(TL;DR at the bottom)
As a preface, I’m 18 years old and I just graduated from high school. My dad is 70 and has moderate Alzheimer’s. My mom died years ago, so it’s just the two of us living together.
This year has been the worst year of my life. I spent New Year’s Day in the hospital with my dad after he had a serious psychotic breakdown. He was in the hospital for about a week and required 24/7 supervision to make sure that he didn’t try to leave the hospital room.
Once he was discharged, it was obvious that he would need constant assistance with eating, taking his medicine, and literally everything else. The original plan was for me, his girlfriend, and his family to all assist in helping him, but that plan didn’t even last a full day. His family completely abandoned him and it’s been me and his girlfriend taking care of him ever since.
The most disturbing thing to me is how quickly he deteriorated. Last December, he was able to drive, cook for himself, shower, hold conversations, etc. But now he hardly has the strength to get out of bed. I’ve known two other people with Alzheimer’s but they didn’t deteriorate nearly as quickly. (He also has cancer and takes chemo, which might have caused his Alzheimer’s to progress so quickly but I’m not sure).
I’ve had to sacrifice so many things because of my dad. I had to give up a scholarship to a college out of state in order to stay and take care of him. The deadline to apply to the college in my city has already passed, so I’ll have to start school next semester. If he gets COVID-19, he WILL die. So I have to be extremely cautious about where I go and who I hang out with. This means that I can’t go to the gym or hangout with my friends, which are my biggest coping mechanisms other than smoking (which I also had to stop doing because I’m having surgery soon). I was hoping to finally start working but now I have to consider where I work and how often I’d have to interact with people, but early all of the jobs for 18 year olds require social interaction.
And to make things worse, I’ll be out of state for 11 days for top surgery. I’ve waited my entire life for this surgery and waited nearly nine months for a surgery date. I’ve already packed my bags, bought the plane tickets, booked the hotel, and payed for the surgery with pretty much all the money from my own savings account. My friend who’s staying with me has already bought her ticket, which was hard for her to afford. I was able to find people to take care of my dad while I’m gone, but I had to beg and bribe them to do it. Regardless, canceling is NOT an option.
His girlfriend told me that she wasn’t going to be around after July (for whatever reason), so now it’s just me. I’ve considered moving him into a nursing home, but that wouldn’t work for several reasons. Financially, he has $3000+ that he owes for his cancer treatments. He had to take out a $4000 loan to get the AC fixed because the heat was becoming unbearable. He gets a retirement check each month, but it’s not much. Also, the process of moving him into a nursing home would be long and difficult because of the pandemic. They’re not allowing any visitors so I wouldn’t be able to visit him very often.
TL;DR: I’ve had to sacrifice a significant part of my youth in order to care for my dad. I’m more depressed now than I’ve ever been in life. There’s no one who wants to help. I have no one (especially my age) who can relate to what I’m dealing with.