Entering Strange New Territory
For years, I've heard friends talking about dealing with a relative's dementia. It sounded awful. My friend Carrie Knowles even wrote a book about it: The Last Childhood, which opens with one of the stronger first sentences ever: "Last night I dreamed my mother knew my name."
But no matter how familiar the subject, one's first face-to-face times with a relative whose mind is disappearing are profoundly disturbing. Lately I've been involved in what's to happen with one of my aunts. Where she will live. How much freedom she will or won't have.
It hasn't gone smoothly. My once tasteful and understated aunt is aggressive. That's an understatement in itself. I'll spare you details.
The idea of lobbying to limit someone's freedom is appalling to me. But I did this recently, into a microphone, for the record, before a Clerk of Court and will do it again in a couple of weeks.
To lock someone up! It's unimaginable to me — and yet seemingly necessary. I know of no alternative. I wish I did. On her own, she gets lost, doesn't know where home is; she's in danger.
But I like to be on the side of freedom. Always. And that just can't be.
And then there's the maze of the dementia itself: I try to talk with her in a logical way. Which is absurd and maddening. It's like talking loud and enunciating to someone who speaks another language. A couple of weeks ago I let myself get sucked into a crazed argument with her. She kept saying she couldn't hear. So I talked louder and louder until I realized I was shouting my pitiful logic at her in a public area of an assisted living center.
I am also unused to any sort of bureaucracy, having been self-employed for the last 41 years. And this business has involved a bunch of multi-layered systems to negotiate.
I have made one happy discovery. The court does not easily take someone's freedom. That's as it should be, and I find it reassuring.
But mostly, the conflict I feel between what I value and what I'm convinced must be done is exhausting. And it's unlikely to have an ideal ending.
Categories: enhancing creativity