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No smiles from Dad; he wasn't feeling too well.

A new side of my dad is emerging. His Alzheimer's has advanced to a point to where he is in a more irritable mood and he's slower to smile. And it's breaking my heart.

When I got home from work today I discovered that daddy had soiled himself. No problem, I've helped him get cleaned up before. But this new, belligerent dad wouldn't let me help him to the shower. He even threatened to punch me if I didn't get out of his way. I tried to make him see reason but he wasn't having any of it. He repeated his threat.

I gave in and helped him into some clean underwear, shirt and pants and he crawled into bed. I went into my bedroom and called my husband, crying and feeling pretty sorry for myself. I don't care what anybody says; it's hard for me not to take daddy's rejection and threats personally. His lack of loving responses and smiles, when they were given so freely before, hurt.

I know he's confused. I know it's the diseases--both the Alzheimer's and the renal failure--that are making him act this way. I understand that he's not to blame. But he's my Dad. He was my good friend. It's going to take me a while to adjust to this new version of him.

The hospice nurse and nurse's aid came by a little while ago. They managed to get Dad into the shower to clean him up. While the aid finished bathing Dad the nurse sat with me in the living room and answered some questions I had about his mental changes.

She (I'm sorry! I forgot her name!) explained that a lot of times an Alzheimer patient will have a mood change (generally for the worse) after an illness; for example, pneumonia. It's just how the disease progresses. She was sympathetic when I told her about my concerns and honest about what was happening to Dad. She didn't try to sugar-coat it.

I understand what I'm facing now. I don't like it one bit. What I mean is, I don't like that my Dad is not the sweet, loving dad I used to laugh and have fun with--the one I came to know. But Robert and I decided over 7 months ago to take care of Dad for the long haul and we're not backing down now. We will find a work-around for this. We are a team.

I will try to take comfort in knowing that Dad is in a safe and loving environment living with us. I'll make sure he's clean and well-fed. And whether he likes it or not, he will still get a hug from me and a kiss on top of his confused little old head.