Saturday, July 29, 2017
Dementia is a horrible disease. It comes on slowly and only gets worse. In the very beginning it can almost seem humorous but it always ends badly.
There are several stages to dementia.
The first stage is a bit comical, and people joke about simple early forgetfulness. In the second stage the person becomes angry; angry at themselves, angry at the disease, angry at others to cover up what they do not want to admit. In the third stage the person is clearly afraid, I can only imagine waking up every day and not knowing where you are, who all these people are, and in fact, who you are! The final stage seems to be just going through the motions without even enough cognition to care or be afraid.
For those who love the afflicted person, the final stage is almost a relief.
Years ago, when my mom was showing signs of dementia it was not clear if she was forgetful, or it was just the start of things to come. Mom loved her ice cream, and sometimes would have seconds where we did not know if she was just still hungry, or she had not remembered she just had desert. At the time this was comical.
Some of the signs could be infuriating. Mom lived alone and was, rightfully so, always concerned that the house was secure before she turned in for the night. Due to her forgetfulness, she made the “rounds” several times. When we visited, this could be an issue.
At the time I was a smoker, and I did not want mom to know I still smoked…over 50-years-old and still did not want to worry or upset my mom…anyway, I would sneak outside at night to light up a last smoke. Invariably when I was done I would find myself locked out of the house because mom had made yet another lock-up round. I did not want to wake up the house and also did not want to get caught as a smoker by mom, so I had to dig in the dark for the fake rock which held a key to the door. It was a bit comical looking back, but infuriating at the time.
The dementia progressed slowly and eventually mom had to be placed in assisted living where she went through all the stages of dementia. I visited seldom as she lived far away. My brother did most of the arrangements and lived nearby. He visited almost every day, and I think he became a “son” to a few other ladies who did not have steady visitors.
The few times I did visit, she was aware that she knew me, but was not completely sure who I was. On my last visit, I don’t believe she knew me at all, but was happy to see me anyway.
Dementia is a horrible disease. It can be scary for the afflicted, and frustrating for loved ones.
I miss my Mom. I even miss being locked out of the house late at night hiding my habit while she tried to hide her affliction.