Mom and Dad both have different forms of dementia. It’s a constant balancing act, not typical of what might be considered “normal” dementia circumstances.
One, I could handle. But two, with different phases, different symptoms? I’ve learned to cry in the bathroom, on a self-imposed timer of two minutes. Better that than holding it in, like a volcano.
I get creative with them and find a positive in everything. After 2 weeks of refusing to shower, I asked dad to “help me” clean the bathroom. (he loves helping) All of a sudden, whoops! … we both get soaked! The faucet went haywire. The shampoo bottle exploded, and we laughed for 20 minutes until he had to get in the shower and rinse all that soap off.
Mom’s new little bracelet was from her Uncle Joe. (Mom doesn’t have an uncle Joe.) I replied with much excitement that he would be so kind, and I asked how he was and how their visit went. She was so pleased to share all the details.
Mom and Dad both fidget now. So, with one on each side of the couch, it’s hours of fun as they attempt to fold the tablecloth I just asked them to help me with. I say, “Yay, a team effort!” Their reply: “Woohoo! Go team!”
Mom chews on her meds now. So I crush them, mix them with her favorite applesauce, throw in a Sweet ’N Low, and voila … down the hatch it goes.
Music, drawing, identifying colors, animals, cars, anything on the cards I bought, gives them something to think about. Critical thinking skills are at play.
Focusing on Feelings
It’s essential that we remember – though their minds are fleeting, like cars getting lost on the streets, making a left where they should go right, or running into a dead-end street – their feelings are fully intact, similar to the clouds hovering over those streets.
Cater to the feelings. Give them hope, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of belonging. Remind them they matter, and their quality of life goes up.
I’m exhausted, yes, and alone in this with them. But Mom and Dad gave me their lives, so I give them mine.
My heart goes out to all those who stand by or stood by those experiencing dementia, walking with them to the finish line. It changes you, no doubt. It’s changed me. If you are caring for someone right now, I pray you find and keep peace and comfort in your heart as you move forward in your journey.