Friday, 14 September 2012
The Destructive Force of Dementia
Rather than continue weeping into my coffee, I thought writing stuff down might release some of the pain that I'm feeling right now. After a progressive worsening of dementia-like symptoms over recent months, my 78-year old Auntie has now slid into rapid descent into the need for 24/7 care and yesterday I finally took her to a residential care home. Although for the best, in terms of her safety and for her need for help in walking, washing, toileting and dressing, as well as proper meals and ensuring she receives the various medications she now has to take, this has hit me hard. So too my 86-year old Uncle who made the courageous decision to admit that her needs were now such, that care at home was no longer sufficient and after 50-plus years of marriage, will have to now face life alone. How empty and quiet their house now is - gone is the vibrant, noisy presence that was my Auntie, although in recent months that person had already started to slip away. Instead a silence made all the more poignant at the sight of all her crazy clutter still as it was left. Long gone is that vigorous, energetic, funny, intelligent, capable woman, who organised everything - perhaps always her nature or also from the many years spent as a primary school headteacher. Now is left a shell of that person, whose physical and mental form has significantly diminished. This feels like a bereavement, although the person is still alive. Damn dementia!! A cruel illness or condition or whatever it is, that twists like a knife into the family members and friends who have to see their loved one spiralling downwards in terms of mental and physical capacity. I don't feel any better for having written this, I just feel angry and upset at the irony that as my lovely baby niece was being born and I became an Auntie myself, my own Auntie is succumbing to a foggy, wobbly blur. Life sure does throw some shit don't it!