer’s symptoms and helped us understand what we could do to help Monty and what we’d need to consider going forward to care for him. There was a lot to decide between the 3 siblings and there were many arguments about care, the reality of his diagnosis, and what active role each of us would play in taking care of him.
Even though my older brother-in-law insisted that his father was fine, he moved in to take care of his dad, which was a good thing. Monty started forgetting that he had a lot of difficulty walking due to diabetic neuropathy and would often get out of his chair and end up quickly heading to the floor as a result. Monty also would frequently forget that he needed a foley catheter in place due to urinary retention and incontinence and seek to extract it from his body when he was alone!
As things progressed, we needed things like home health aides and visiting nurses. Physical therapy specialists came and went alongside oxygen tanks and medical supplies as he continued to deteriorate.
Lamenting The Lack Of Communication Was A Regular Occurrence
There were so many people helping Monty. He had doctors appointments constantly. There were often changes to his care plan and the communication between family members became like a game of telephone. He started to spend more time in rehabs than he did his house. What actually happened and what I heard by the time it finally came to me were usually very different things. Too much confusion over why things happened, why medication changed, why he was in rehab and for how long, and much frustration for all involved was a regular occurrence.
I can only imagine what it would have been like if we could have had a tool like eCare Vault for all of us to use. Simple things like the medical information that someone shopping for him would need to know. Someone very lovingly bought Monty a huge stack of TV dinners for the week, none of which he could eat because he was on a low sodium/diabetic diet. It’s the little things that mean a lot. eCare Vault would have let us all communicate together in one place. We all would have known what was done and why.
Monty passed away in his bed in his home, just like he said he always would. We were grateful that he was granted this one last wish. We can only look in the rearview mirror now and tell those in the future how to make it easier on themselves and their loved ones. eCare Vault can make all the difference in care and family relations when it comes to a loved one developing alzheimer’s symptoms. Communication is key to a good relationship. eCare Vault is the key and the lock on all your loved one’s precious information.
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