Learning to accept the effects of Alzheimer’s

Lisa Wurth

May 9, 2011

Patricia Calder recently shared her story of caring for her aging father with The Globe and Mail. He is afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and sometimes doesn't remember her. He certainly doesn't remember his finacee from two years ago, who passed away from cancer.

However, Calder also notes that there are still glimmers of his old personality that make her appreciate his sense of humor just as much as before.

During her youth, Calder's father was the "breadwinner" of the household and a strict disciplinarian. He rarely ever wanted the children to see him when he was sick – such as when he had prostate surgery – and had never told them that he loved them.

But Alzheimer's disease made him more tender and compassionate.

"In his prime, my father was always one to dominate the conversation. How often I resented his endless storytelling, corny jokes, teasing and lecturing," Calder writes. "Now he was finishing his days as a quiet man, listening, lonely and hungry for the sound of our voices."

Families who are concerned with the safety of a parent with dementia may want to consider installing a senior alert system. This device can be used to instantly send a medical alert if assistance is required. The role reversal during caregiving can come as a surprise to many, and these kinds of innovative, caretaking devices can help a parent and child come to a compromise between independence and safety.