Dorothy’s Dementia

One of the best gifts Dorothy (mom) gave me and my brother was the education about how she would be acting/responding/progressing with this disease.  It’s been over five years since she started telling us that she would get to a point where she would not remember anything.  She told us what signs to look for and when it was time to put her in the “home”. Mom made us promise that we would keep her in her house as long as we could. We honored our word.

We saw it coming-little by little- Dementia was taking her away.  We remained caring and calm- you have to-or you will not be able to comfort them or help navigate them along-it will drive you crazy.  

The most enjoyable way (for both of you) to keep connected with your Demented person is to agree with what they say-they don’t remember it anyway.  If you are argumentative or “call them out” with what they are saying as you know to be wrong- or even go as far -to say to them- “I just told you that-why can’t you remember”- or “you just said that” it only makes the situation worse.  They repeat- they get stuck in the groove and can’t get out-this is what they do, this is their world- we are just helping them through it.  

They are already scared and confused- correcting them or calling them out only embarrasses them and makes them feel stupid. Sometimes,they can feel so ashamed that they shut down- they stop communicating- they do not want to feel humiliated, so they just don’t say anything. 

 It’s hard, it sucks, and it will wear on your last nerve.  But, if you want to be there for them you have to find a way to “let it be”. Let them be who they are- or actually- who Dementia turns them into.

 Mom told us it was time- Yep, about a year before we put her in the Assisting Living facility. I would visit her once or twice a month at her home- I’d go on a Friday after work and spend the night and hang out with her on Saturday.  We would always do some sort of “honey-do” project that needed to be done.  If you own a home, you know that there is always upkeep of some kind that needs to be done.   

A few years back when I would suggest to her that we purge a closet- clean out the garage or weed her flowerbeds, she would decline-she had zero interest in doing it- she would say “not today Cheryl, I’ll do it one day this week”. So instead we would go for a walk or to the junky stores and spend the day just browsing.  

One day she announced that she wanted to try to have someone come in and stay with her. We hired Visiting Angels (excellent company, I highly recommend them) and we went through three different ladies before Dorothy felt comfortable.   They were there on Mondays and Wednesdays.  I’d be go over every other Friday and Saturday and my brother spent as much time as he could with her.  It was easier for him, he lived close by and works construction- so he would visit on rain or slow days. It was working pretty well.  

All was calm for about eight months -then one day I got a call from her and she was all out of sorts.  She was frightened and convinced that her caregiver was going to come back in the night and rob her and steal her car.  Paranoia was starting to take over and her rational thinking was nowhere to be found.  There was nothing my brother or I could say to her to calm her down or make her feel safe.  There was a saying back in the 70’s “paranoia will destroy ya’.  It’s true- this is just another stage of Dementia – it had a tight grip and it was overtaking Dorothy.

My brother and I agreed to cancelled visiting Angels. My brother took on the task of taking her to visit facility’s and find one that she would be happy with.  We made sure that she picked it out. We even videoed her telling us which one she chose- she was happy.

Peace and love,

Cheryl Doreen

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