Crisis mode, month 9

I’m not sure what’s worse: my mom’s constant agitation and “crises” or my dad’s reactions to them.

I can’t quite seem to get him to understand that having Alzheimer’s means that by definition she will be getting upset about something on a regular basis…maybe even daily. He therefore cannot go into crisis mode–and expect me to do the same thing–every time she calls him up and complains, cries, rants, etc. It doesn’t help her because all it does is draw increased attention to the issue at hand, usually an imaginary one, making her dwell on it and stay upset even longer. And it sure as hell doesn’t help us much. I honestly can’t live this way much longer and may have to stop answering his phone calls unless there’s a real emergency. The problem is that I never quite know for sure.

I know it’s hard for him. He’s a more dependent person than he’d like to admit and he’s not sure quite how to behave without my mom around. He will not stop asking her advice about the bills even though this confuses her terribly and gets her even more upset because she doesn’t understand them. And he basically has nothing to do but sit around and obsess about things all day long, but he’s completely uninterested in finding something else to do. God knows, if anyone ever needed a hobby…

He’s making things so much worse by constantly going over there and dwelling and harping on whatever she’s ranting about rather than trying to calm her down and change the subject. Or even worse, he argues with her about it. Then he calls me to discuss it for a half hour or so or to suggest very subtly and passive-aggressively that I drop whatever I’m doing and try to clean it up…but only if I “feel like it,” of course. Lest it sound cold, though, I do have things to do other than sit around and obsess about Mom, especially about relatively small things that neither of us really needs to worry about (nor can do much of anything about) to begin with. How can I make him understand that going to pieces over the small stuff will basically do nothing but make us too exhausted to deal with the big stuff when it comes up?

I hoped that having her in the assisted living facility would help make his life easier too, but he won’t let them take care of the simple things despite all the money he’s spending so they can do just that. And he has this knack for waiting until she’s relatively calm and then deciding to mention just the perfect thing to set her off again. I know it’s better now that it would be if she were home where she could and would wander off and he wouldn’t be able to catch her. I shudder to think what a nightmare it would be for everyone if she were home.

But I’m only slightly less terrified to answer the phone now than I was back in November and December. And that sucks.

Sorry for the venting. I don’t plan to make it a running theme.

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