We’re not ready to lock up my dad with Alzheimer’s. But we’re hiding the knives

We’re not ready to lock up my dad with Alzheimer’s. But we’re hiding the knives
Top Stories
“We have to hide his knives,” I tell my brother as we stand in my dad’s one-room apartment in a Toronto retirement home.

“And his nail clippers. And his scissors. And his X-Acto knives. Because he’s gonna wake up tomorrow, forget what it is and cut it off.”

We’re talking about my dad’s new radio bracelet, a sophisticated (and expensive) piece of tracking tech designed to pinpoint his location in the event he becomes lost while out on his thrice daily walks.

And as we discuss precautions to ensure its survival, I gradually become aware that he’s standing next to me, taking this all in, aware his kids are discussing his well-being as if he’s some sort of inanimate object — like a table.

Ah crap. For all my progressive virtue-signalling and affinity for buzzwords like “agency” and “consent,” I’m the same insensitive clod I’ve always been.

My dad, it should be pointed out, is three and a half years into his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, with no cure, is a ticking time bomb for the rapidly aging baby boom.

And as his short-term memory continues to erode — a drib here, a drab there — it’s become easier for me to pretend the guy who taught me how to throw a ball, ride a bike and print in impeccably rendered block capitals won’t be embarrassed by blunt descriptions of his cognitive state.

Truth be known, the way I’m talking about him now — in the third person while he stands beside me — is pretty much the way I’ve talked about him, in my intemperate, half-joking way, since I was a teenager.

But now it feels different, more consequential, important to get it right.

Alzheimer’s can do that — yank things into perspective.

Yes, he’s still engaged, marching to his own drum, a perennial 12-year-old whose whimsical approach to life helps temper my own natural cynicism.

But how long, I wonder, till the memory-gobbling Pac-Man in his brain clamps down for good?

How long until this disease with no known cause or cure, that affects one-third of people over 85, wreaks havoc on his easygoing, ferociously independent personality?

It’s this aspect that’s most troubling, as his kids struggle to respect his autonomy while keeping him safe.

“Lock him up!”

That’s the suggestion from the professionals overseeing his care, who don’t know him well but profess great concern for his safety.
Read more on Toronto Star
News Topics :
Top Stories
Martin can recall, all too clearly, the day he received the devastating diagnosis of advanced Alzheimer’s. He went straight from the consultant’s office to sit in Westminster Abbey, trying to...
David Milch, the veteran TV writer and producer behind shows like NYPD Blue and Deadwood, says he has Alzheimer’s disease. He made the revelation while talking to Vulture about Deadwood,...
I wanted to know why, even though I knew. It’s there in his book, after all. Jay Baruchel became a Montreal Canadiens fan because his father — his drug addicted, alcohol addicted,...
Wearing a black shirt with “Fight for your happiness” on the front and “Sick not weak” on the back, Daniel Carcillo eats an apple as his wife makes a cappuccino...
I work as a journalist by trade. That generally means I spend my days researching topics, talking to my sources to get information and weaving all of that material together...