We’re finally just about ready to leave (we should have left ten minutes ago).
“I can’t find my purse.”
Oh dear! “Well, I’ll help you look for it.”
Translated, this means I’ll check all the usual suspects, places where it seems to get stashed, like behind clothes in the closet, under the sink in the bathroom, in the linen closet; behind the sofa; maybe under the bed.
“I got it.”
“Where was it?”
“In your closet.”
Once on our way, the question comes up: “Where are we going?”
It’s Sunday; we are on our way to church, same as every Sunday.
“Oh, that’s right.”
Five minutes on: “Where are we going?”
“Oh, that’s right.”
She’s not stupid. She has early-stage dementia. It’s hard on her and difficult for you. The fact of the matter is, she can’t help it, and as much as you might want to, you can’t change it. That’s easy enough to say, but believe me, not always easy to follow. Still, that’s about the only rational, caring way to deal with dementia in one you love: accept it, empathetically.
The confusion, forgetfulness, suspicion, indecision, increasing difficulty in expressing thoughts clearly, uneasiness in a group, or away from familiar settings, those are ever-increasing burdens they unwillingly bear. They really don’t understand their situation. They feel vulnerable. So you try to be sympathetic; to deal with them lovingly, the best understanding way you know how. Patience is a must. But patience at times threatens to desert you. It’s heart-breaking.
Dementia is an illness medicine is still valiantly trying to both understand and deal with. So far, it has been slow progress. So, you make the best of it you can; you live with it with as little stress and frustration you can manage.
The one you love is still there. He or she is still there within the struggling, perplexed person you deal with, day in and day out. They struggle mostly because they don’t understand what’s going on. Why they can’t remember conversations, how to do simple things, even people close to them? Why? They may not admit it, but it scares them.
Dementia is a steady decent into isolation. One of slowly losing the ability to function independently. It seems more than a little unfair at the end of a full and independent life. But then, who said life is fair?
They can’t help it, and you can’t change it. All you can do is to provide and care as best you can, until you can’t.
That’s the really sad part.