One of the most critical things we have learned in this journey through Alzheimer’s is that change causes stress and stress progresses Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, we did not realize that in the early stages and truthfully, we were not yet even aware Alzheimer’s was a factor. I don’t know if we would have changed what we did even if we were aware of how it would affect my father’s condition.
Many events took place in the first few years of my marriage that worried and stressed my parents. Most of the events had nothing to do with me and therefore were not part of MY story, so I won’t write about those. The first major change that did involve me was when I went back to work after having a child.
My parents agreed to watch my child while I worked. It did not seem to be too much for them. My child was around a year and a half at the time. It was a great experience for all three of them. They had bond that was very special and my child has definitely benefited from it. Yet it was stressful for people over 70.
We also began construction of an in-law suite because my husband and I were going to buy my parents’ house and they would live with us. It was an exciting time, but it was also a stressful time. Anyone who has lived through construction would understand the difficulties involved in making sure everything is progressing on schedule. Add to that the stress of caring for a toddler and a dog and it becomes a little much.
As I have said, my father was very intelligent and he was an engineer. I think we have had some type of construction project completed on a regular basis for my entire life. My father was no stranger to construction. He could run the electrical wiring, the plumbing, and any other aspect involved in building an extension. The only trouble was he was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. It was at this point when we started to notice the changes.
My husband would stop by the house after work and help with some of the construction. There were professionals hired for the jobs that the laws required licensed contractors, but we did much of the work (I say as if I did anything – that’s funny!). It was at this time certain things happened that we look back on now and realize were signs.
Dad would be insistent that he had done something that had not been done.
He would measure things incorrectly.
He would keep asking for things to be done that had already been completed.
My husband and father had difficulty working together during this time. I am having trouble putting words to the difficulties they shared. I think it best to say they both had ample construction experience, and they were both quite capable. The trouble was my father was not capable of doing the work properly because the synapses were not making the connections.
It was a very difficult experience and the stress probably progressed the disease. However, I don’t believe we would have done anything differently other than understood what was happening. After all, it really was beneficial to be in the house for my parents in the following years.