My father is one of 6 children, born 1932. Ex-cop/NYPD detective. Served in the Korean war.
He was not a doting father; living in his house was like the movie "The Great Santini". My mother finally left him when she was in her mid forties. He never remarried. He also drove us kids away with his tyrannical attitude.
Now he has Alzheimers and we need to start cleaning out his house. I have come across things that give me pause: He has saved many appointment books, dating back to his military and police duty. There are the most mundane notes in them, trivial stuff like if it rained, that he visited his sisters/brother, how much he spent at the gas station, that he stopped at the pharmacy. We also found 5 laptops full of notes on his daily spending dating back 20 years ($5 for Entenmann's cake, $2.75 for some pens). Just nonsense. Why hold onto this?
He has written his name on everything! Ladders, tools, old jars, even wooden rulers, have "Property of Joe Shmoe" on them. Nobody was stealing; he lived alone for the last 25 years. He also seems to love to write his own name. There are pieces of paper, lists, etc. where he just wrote his name and nothing else.
The freakiest thing is the number of self-portraits he's taken of himself. They span from the 70's until about 5 years ago. There has to be over 200 of them, in albums, drawers, framed, etc. He always took pictures while we were kids, and saved them in many photo albums and even still has slides. All these photos of him staring at the camera kinda make my skin crawl.
Is all this the sign of a narcissist or some other form of mental illness?
Depression-era child are often packrat/hoarders. The fact that he put his name on everything is also a remnant of his childhood.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (not to be confused with OCD).
Yeah r1 is right, my grandmother still has war time baths.
Psychoanalyze means to treat an individual with Freud's and Adler's theories of psychoanalysis.
He not only grew up during the Depression, he was part of a big family where he probably did not have many items of his own, hence the need to label what was his. Also, the fact that he was writing his name on paper in later years might have been part of his struggle with dementia/Alzheimer's and how he was losing his mind...just a theory. No idea about the self-portraits.
R2 beat me to it.
-is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
-shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)
-is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity)
-is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)
-is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
-is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
-adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes
shows rigidity and stubbornness
I'm with R5. I think he knew something bad was happening to his brain long before it was fact.
My Korean war vet dad wrote his name on everything... I've got a drill set and saw with his name on every imaginable surface.. He was also from a large poor family. I could wipe it all away with isopropyl alcohol and be done with it, but for some reason I don't Want to.., R.I.P. dad, you were very misunderstood.... : (
My dad was born in 1933 one of seven kids. Lived on a farm. Ate dirt when they didn't have food.
He hoards food. It even goes bad and he keeps it. My mom threw away some rancid meat he had in the freezer and he had a fit. He saved and saved. To the point where we did w/out a lot. Now he has to give it all away, it's too much. A while ago, he found a stash of cash in this dungeon he built under a room in the house.
He puts his name on everything. He put my name on all MY things. Crap no one would want to steal. If he could spray paint my car w/my name on it, he would.
He's a meticulous note taker. Luckily for me, it will probably make things easy when he's gone. No chance anything, i.e. a will, land ownership, property, will be misunderstood when the time comes. He wrote it all down.
I find I practice some of these odd habits.
R9, How could someone digest dirt, let alone eat it?
My Depression era uncle was worse than your dad, guaranteed. He finally wore something attractive. Yep it was his WW II military outfit, that had finally come back in style. Told me he was lucky, as the neighbor kids had to go to school in old newspapers, instead of clothes.
My sister visited and wanted a 2nd piece of toast. He actually shook the leftover crumbs out of the toaster for her. The juice tasted spoiled; Mr. Expert claimed it wasn't.
My girlfriends used to call me up when they had a bad day. They were already laughing on the phone, anticipating the stories I would tell them, complaining about dear old Uncle Lou. He never married; all of his girlfriends couldn't deal for very long with Mr. Efficiency Expert.
My parents were depression babies and they were at opposite ends of the spectrum.
My mom was typical. Our pantry was ALWAYS full of food. She went to work as soon as I was old enough to figure out how to put a key in the front door lock. She never used credit cards, never even had credit until she was forced to at aged 60 so that my parents could get a home loan. (Dad's credit was crap at that point)
Dad on the other end swung the other way. It could all disappear in a second, so why not live large. He never learned how to manage money and was always in debt. He inherited his dad's business and eventually went bankrupt. We lived well, but beyond our means. My mom died before him and when I went to visit him, he could never figure out money. I had to list him on my credit cards so he could get by and even bought him a car to get around. When he died, he left alot of debt.
