Bad, bad Leroy Brown

Worry lines creased Marsha's face. "I swear my father won't die of Alzheimer's--he makes me so mad I'm going to kill him first." Sensing she needed to vent about the challenges of caring for her feisty father, I invited her to clue me in.

At ninety-four years of age, Leroy Brown (name changed to protect the guilty) had trash overflowing and junk piled to the ceiling in his Detroit home. The only food in the refrigerator was beer and frozen pizza. He hadn't taken his blood pressure pill in months and the electric department had turned off his power for non-payment. He'd recently gotten lost driving home from the grocery store. In short, his Alzheimer's disease had progressed to the point where he could no longer manage on his own. Marsha flew up to Detroit and located a pleasant nurse's aide to cook, clean, run errands, pay bills, and take him to the doctor.

Just two days later, the aide called to resign.Why? Every time she attempted to show up for work, Leroy brandished a rifle at her and hollered, "get your fat ass off my property or I'll shoot!" Marsha flew back to Detroit, seized the rifle and came up with plan B. This time, she dug up a caregiver who agreed to move into the house in exchange for free rent and food. "I've dealt with Alzheimer's patients before so don't you worry," she insisted, patting Marsha's hand.

Wrong! Two weeks later, the caregiver called--she was moving out. Today. The old geezer had exposed himself on multiple occasions and now was groping at her and insisting if she was going to live in his house, she had better  "earn her keep" (and he didn't mean by cleaning the toilet!)

Marsha flew back to Detroit again. She moved him into an assisted living program against his will. The very first night she received a frantic call from the facility. "Leroy crawled out his second story window using his sheet as a rope. Now we have no idea where he is." Since it was the dead of winter in Detroit, the police were called to help find him before he froze to death. Eight hours later, they found him warm and comfortable watching television in the recliner at his house. Even though the assisted living facility was four miles from his home, he had walked in his bathrobe and slippers until "some guy in a truck" offered him a ride. He made no apology for the angst he'd caused. "It's your own fault. I told you I didn't want to live in some old folks home."

Fed up with his foolishness, Marsha admitted him to a nursing home which locked its front door and had no windows to crawl out of. He was reprimanded for profane language, pinching and groping the nurses, and throwing broccoli and Brussels sprouts at a chatty woman who grated on his nerves at the dinner table. One day, he stuffed a sock in the mouth of a fellow Alzheimer's patient. "It's her own fault. She wouldn't quit hollering, so I shut her up."

Late one night, another nursing home resident, Mr. Williams, got confused and shuffled with his walker into Leroy's room by mistake. Startled by the "prowler," Leroy picked up his cane and started clobbering the old man. The nurse on duty heard the commotion and ran in just in time to witness Mr. Williams holding up his walker like a shield and Leroy striking with his cane. Mr. Williams thrust the walker toward Leroy like a sword. Leroy responded with a whack that landed them both on the floor. Security was called to break up the brawl and Mr. Williams was ambulanced to the hospital for X-rays. Leroy refused to apologize. Arms crossed he snapped, "It's his own fault. He shouldn't have been in my room. I thought he was a burglar."

After learning of Leroy's latest antics, thoughts of patricide entered Marsha's head. What was she going to do with him?

Leroy was kicked out of the nursing home and admitted to the Psychiatric ward for evaluation. As though sensing he was doomed for powerful psych drugs or ECT if he didn't behave himself, Leroy became a model patient-- pleasant, clean-mouthed, and he even managed to keep his grubby paws off the nurses. When Marsha walked in, he had the nurses and doctors in stitches at his humorous tales from World War II. He had hoodwinked them all. The psychiatrist remarked, "Leroy was just defending himself. He's acting out because he needs more activity and stimulation."

Leroy heartily agreed as he ogled an attractive nurse nearby. He then turned on Marsha."I told you there was nothing wrong with me. You're the one with the problem."

The problem was hers alright: Leroy. The first nursing home refused to take him back. With begging and pleading, she conjoled another nursing home to take him. At the advice of the psychiatrist, he was enrolled in "mentally stimulating activities" such as arts and crafts, shuffleboard, and physical therapy to improve his stiff knees and hips. He was banned from arts and crafts after offending the lady participants with his vulgar crayon drawing of a voluptuous nude woman. He was banned from shuffleboard after losing a game and flinging and breaking his mallet in a fit of rage. Maybe physical therapy was the ticket.

The physical therapist enrolled Leroy into a muscle strengthening program using elastic bands and light weights. One day, Leroy wasn't in the mood for therapy and refused to participate.

"Come on, Leroy. It'll be good for you," the therapist encouraged.

"I don't want to." He pursed his lips and crossed his arms like a petulant child.

"You  can do it. Come on, I insist you at least try." He pulled Leroy off the bed and into a standing position. "It'll strengthen your knees."

Annoyed that the therapist hadn't listened to him, Leroy walloped his foot straight into the crotch of the therapist. As the therapist howled and doubled over in pain, Leroy snapped, "Nothing wrong with that leg. Want me to show you how well the other knee works?"

The therapist escaped and refused to EVER work on Leroy again. Of course, Marsha was called yet again. "What can I do about it?" she snapped, exasperated.  "I'm here in Nashville and I can't afford to miss more work or fly to Detroit again. Deal with it."

Leroy was sent back to the psych ward and this time they prescribed potent medications to keep him calm. While she hated to see him doped up, at least no more people wound up in the ER. Once he was sedated, he was sent back to the nursing home where he lived for another six months.