When we started talking about preparing for the holidays, my daughter exclaimed in excitement, “Let’s make this a holiday to remember!” I almost broke down crying, because I know that Dad won’t remember this holiday, or indeed, any other occasion.

Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago, but it obviously started a while before that. We kept trying to excuse his forgetfulness as “senior moments,” and made light of his telling us the same thing over and over and mixing up our names more than usual. But one day, he walked out the door barefoot and didn’t come back for a few hours. We combed the neighborhood and got the police involved, and eventually he was discovered window shopping in a store a few miles from the house.

My mom was gone by then, so my brother and I had to take charge. We took him to see specialists and we hired home care to make sure he was never left alone again. But the dementia didn’t stop there. It’s gotten so bad that he barely remembers things from one minute to the next and he gets confused and angry at the drop of a hat. We’re doing our best, but it’s hard to watch his deterioration.