I don’t mean to minimize or trivialize dementia – rather, I mean to try and explain what it means to me to watch someone I love lose their grip on life, reality and personality. I have never witnessed the effects of dementia firsthand before and I hope never to witness it again.
I have been on the peripheral of folks suffering mental illness, which includes dementia, but never up close and personal. Those of us with sanity (for the most part) have no clue what happens to those without. We cannot even comprehend the nightmare dementia becomes for the patient and those who love and care for them.
I have no intention of trying to go into the technical reasons for dementia. The horrible part is that it cannot be really diagnosed until a post-mortem examination. In other words, once you die from it…it can be diagnosed. What’s wrong with that picture?
During this experience, I have heard much about might be, could be and should be from the medical profession. Since dementia cannot be diagnosed, nothing else can be said. The problem is that we humans need definitive answers about life and why a loved one is losing theirs.
We understand death from old age; our bodies break down and won’t run anymore. Sad, yes…but we can come to grips with the loss. But, watching a loved one totally lose their grip on reality while dying of old age leaves one with a broken heart, twice. Seeing someone behave in a manner totally alien to the history of their life must be almost beyond endurance. How my wife is coping with seeing her mother in this state is beyond my power of reason. It is obvious that I married the strongest person on the planet.
While some men don’t particularly get along with their mothers-in-laws, I have grown to love mine simple because she took the place of my own mother after her passing in 1996. Mum (as we like to call my wife’s mother) also lost her husband in 1996. That left only the three of us to look after each other. We like to think the three of us as having one whole brain when it comes to finding lost keys, glasses, checkbooks and the such. The truth of the matter is that some of the lost items have gone into another dimension never to be seen by the eyes of men or women again.
I absolutely shiver at the thought of all the old (and not so old) people suffering from dementia locked up in a world of madness both mentally and physically. We humans also have a tendency to turn and walk away – forever. We cannot and will not do this to Mum. She is worth so much more. She has brought us joy and laughter for many years. I can’t imagine not going to Denny’s on Sunday for lunch. How such a simple outing could be so much fun is beyond me.
The old adage – “We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t find a cure for dementia,” holds true. I suppose we could say the same thing about many earthly problems, but for Mum, it is particularly poignant.
I’m just saying,