Single mum seeking advice/support for teen sons whose dad has early onset Alzheimer's

Discussion in 'Younger people with dementia and their carers' started by Londonmum, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. Londonmum

    Londonmum Registered User

    Jan 9, 2015
    Hello - Thank you for reading this.
    My sons are aged 18/16 and their father (my ex husband), 59, is diagnosed with probable early onset Alzheimer's. He lives in the US. I would really appreciate any advice in how to support them through his decline, please.
    The 18 year old has deferred his start at university in the UK to be able to spend time with his father this year. His father has a carer for several hours a day on weekdays, cannot drive and has not worked for more than two years.
    The 16 year old is studying for A/S levels in London and just came back from seeing his father for two weeks over Christmas and New Year. He told me that his father is noticeably worse than when he saw him in the summer. For example, my son says his dad asked him 'the same question ten times in ten minutes', needs help doing 'everything in the kitchen' and on the last day of his trip got him confused with his elder brother. This last detail has upset my son a lot, probably because he is worried about his father ultimately forgetting who he is. (This was his first fear when his father told him four years ago that he had been diagnosed with a cognitive disorder.)
    I would like especially to hear if you have any recommendations about whom to talk to (support groups and/or family counsellors) or what to read about how to help my sons through the inevitable continued decline in their father's health.
    My younger son is saying he doesn't care any more about his A Levels any more and wants to leave school or move to the US to be near his father. He is missing his brother and also says he is worried that his brother, who loves to please, will get drawn into being his father's carer and feel obligated to come home every evening and look after his dad instead of 'being a normal teenage boy'.
    I have explained that I don't want to do or say anything that could be construed as trying to dissuade or block my 18 year old from spending time with his father. I have supported his decision to take a 'gap' year and go to the US to be with his dad because I never want him to have regrets about not going while it was still possible.
    I am more concerned about whether my younger son should somehow be in the US or whether it is better for him to remain stable at school here in the UK and continue to go to see his father in his holidays.
    Does anyone have any experience in dealing with a similar situation, please?
    Thank you
  2. sistermillicent

    sistermillicent Registered User

    Jan 30, 2009
    I see you have had no response yet and although I am not in the same situation as you I would suggest that you go and see someone senior at your son's school, they will know who are good counsellors in the area (though your son will only benefit from this if he wants to see a counsellor). I know, because my children did it and I work with young people, that it is quite common to suddenly not want to do A levels any more, though not usually due to having a parent with dementia.

    Is it possible that anyone in the US could persuade your younger son to stay at school for the next year and a half? Reassure both of them perhaps that their father is being cared for and that they can spend lots of holiday time there with him?

    My friend goes to the states every month, it's expensive but she does it, would it be possible to let your younger son do this?

    These are random thoughts and may be quite useless to you, I just wanted to respond somehow.
  3. Londonmum

    Londonmum Registered User

    Jan 9, 2015
    Thank you

    Thank you Sistermillicent. I appreciate your reply.
    I have been in touch with son's school -- last week -- and have set up meetings with his form tutor and asked the pastoral care/medical centre counsellor to meet with me. I have tried to reassure him that he should follow through with his A levels (as you rightly suggest, there are often a number of factors that cause teenagers to become disenchanted with their courses and also the burden/tedium of studying).
    I have suggested to my son that I could try to find a way of taking him to the US in the Easter break and/or February half term. I think there's more than one factor at work making him lose interest and want to be in the US rather than here.
    I'll take it one step at a time.
    Thank you for taking the time to write.

  4. EmmaThrace

    EmmaThrace Account Closed

    Apr 17, 2013
    #4 EmmaThrace, Apr 13, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 14, 2015
    Hi London mum,

    My father was diagnosed with Pick's disease when I was 16.
    Though, sadly, he passed away December 2013, I have come out the other side a stronger person.

    My heart goes out to you
  5. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    I missed your posts the first time, sorry. Your younger son should certainly do his A levels first and then take a year if he wants to go to the States. It is so much harder to pick up your studies midway at this stage whereas if they are completed you have ready made entry to Uni.

    This is a tough time for the boys and I wish you all well.
  6. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    Radcliffe on Trent
    #6 Pickles53, Apr 13, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
    From an academic point of view you are right Marionq. We lved in the states for quite a few years and my daughter was in high school there until age 18. The systems are just not compatible; with her American high school diploma (based on 4 years study from 14-18) she qualified for a UK university and with A-levels your son may well be eligible for a US university but it would be very tricky with a mix of both to meet the requirements in either country.

    University undergraduate degrees are also structured very differently. Students must study a much broader range of courses for at least the first two years, whatever their specialist area is.

    If your younger son goes to the USA now he's effectively delaying his education and therefore future career by at least two years. In some circumstances that might be the right decision but I'm doubtful that this is one of them.

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