“I need to get outside,” my 81-year old father turns and announces as he swings his arms back and forth standing alone in the middle of the garage.
He’s holding a broom, grinning from ear-to-ear, after my mother called from the basement to report him missing. He drops the broom to pull up his pants, which tend to slip down his small frame from time to time because he doesn’t notice they’re unbuttoned.
“Let’s go this way,” I direct him and open the side door that leads into the backyard. Squinting in the light he shuffles through the garden to the porch and sits down.
“Dad, where were…?” and then I stop myself. I try not to ask my father questions anymore, but it’s not easy. I had to be taught.
“Questioning your loved one with Alzheimer’s causes confusion, frustration and anger,” our instructor told the 12 of us who’d gathered to figure out how to manage our parent, partner or ex husband who was morphing into a different person, “because as the plaque and tangles increase in the brain, they clog the memory centers.”
So instead of questions, I make statements. If he doesn’t like my suggestion, he’ll change it up.