13 days to Beijing: Dad and Dementia

This is a picture of my father and my nephew, Nathan. It is probably from 8 years ago and it shows the playful nature of my dad and captures his spirit well.My dad has dementia.

We aren’t sure if is caused by Temporary Ischemic Attacks or Alzheimer’s Disease.  In the end, it doesn’t matter.  Actually, at this point it doesn’t really matter.  We can’t do anything to slow the progression or help him remember more than about a 5 minute span of time at this point.

I took my dad to get an MRI today.  The doctors wanted to see how his brain is adjusting and if there were any major changes since his last one in 2009.  It was nice to spend some time with him and watch as he smiled and remembered who I am.  He still has that ability, which is wonderful, because I’m fairly sure he will not have any memory of who I am when I return in three years.  We joked a bit and we enjoyed being with each other.

My dad still has a strong hold on the distant past but not of the recent.  Because of his memory issues, his life is primarily lived in the present moment.  This can be wonderful because each second is new and interesting.  However, most the time, it is not that experience for my dad.  Imagine if you had forgotten the last five years of your life and now were trying to retrace every moment, in present time, without understanding what you were doing five minutes ago.  It is like the movie Momento without the fun and intrigue.  It is, primarily, a sad and fear-inducing existence.  I’m grateful my dad was able to enjoy most of our time together and that we were able to have some wonderful moments during this visit.

It will most likely be my last time I see my dad and it will be, for me, a wonderful memory.  I hope, somewhere in his mind, it will also be a wonderful memory for him.

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