11,000 people turn 65 a day. 1 in 3 seniors dies with dementia.
The duality of emotions dealing with these seniors and the disease that ravages them are heartbreaking.
Picture someone you love, and then imagine a time when you wanted to bean them. Right? It appears to me that the very people we love the most often confound and frustrate us. It’s probably because we care. We have a stake in the future with them.
But what about the parent that has a dim future and dementia? They are as demanding as a toddler, taking hours to do the smallest thing. You want to go to the market with them to get them out of the house, and to raise their spirits. You carved out some time from other responsibilities to do it, but to simply go to the market you must:
- Get them bathed
- Get them dressed
- Arrange their hair
- Feed the pet and assure them the pet will be fine alone for an hour
- Get them in the car
- Reassure them the pet will be fine while they are gone
- Reassure them the house is locked
- Reassure them you will be back quickly and the pet will be fine.
- Go back for a sweater because you remember the market is cold
- Get some water in case they get thirsty from the meds
- Finally get to the store.
- Now you can navigate the isles and repeat what you have already put in the basket and circle the pet food aisle
The time donated to this simple act of charity takes hours longer and a huge psychic toll. And then the guilt for how much you don’t want to invest this time sets in. You tell yourself, this torment is finite, how many more trips to the store can there be? Take the time, make the time, you tell yourself. Put other responsibilities, people, family members on hold.
Then the resentment sets in. It would be so much easier just to shop on your own. But you know elders need stimulus and social connection, so out you go.
The next day they don’t remember that you went to the store at all! Tomorrow they tell you no one has fed them, they haven’t been out in weeks, they are starving and the dog is out of food.
You teeter totter between guilt and resentment endlessly, then heartbreaking empathy kicks in for the sad state of their life and you are devastated for hours.
There is no right answer. You just soldier on. Try to love them. Rest in the spaces between demands. Another day , in another reality.