Sunday, July 10, 2011

Caretakers Have it Tough

Until you're in the same house for days at a time, it's impossible to realize how very difficult it is to be caretaker for a loved one who has dementia. There are the obvious problems, but there are hidden ones as well.

If you try to explain something to them and go beyond two sentences, they cannot remember the first sentence when you get to sentence three. Neither do they care. Trying to have a serious discussion with someone who sits there grinning at you with a "talk to the hand" look on his face makes me want to scream and slap. You can't do that. It wouldn't help anyway. It wouldn't work with a two year old, and it wouldn't work with a 97 year old with dementia.

The current crises, and of course we're having one or I wouldn't be up at 5 a.m. writing, should be classified as, "I won't do that. People will think I'm old." Again, when you're 97, why would you care? Your years should be counted as memories or milestones, badges of honor. Not demerits. He's decided that he can't use a cane. Physical progression of age has determined that he cannot walk without it. He grips walls and furniture as he makes his way through the rooms. Walls work quite well. Furniture tips over, pulling him down and crashing on top of him.

He's a big guy, well over six feet tall. My mom is about five foot two. She can't pick him up. He refuses help from anyone else. He has fallen three times in the last two days. Each time he swears at my husband, who "must have pushed me." After all, it has to be someone's fault, and can't be his. He won't allow my big strapping husband to assist him from the floor. He wants my little mother to do it.

On Monday she'll call a visiting nurse. She's afraid to take him out of the house without the cane he refuses to use. She can't even continue sending him to the Senior Concerns adult day care center if he can't walk without falling.

We'll be here another five days. It's not enough. She refuses our offer to stay. She needs more support than a visit can provide. No wonder I'm not sleeping. There are no easy answers for a caretaker. Apparently there aren't any for a daughter who lives so far away, either.

1 comment:

Dean K Miller said...

It is the challenging places of life like these that we find the angels among us.