Wendy Clancy

Family Member aware of their Dementia

Both of my parents are gone now. They passed away quickly from natural causes, which I found to be a blessing . They made their wishes known to us ...”please never put me into a home”, and I wouldn’t have. But the events in their later years caused anxiety for both my parents and me. I realized in their late 70’s that the home they loved... and were comfortable in its surroundings, had become overwhelming. I moved them to a smaller townhouse, and unaccustomed to the new surroundings they began to deteriorate. My father had shown symptoms of the onset of Parkinson’s Disease...and although reasonably active he was unable to maneuver his body or his mind in the way he had been accustomed to. He lost interest in the activities that were available for him in the old house. No Workshop ...no shrubs to trim. His Geriatric Specialist suggested other hobbies, Social Worker involvement and prescribed Galantamine to improve his deteriorating memory. Resentment emerged as my father’s Dementia progressed. His lifetime duties became my Mother’s. She found this difficult to cope with and subsequently avoided the responsibilities. They bickered constantly ....something I had not been exposed to. Depression became an issue for my father who knew he was slipping and was unable to hide the obvious signs. He waited patiently for her to return home to make his lunch because he had forgotten how to, and in my mother’s frustration she became angry and resentful, knowing that he was unable to perform these tasks on his own. For them, a lifetime loving couple it became a battle of the wits. She always won. After living independently for so many years the idea of an unfamiliar caregiver frightened them. The responsibility of their well being became my obligation, which I lovingly accepted . I became the protector...from another city. I monitored every aspect of their lives for the years prior to their deaths. My own life revolved around theirs and I was frustrated and angry. I treated them like children, knowingly scolding them and in return receiving signs of remorse. I called the Elder Abuse Hotline as my anger increased. I knew as my father’s dementia progressed, and he no longer understood the consequences of his actions, that the certainty of this aggressive disease would not preclude admission to a Care Facility. So my question is this: How can we help those suffering from Dementia who are aware of what is happening to them? How do we speak openly and lovingly to them about the changes they are experiencing? How do we lessen their anxiety... their fear of the inevitable, and further, how do we control our own emotions as the caregivers?

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