Dealing with an unfamiliar world
I think that one of the hardest things that a family ever has to go through is dealing with a loved one who is suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Moving from loving family member to a person who does not even recognize you is an arduous journey for both parties that is impossible to prepare for. You hear of others going through it and feel their anguish, but living it becomes a whole other experience that is very hard to describe unless you have gone through it yourself.
Looking back I suspect that my grandmother was developing dementia far earlier that any of us imagined. We saw uncharacteristic things that she started to do as just things that were happening because of her age. The reality was that some of those things were so uncharacteristic that they should have set off alarm bells, but didn’t. They say that hindsight is 20/20 and looking back and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, it now all makes sense.
One of the hardest things in dealing with dementia is when you are unfamiliar with how to deal with the person that is no longer familiar to you. We have this innate desire to want to be right and we feel the need to correct the things that they tell us that we know to be untrue. The reality is that only causes angst for us and them because in their minds the things are very real. The time period and reality in their mind is very valid as far as they are concerned, whether we believe it or not. It’s better to go with the flow and just agree, which ultimately causes less stress for both parties.
The hardest thing to deal with is when they no longer know you. This person that that has been a part of your life so many years suddenly looks in your eyes and fails to recognize the person in front of them. When my grandmother initially entered her senior community she knew all of us. However as time progressed, that memory faded and eventually I became an unknown. That is hard for the person on the receiving end. However, I found that all you have to do is look deep into their eyes and you feel their heart and know that although they may not know you in the physical sense, you are still dry much a part of their heart.
I found this checklist attached to be very valuable. If you are experiencing these terrible diseases for the first time, they are very useful. If you have a history with them already, they are an important reminder of the things that are necessary to maneuver thorough this world that still remains largely a mystery to all of us.
Mornings with Ron is available as a podcast at anchor.fm/morningswithron or on iHeartRadio, Apple or Google Podcast, Spotify or most podcast sites.