Processing Dad's dementia at age 23

Discussion in 'Welcome and how to use Dementia Talking Point' started by Nieks, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. Nieks

    Nieks New member

    Nov 8, 2019
    2
    Hi All,

    I'm desperately looking for advice.

    In 2017 Dad had a massive stroke which onset dementia. He was admitted into a rest home and we essentially lost him overnight. For the first time last week he forgot who i was. I've moved back home with mum to be closer for support but seeing Dad every weekend is really hard. I have absolutely no idea how to do this.

    Whenever i'm around him i feel like i 'shut down'. Emotionally i just cant handle it. I don't know how to connect with him and if feel like my heart breaks every time i see him. Then i'm cold and distant and make myself feel even worse for wasting any precious time i have left with him.

    Im only 23 and feel like i have no one to relate to. No one in my life has died before so i'm also prepping for the unknown. I don't know how to handle this. Ive seen a few councillors and i get a lot of "thats really sad and its going to be ****" and "try and enjoy the time you have with him" but its not that easy! Im not shutting down by choice.

    I need help - any and all advice welcome!

    Thanks so much :)
     
  2. nae sporran

    nae sporran Volunteer Host

    Oct 29, 2014
    6,019
    Male
    Bristol
    Welcome to the forums @Nieks. Sorry there's little advice I can offer you, counselling and CBT have worked for me and it is sad it didn't help you. My granny started to deteriorate when I was in my late 20s and that was hard to take, so I can sympathise.
    You will find help, advice and support here from the many people who are going through similar trials.
     
  3. Nieks

    Nieks New member

    Nov 8, 2019
    2
    Thanks so much @nae sporran, i really appreciate your reply. Its such a relief to find an appropriate platform to discuss such personal feelings.
     
  4. kindred

    kindred Registered User

    Apr 8, 2018
    2,255
    My goodness, sweetheart, how can you enjoy the time you have with your dad. That is a big denial of your perfectly normal shock and horror and emotional stress. This is one of life's toughest situations, with you all the way. Shutting down is a form of protection, you need to do this to survive emotionally.
    Yes, you do need to make the best of your time together - basically, say loving and appreciative things, no matter if there is no response, just say them. It will help you feel better later on. Do not feel that you need to make your visits long.
    with love and fellow feeling, Kindred.
     
  5. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,735
    Kent
    My father died when I was 29. We weren`t close so it was easy for me to let my mother and sister take charge of the caring.

    If you are close to your dad, and it sounds as if you are, it must be devastating to have this overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, not knowing what to do or how to do it.

    Your time with your dad will be full of anxiety and apprehension. Even so, if you can sit with him and hold his hand, I`m sure he will know you are there. Perhaps you could wipe his face with a warm facecloth to help him feel fresh and comforted. There are many small ways you can help your dad and this way help yourself.

    Keep posting on the forum. You will be well supported here.
     
  6. Pete1

    Pete1 Registered User

    Jul 16, 2019
    184
    Male
    Hi @Nieks, when my Dad first started displaying dementia symptoms and also had physical impairments I was 26 years old (which I find hard to believe now). He wasn't at the stage your Dad is for sure, but I found I had great difficulty accepting the situation and who Dad now was, and of course none of my friends had any experience of such a situation so I never spoke of it, it was only my girlfriend at the time that knew the 'before' and 'after' picture. I can remember I felt very envious of my friends and their fathers too. Looking back on it I wasn't really emotionally equipped to deal with it and Mum took a lot on her shoulders. But like you I felt overwhelmed by the situation and my 'new' Dad (although I still had glimpses of the 'old' Dad) that now sat before me, Over time I developed a different relationship, and as Dad deteriorated and was in Residential Care I used to have a number of same discussions with him on shared topics, usually about the team he used to take me every week to watch, but also about his life as a boy (which strangely he could always remember well) - my Mum used to say 'what do you talk to him about?' I used to say, 'the same things, every time pretty much!!' A lot of these conversations were the same ones week in week out on a loop, but he got an awful lot out of it. I can also remember the first time he didn't know who I was - that was tough, but it does get easier.

    I think what I am trying to say (in a long winded way!) is that you need to think about your Dad in terms of who he is now, and work out how you can get to know him in a different way with topics that he can relate to - some of this will be trial an error but you will find a way. It took me a long time to do that by the way. So just be yourself and don't worry if sometimes you can't speak as it is too overwhelming, you are still there for your Dad. Stay strong and keep posting.
     

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