My father, JHP, JR., doesn’t know me anymore because he suffers from three forms of dementia: vascular, senile* and alcoholic. Every aspect of my relationship with my father has changed since he was diagnosed in 2008. Together, separately, and often begrudgingly, my sister, father and I have struggled with facing it, dealing with it, managing it, and adjusting to it. We’ve faced realization after realization about who he was, is, and may become as a result of the degeneration of his brain. It’s been the journey of a lifetime that began with a stroke that led to a car wreck that led to my return to my father’s life, as a caretaker.
While watching my father go through the mental, emotional, physical and cognitive changes brought about by dementia, I began writing informative articles about the topic. Writing served as a way of keeping the information at arm’s length, while I struggled with reconciling my previous estrangement from my father with my need for a father.
A lot of tears have soaked the fronts of many of my shirts. My father and I have sworn, yelled, and said nearly every horrible thing a father and daughter can say to each other. We’ve gone from what can best be described as the obligatory acknowledgments of our biological relationship to truly caring for each other.
This blog will hopefully serve multiple purposes. I hope to express myself openly about the confusion and struggles because, frankly, sometimes just getting it out makes it all better. I hope to provide hope to other people who feel confused by the symptoms and manifestations of whichever form of degenerative brain disorder they are encountering in their family members. And I hope to offer hope, support, and encouragement where there seem to be none.
Also, I will update the Links page regularly in the hopes of providing information from reliable sources that complements information in my blog posts. As anybody who has experienced watching the cognitive demise of a loved one knows, many issues arise that families might never have considered possibilities before the diagnoses. I hope my insight and experience, along with information provided through the Links page will help pave a smoother path for you and your family.
Thank you for reading,
Lucy Parker Watkins
*Apparently the physician who diagnosed JHP, JR was unaware that the term “senile dementia” is outdated because researchers have found that dementia is not a normal part of aging. For more information read A Brief history of Dementia.
In honor of JHP, JR., retired Attorney-At-Law, who taught me to CYA, I offer readers the following disclaimer:
Please do not mistake any of the information on My Father Doesn’t Know Me as medical or therapeutic advice. All of the information contained in this site is based on Lucy Parker Watkins’ experiences, personal research and advice she received during the course of her father’s treatment for dementia.