Thursday, August 17, 2006

92 Day care disaster & in the news

Yesterday was my dad's first and last day in the Alzheimer's program at the senior center. He lasted 2 hours and was asked to leave.
My mother said as soon as she pulled into the parking lot he started screaming at her "you bitch I'm going to get you for this, you're going to be sorry". I wonder if he thought she was putting him into a home?
Evidently he refused to listen or do anything that was asked of him, he stalked around instead of sitting with the others and was just generally a brat--6 instead of 66. By 11:15 (it started at 9:00) he was home again. My mom is so angry. I am too. I wanted her to have those 15 hours a week to herself.
In the news, a high-copper high-fat diet contributes to cognitive decline.
A high-fat, copper-rich diet may increase the risk of cognitive decline in older adults....Food with high copper levels include organ meats (such as liver), shellfish, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, potatoes, chocolate and some fruits.
My dad cuts the fat off his meat (and the char marks) but then he pours gravy on the de-fatted meat, drinks the gravy, and drinks the high-fat salad dressing. But he also eats a LOT of shellfish--clams and shrimp mostly. He eats potatoes and peanut butter.
Among those who consumed the most saturated and trans fats, cognitive function declined more rapidly with the more copper they had in their diets.
"The increase in rate for the high-fat consumers whose total copper intake was in the top 20 percent (greater than or equal to 1.6 milligrams per day) was equivalent to 19 more years of age," the study authors wrote.

It was a six year study. 19 years of decline in 6 years. That is SCARY.
But I know I wouldn't be able to get my dad to stop doing anything he does now. I could tell my mom to stop letting him eat clams ("shells" and shrimp and peanut butter, and not to drink salad dressing or gravy anymore. But she won't tell him that, and even if she did, he wouldn't stop.
Just like he won't stop farting and rarely acknowledges that he did it.


Anonymous said...

Alot of my own father's resistance to adult day care was based on one man - a perfectly innocent fellow Alzheimer's patient. My father, for whatever reason, would take one look at this guy and get so angry it would be difficult to get him to go inside. He never participated with the others. He never was part of a group. Instead, he would follow the director around, acting like her boss.

What helped acclimate him to day care was our constant presence in the beginning. We would go in with him, as if we were all going to spend the afternoon. And actually, sometimes we did. These fellow Alzheimer's patients were as wonderful as my own father, and also deserved the best. I learned a lot by watching how others with this disease functioned.

We would also go in to check on him. ALWAYS check on them. Never assume that all is well. Remember, they have no voice, no way of telling you if something is wrong. Can't call, can't remember to tell you, can't understand if something is acceptable or not. And MUCH can be wrong. Feel the place out, spend time there, drop in unexpected with or without your father. Don't believe anything you hear, instead, believe what you see, what you smell, what you intuit. Train your gut to listen, and then trust it.

Don't be swayed by the fact these are "wonderful" people dedicating their lives to caring for the elderly. Many times the self-proclaimed Alzheimer's experts were the very ones who had the least understanding, the least tolerance and the least creative approach to a disease that is constantly shifting the ground under our feet.

I will say it over and over and over again. We are woefully unprepared to deal with this disease. Experts especially. I learned to trust people who had been through it with a loved one, and can spot that person in a crowd now. Those are the voices we need to hear. Not the academics, not the people who get paid to show up. We need to listen to the people who show up because they are bound and tied to a loved one's suffering.

Go visit this day care on your own. Pop in at lunch. Go in with your dad, just for lunch. And let him get acclimated - s l o w l y - it could take weeks - to the surroundings, the people, the process. Stay a few minutes longer every day until he won't feel so frightened when he turns around and every face is unknown.

I believe much of my father's combativeness had to do with fear. How to alleviate that fear is very, very difficult. He would scream at his own reflection in the mirror or window, wanting to fight "that guy". We resolved the issue by painting all of our mirrors with latex paint, and lived in a home with no mirrors for about 6 years. Strange, but not undoable. Although there was more than one occasion when I was a bit surprised what I looked like when I left the house.

Not to sound simplistic, but there are no situations too difficult to resolve, but it's really hard, takes determination and incredible patience. You are starting a long journey that will teach you more about love than you'd ever think you needed to learn. At least that's what happened to me.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for pointing out the study on copper. There's an interesting discussion of metals and dementia at

Karma said...

At my mom's "memory care" assisted living facility, all they have to eat at night is peanut butter on toast.

There's got to be another day care center somewhere. Maybe the next one will be better?