Fascinating, OP. How bad is his dementia right now?
I don't know how dirt is digested. My grandmother told my mother the kids would scratch pieces of dirt from the adobe walls and eat it. My grandfather would leave to the nearest town for weeks to work or try and sell the little bit of stuff he grew like corn or beans. I'm guessing he didn't leave the family much to work with while he was gone.
OP here: He's mobile, he's not on any meds, but he doesn't always know that I'm his daughter. Sometimes he thinks I'm the nice coworker lady who brings him food.
On the down side, he's taken to peeing and pooping on the floor, inside the radiator enclosure, in a basket of laundry. He doesn't bath or wash regularly and gets belligerent when it's suggested he shower. He spends most of his time sitting in his desk chair, talking to himself and rearranging pens, staplers, coins, and things into piles. Occasionally, he'll say he has to go out to see his mother, who died in the 60's.
We let him go outside on his random "mystery errands", cause he gets aggressive when we try to keep in inside. Good thing is that his brain knows where he lives - he always comes back within 30 minutes. We got him an ID bracelet with our contact info on it, just in case...
When was he diagnosed OP? My mom has Alzheimer's also. My mom was always fastidious about her hygiene (and almost OCD about cleanliness in general)but this summer it's begun to slip. Her BO can be quite bad, yet she refuses to believe it and gets angry and refuses to bathe. (She does the morning with the rag routine. She used to bathe weekly in between. No more) My current struggle is to try to trick her into bathing. She's five years into her diagnosis.
His official diagnosis was about 8 months ago. However, we've seen the signs for about 3-4 years. It got to the breaking point in the last year -- he started going out of the house without his keys and getting locked out.
We tried to explain that he should stay inside cause he lost his keys God knows where. He would get angry and argue that he did have keys. He would then pull a coin out of his pocket and try to unlock the door with it. Then he'd get frustrated and more angry when it didn't work.
Now he has someone in the house at all hours, to make sure he eats and to let him back in after his "errands".
That is so sad :(
It must be a really hard to cope with, I used to think it might be one of the better ways of passing on.
But it must be such a headfuck.
OP, as someone who has had a family member with Alz. I have to say it's troubling that you guys still let him wander outside, based on the other symptoms you describe him having, not just for his own safety but others too.
Honestly, it doesn't sound like he should be living independently anymore, since he needs help to take care of daily hygiene and stuff.
You have my deepest wishes and sympathies. No one who has not had a loved one with Alz can understand how awful it really is. I hope to God that if I get it someday that I realize it while I am still mentally competent enough to get myself to a European country that allows euthanasia / dying with dignity, especially as a gay man with no kids, I won't have anyone to help me in the slightest.
Paranoia often develops in people with Alzheimer's. That may be part of what's going on here.
R18, In the US, we keep oldsters alive for years and years on machines, often in excruciating pain. So sad for those who remember their loved ones as stubborn, strong, and independent. As one friend once told me, (and he wasn't religious) "God isn't finished with me yet."
Then, when the pain got to great, and he couldn't face draining funds living in what he called the "warmed over death" of a nursing home, he said, "it's time for me to go, and I want to decide. Just like an animal would know when it's time to stop fighting, I'm a human being, and I should have more rights than an animal."
Paranoia is a standard part of dementia. Almost everyone who is starting to deteriorate mentally gets paranoid and afraid of thieves, probably because they lose stuff and think someone stole it. All the notes and things... I think his memory has been getting worse for a long, long time, and he dealt with it by writing stuff down so he could know what he'd done and what had to be done. That's actually a normal part of the aging process, everyone starts to lose a little memory in mid-life, and develops ways to compensate
So really, almost all of his mental problems can be attributed to dementia, which is a truly horrible disease. Well, everything but being an asshole when he was younger, some people are just assholes.
Sorry, OP. We only do brain surgery and kidney transplants on Datalounge.
Sounds like he had a slight to moderate form as Aspergers OP. I have an uncle very much like this, minus the self-portraits.