The following is an excerpt of an article, “Daughter reflects on father’s Alzheimer’s condition during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month,” which was originally published in the Fallbrook Village News. To read the article in its entirety, click here.
Having a parent with Alzheimer’s disease brings forth many emotions in children and grandchildren trying to provide care for their family member. It’s hard to explain those emotions to those who have not been touched by this devastating disease, but in this article, Fallbrook resident Kim Nye shares some of her experiences in helping her father, Harvey Nelson Short, 85, who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. The timing is right as November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.
“I used to think I was ‘aware’ of Alzheimer’s disease,” explained Kim Nye. “I knew an astounding number of people had it and that they numbers were growing.”
“I imagined someone unable to recognize their family and how sad that must be,” said Nye. I would also imagine someone losing their wallet and thinking someone stole it or people wandering and getting lost. I heard about the plaques in the brain, but beyond that I was pretty clueless.”
“My dad was officially diagnosed last February with Alzheimer’s disease,” she explained. “He began to unravel at an alarming rate, [and] we had to take his car keys last January. There were signs of increasing negative behavior for years, and what my brother and I thought were normal aging memory issues.”
Nye’s father had an engineering degree and was a computer programmer by trade. “He was smart, but last January he was unable to make the oatmeal he had made every morning for more than 40 years,” she said. “He went through at least three coffee makers, claiming they were broken.
“From January to March, my family tried to manage my dad,” said Nye. “We lived in fear of what my dad would do. Text messaging became essential, so that whoever was with my dad could relay what was happening without my dad knowing.”
Nye goes on to explain,”I understand why people don’t want to talk about the ‘crazy’ that comes with Alzheimer’s. They want their loved one to keep their dignity. But maybe if my family had known more about Alzheimer’s disease we would have been better equipped to deal with it.”
“There is no treatment/cure for Alzheimer’s disease,” she said. “In the beginning, all the doctors said that they needed to get the right “cocktail” of medications to manage his behavior. My dad has been or is on anxiety medication, Prozac, anti-psychotic medication, and medication for epileptic seizures.”
After trying other memory care facilities in the area, Harvey Nelson Short is now living at the Silvergate Memory Care Suites in Fallbrook. “He is in a good place emotionally. Being able to take him out of the facility and do things is something I had not imagined possible just a few months ago.”
“The motto at Silvergate is ‘where every day matters.’ My dad has almost non-stop activity,” explained Nye. “He has exercise classes, arts and crafts, scenic drives, and the list goes on and on. He is actually thriving at Silvergate. We treasure every moment now.”
To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, visit alz.org.
For more information on Silvergate’s Memory Care Suites, including accommodations, services and more, click here.