Sometimes people find themselves caring for their growing children as well as aging parents. So long  as it is the routine concerns are the visits to doctor’s appointments, banking, grocery shopping,  church and family gatherings, a caregiver can do both.  In my own life, I started to care for my parents after they moved close enough for me to look in on  them. My mother had had a total hip replacement and her replacement was wearing out. My dad was  well into the middle of Alzheimer’s disease so whereas he had willingly given up his Driver’s License,  he no longer recalled that he had. When my mother fell and went into the hospital, my dad came to  live with me. His condition was such that it was unwise and unsafe for him to be on his own.  Having him sleeping on my sofa bed in my living room was at first only temporary. Dad’s Alzehimer’s  disease had parts to it which made me very tired. He liked to take long naps during the day, although  I stayed at home while raising my children, those naps meant he wandered in my house at night. And  he got into a lot of trouble. Early Alzheimer’s is where the forgetting is intermittent but much of your  judgment remains intact. So early Alzheimer’s is easier for a caregiver to cope with. At night time,  Dad would open my freezer and open cans of frozen orange juice as though he was eating ice  cream. But he could have easily turned on my stove. We started making plans for how to manage  with Dad but Mom wasn’t going to be able to walk for a long time.   We had a house constructed near them, just basically crossed the street. My mother who was  sensible didn’t like the idea of us all living together. But as her condition did not improve in the  hospital, we altered plans as the builder constructed the home to be a home for both of them as well  as my husband and our three sons. With all the care Mom would need and to keep Dad safe and  secure, we thought it would be the best thing. My mother’s condition deteriorated and she went into a coma. They had done another hip  replacement and it had become infected. She lost so much blood during trying to cleanse the  infection from the leg that it deprived her brain of oxygen. She became more mentally dysfunctional  than my Dad was. And then as I worked on a project for my church, my dad fell on me and in a few  days I learned the extent of my injuries: I was physically unable to lift very much and I have had many  back issues since then though not as severe. We had to place Dad in a nursing home. At the time  they had one for dementia patients and Alzheimer’s patients so it was a blessing it was so close.  My mother, before she bled so and lost her reasoning ability, had made a living will for the care of my  father so their finances were well taken care of. She made a living trust with the office of Mark  Thompson in Lancaster, CA. Dad had been temporarily at the nursing home after he had fallen while the doctor’s felt his  convalescence would be too difficult for my mom before her fall. This time after my injury, I saw how  very wonderful it was for Dad to be with people who knew exactly how to care for Alzheimer’s  patients. As I healed, I would visit and bring a portable keyboard to play for my dad and the other  residents of the nursing home. I sang too. Music stimulated my dad to want to talk. By the time of my  mother’s death (six months after her fall) my Dad no longer recognized her. He thought she was his  mother. I would bring him with me on my visits to see Mom but it was difficult in that he’d get so  confused in the bathrooms. I’d care with me cleaning supplies. When you are female and taking care  of an opposite sex parent, people can’t understand why you are in the restroom with your dad.  Fortunately, there were unisex bathrooms at the hospital where we visited with my mom.   The best book I read during caring for my dad was “The 36-hour Day”. It doesn’t sound like a  reasonable life. And I had very little time to read anything. My main concern before Dad fell on me  was to not lose concentration on my driving which could have hurt us all.    Not to say that there weren’t times when my dad lived with us that we didn’t have good times. Over  the summer when the new house was being constructed, the boys were all in Little League and my  dad loved going to the games. Happiness peals back the fog of an ailing memory better than a  medication. He helped carry the sporting equipment and helped ever so well with also eating the  pizza after the games.   I had the care giving issue on my shoulders alone but it was then also shared by my husband and  sons. My sister lived in Iowa at the time and didn’t move back to California until after both of our  parents were dead.  When I said that I depended upon my husband and sons, though we’d take Dad  for walks with the dog and my sons (my husband was usually at work), we all made conversation with  dad. Exercise is good for keeping oneself alert but it helps those with Alzheimer’s too be at their best.  And then I’d have to ask the boys to watch grandpa for a few minutes I had to go to the bathroom. I  would only shower when my husband was able to sit with him.  During that time, I didn’t check my mail without locking everything I could and with my stove and oven  controls in my pockets. Still, you can’t think of everything. I set one bathroom up for Dad and then the  rest of us used the “clean” bathroom. Dad no longer understood about toilet paper. And that is as nice  as I can explain it. I had invested in brown towels with three sons but that hid the grime of having  sons, it also hid things I wanted to see.  There are many things one does not expect when you are a care giver. I found out about an Alzheimer’s Day Care being run at the local Lutheran Church in town and there  was a bus service for Dad so he could go to “his club” a few times a week. This allowed me to shop  or to have a dentist appointment or eye appointment, etc. for myself or for the kids as well as to be a  parent volunteer in my children’s classrooms. I’d tuck Dad’s bus fare where the driver knew he’s  always find it in his left front shirt pocket. And if it wasn’t there, the fee wasn’t that much, so I’d  reimburse the driver when he’s drop Dad off. The bus was punctual so even in cold weather, we didn’t have to wait long and the drive always got Dad home on time without fail.  I didn’t find an Alzheimer’s Support Group at the time when Dad lived with us. But after we placed  him in the nursing home, I’d attend a weekly meeting. I was the youngest person there as all the  others who attended were spouses and not sons or daughters who lived there. Still we had much in  common: feeling that we were now parents and not a child or a spouse was common.  From the time Dad was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease to when he finally died of it, was  about fifteen years. I cared for him in my home about six months intermittently and about a year and  a half on a daily basis. Even though I wept bitterly having to put dad in a facility, I felt I had failed in  my responsibility to him even though I often walk with a cane and the wheelchair I keep in my  bedroom isn’t there because it is decorative. After I adjusted to Dad being away, I was able to catch  up with what I had put off doing in helping my sons with school work and science projects and doing  crafts with our local group of Royal Rangers (a scouting group similar to Boy Scouts but with our  church). At the time I cared for Dad and even after he went into a nursing home, I did not have a computer  which had much internet and even when we did get one, what it had on it for resources for caregivers  was exceedingly limited. But now there are many resources.   As we age, we become more sensitive to medications and they do not clear out of our blood stream  as quickly. So looking for lowering blood pressure with diet rather than with medication helps to stop  at least that much fog on the brain. My dad had both blood pressure and diabetic issues. He lost  weight and his blood pressure and diabetes were no longer a problem. The doctor agreed with me  that less medication or ideally, no medication, was best for him. What he did get was a daily aspirin to  help prevent stroke and a multiple vitamin. Both of these we provided to the nursing home to give  him.  Kathy Honeyman asked me to write this for her. And it has been a great pleasure getting to know both  Julie and Kathy Honeyman. These two are my angels, they are compassionate and wise beyond their  years. I have seen how much they do to help people in their time of need.  Please remember that no matter even with care at home, that may not always work eventually.  Knowing that there are very good alternatives where you can continue to be an active part in your  loved one’s life is important for peace of mind.  Julie and Kathy Honeyman can also help you find caregiver resources and other care the loved one  may need. During this time of change, finding a resource such as I found for my dad where he had  “his club” he went to, also allowed me to tour facilities and to see what I might have to do if I was not  able to care for my dad.  I had two of the greatest parents on earth. But God has given me two of the very best friends in Kathy  and Julie Honeyman.   They’ve also allowed me the privilege to create this website for them.  I hope you will discuss with Julie and Kathy all your options so that whether it is continuing care in  your home or eventual placement, you will manage all of that one step at a time.  Sincerely, Sally Bode