My father-in-law has Alzheimers; last Friday, he moved into a residential home.
We've just spent the afternoon piecing together photos in clip frames, hoping that they might trigger some memories for him.
On the one hand, it's wonderful to be able to go through all the old pics. Nanna, FIL's mum, wrote on the back of nearly every photo she possessed, (some of which go right back to the turn of the 20th century) so we can tell who's who and what year - most of the time.
On the other hand, it's pretty heartbreaking to know that FIL might not recognise too many of the faces we've picked in the not-too-distant future. He does seem to remember the distant past better than the more recent stuff at the moment, so we live in hope for a while longer...
We're trying to group photos in the different frames so that there's one from FIL's childhood for example, one from his first marriage (to Mr Squidge's mum), one for each of his sons and their families, and another from his time with his second (current) wife. And we're making a map of who's who in the frames, so staff at the home and visitors can perhaps use the information to initiate conversations.
We've also been researching easy-to-use music players, as FIL used to love singing and has been a member of several different musical theatre and singing groups over the years. A few weeks ago, he burst into word-perfect song when a CD of Pirates of Penzance was playing. So we're planning to develop a playlist of music from the musicals too - a sort of personalised sing-a-long, if you like.
It's a difficult time for Mr Squidge, not helped by the fact that FIL lives in Yorkshire - a good two and a half hour drive each way from here. I think he feels pretty helpless - it's not like he can pop in every few days to see how things are. I think the photo collating is allowing him to feel like he's doing something - anything - to help keep his dad his dad a little longer.
It's a sad and horrible thing to deal with, but we're not alone in dealing with this kind of situation.
So...I'm going to finish this post by sending digital hugs to any of you reading who are in the same boat and caring for someone with dementia, whatever stage it's reached.