Alzheimer’s is Not Easy For Anyone
– Kim Golodner, co-founder, Who Stole My Pockets
You’re probably wondering what’s with the name “Who stole my pockets”? My father had Alzheimer’s and could no longer care for himself. He lived in New Jersey and there was no one there to care for him. My husband and I decided to have him come live with us in Florida. I thought the logistics of getting Dad to Florida was going to be the hard part; I was so wrong.
When he first moved in, I kept expecting to see the Dad I remembered. I was sure all he needed was time to adjust to his new home. How could he not love being with us and begin enjoying his retirement? The man who moved in with us was not the Dad I knew and loved; it all seemed so unfair. I vacillated between anger and sadness for months after he came to live with us. I felt cheated because I had hoped to get to know him again and I wanted my children to make grandfather memories with him. The scenario I had in my head was not to be, but we made new memories, we learned to reconcile our expectations and find ways to enjoy what time we did have with him. Admittedly it was not always easy, but I’m so grateful for the time we had with him.
Caregiving is Often a Roller Coaster Ride
Our name comes from a particularly poignant moment that made me realize I had to find a way to embrace this roller coaster ride or be thrown off. One morning dad walked out of his bedroom to confront me with “WHO STOLE MY DAMN POCKETS?” I was stunned, it was too early, I hadn’t had my coffee yet, and the kids had to get ready for school. But there he was, angry at me and wearing a pair of pants that clearly no longer had pockets.
Stealing a Man’s Will
A disease that takes over a man’s will, a man who spent 30 years in the military and retired as a Major. Someone who worked into his 80s and had the best work ethic I have ever seen. I struggled to make sense out of why my Dad did things like cut the pockets out of his pants.
Almost from the moment he walked through our door, I realized that Dad barely recognized me and just getting him adjusted to this new environment was not going to be easy. We had to make many modifications to our routines and house to make it safe and comfortable for Dad.
Is There Going to Be An Inspection?
For a long time, I wondered what would make my dad cut the pockets out of his pants. Not long ago, a friend in the military thought my dad might have cut his pockets out because of loose threads he spotted on his clothing. As part of my Dad’s long military career, he went through many uniform inspections. According to We Are The Mighty, “To test service members, each branch holds uniform inspections in order to maintain military standards.” Loose threads, strings that detract from a squared away appearance could cause a failed inspection. It’s possible that Dad saw some loose threads and just cut the pockets out.
It’s Not Easy, But You Must Adapt
I would often come home from work and find fringe cut off rugs or leaves missing from plants. I adjusted to this by giving dad a basket of ripped up towels so he could spend hours cutting the fringe off and he enjoyed folding them afterward. This simple task made him feel useful and redirected his attention away from cutting everything else. Our family goal was always to maintain his feeling of worth and his dignity as long as possible.
For years I have wanted to share the things I learned after caring for my Dad. We made every effort to preserve his independence well past what seemed reasonable to some. To do this, we often had to modify the environment in unusual ways. I will be sharing some more of those ways as we go along.♠