Dad was diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease (LBD), a form of dementia, in 2001.  Although he became increasingly confused and frail, he was always the kind and soft-spoken gentle man we knew as dad.

 

Behavior changes occurred gradually.  Always outgoing and talkative, dad would sleep more and eat and drink less.  Rarely did he initiate conversation.  Responses became single syllable words.  Dad became less engaged and disinterested in exercising.  Having always taken pride in his personal appearance, he was less inclined to shower, shave, brush his teeth or comb his hair. 

 

There were periods  when dad wandered.  We did not know about these episodes until he was safely back home, but they were frightening experiences that our mother and brother dealt with for several years.  We were fortunate in that dad always managed to run into helpful people...teenagers who sensed that something wasn't quite right and took him to McDonald's for a Coke; policemen and EMTs who came to know him by name; neighbors who were aware of his challenges and even a bus driver and shopkeep who alerted police to a man in need of assistance.

 

Mom served as his primary care-giver for over 13 years.  As she aged, it became increasingly clear that she needed some assistance taking care of dad and managing the house.  There were increasing loads of laundry each morning, a bed that required frequent changing, a dishwasher to load and unload, garbage cans and recyclables to get to the curb, washing and ironing that required attention, meals to prepare...plus routine tasks such as paying bills, correspondence, medical appointments, household maintenance, grocery shopping, etc.  After a decade, we finally convinced her to get some help.  In 2011, a care-giver began visiting their home six hours a day, three days a week.  In 2013, that was increased to four days a week and finally in 2014, the caregiver was there 6 out of 7 days.

 

As time passed, dad needed help waking up in the morning, getting into and out of bed, eating and showering.  He sometimes used a cane or a walker.  Some days he would sleep for 20 or 22 hours.  He was increasingly confused about where he was.  Getting nourishment and timely medication became a very real challenge that mom had to deal with every day. 

 

Dad seemed to find great comfort in viewing old family photos, reading old Christmas cards and listening to the music of his generation.  He enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, picture books and some television shows, particularly game shows.

 

Mom developed the ability to enter his world because increasingly, he had difficulty being a part of ours.  We were thankful for the good days and treasured the memories we had of our much loved and respected dad.  And we were tremendously grateful to mom for the compassionate care she provided and the many sacrifices she made. 

 

 

In Memoriam

 

James L. Dalgarn

April 13, 1924 - January 23, 2016

 

A gentleman and a gentle man

 

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