My father's decline has gained a horrible momentum in the last several months. There is a theory put forth by his doctors that he is suffering from numerous small strokes. They believe that it is not the Alzheimer's or dementia that is causing this crash into complete helplessness, but dementia aided and abetted by the lack of blood flow that causes strokes.
It doesn't really matter, the effect is the same. Last week he forgot how to walk. He moves his right foot but them does't know what to do with his left. You have to lean over and move it forward for him. he forgets more words daily, the exact opposite of a Toddler's language explosion. When I watched him for my stepmom last Sunday, he didn't know what yogurt was, even though he has it almost every day for lunch.
He is moving into a dementia/Alzheimer's care facility on Friday because my stepmother can no longer take care of him. Thank goodness, because I just don't think I have the stomach to help my Dad pull his pants up after going to the bathroom any more. Even though he is almost completely out of it, you can still sense his embarassment. He was a very modest man. I'm so glad he doesn't remember the feeling for long, because few things have made me feel worse than my father's shame.
When I got home from his house the other day, I talked to my husband about it. We talked about having a pact to put one another out of our misery if we ever get to that point. But what is that point? My Dad still knows who his wife is, and who I am. And he still occasionally gives a weak laugh. But I think he has passed "that" point. He can't walk, he can't really talk, he can't remember the words to ask what the score of the baseball game is. He loved baseball. He loved politics. He loved film. All gone.
I have a friend who has talked to her own father about what "that" point is. They agreed that when he no longer cares about the Washington Husky Football team, it was time. This is a friend who had to schedule her wedding around the Huskies away game schedule.
So it's gotten to the point where I really want my father to die. But I also don't want him to die. I know it will be so much harder when there is no longer a warm body there. It's strange, I've started to speak about him in the past tense, because he is no longer alive, really. And yet, and yet...