Dementia and the Unfairness of Life

She mentioned that her daughter has dementia. I thought I misheard her. I asked for clarification.

Yes, her daughter has dementia.

Her daughter is 72 and is the process of moving into a facility with her spouse.

I don’t have children, but I can say with confidence that being confronted with the possibility of one of your children passing away before you has to be one of life’s cruelest situations. Continue reading Dementia and the Unfairness of Life

The Forgetting and the Remembering and the Forgetting

Dementia’s progress isn’t linear nor is it predictable. People living with dementia don’t start forgetting people in the order of “not significant in my life” to “has always been my favorite although I’d never admit it.” People with dementia don’t forget loved ones because they are mad at them. REPEAT THAT TO YOURSELF. Continue reading The Forgetting and the Remembering and the Forgetting

Saying No and Leaving Early in Dementialand (aka I Wish You the Best Possible Holidays)

You do not have to buy a present for every single person you’ve called a friend since middle school. If you don’t have the time or energy to send out holiday cards, then don’t do it. Maybe Midnight mass just isn’t in the cards this year. No one ever died from only having one choice of pie at a holiday dinner (unless it’s pumpkin pie, which is disgusting since pumpkin is a decorative item and not a real food–just an opinion). Continue reading Saying No and Leaving Early in Dementialand (aka I Wish You the Best Possible Holidays)

Nursing Homes and Guilt Traps in Dementialand

And then there are people who promise their loved ones that they will never place them in a nursing home. I once had a woman say to me, “My husband and I promised we’d never do that to each other.”

I can promise my spouse a lot of things. I can promise I’ll never cheat on him. I can promise I’ll never blow all our money at the casino. I can promise to always take the kitchen trash out when it’s overflowing. (Bill, I promise you the first two–I make no commitment to the third. The third was just an example.) You see, those are things I can control. Continue reading Nursing Homes and Guilt Traps in Dementialand

When You Are Accused of Being a Diva in Dementialand

You see, I’m not concerned about them. I’m concerned about you. They may never understand your diagnosis. And I don’t want their ignorance to negatively impact your quality of life. You’ve got enough challenges to navigate. It is not your job to explain your symptoms to them. You have nothing to prove to them. You and your care partner must make choices in your own best interest. If they don’t get it, then they don’t get it. If they call you a diva behind your back (or even to your face), let them. You have limited time and energy. Do not spend it explaining yourself to them. Continue reading When You Are Accused of Being a Diva in Dementialand

Habits of Sane Caregivers in Dementialand

Sometimes I write for people with dementia. Sometimes I write for people who have no experience in Dementialand. But today…today I am writing for dementia caregivers. And, really, for all caregivers. If you are a caregiver, things can get pretty rough. I can show you research studies on the rates of clinical depression among caregivers. Spoiler alert–they’re astronomical. (They’re high among caregivers and higher among … Continue reading Habits of Sane Caregivers in Dementialand

Before and After in Dementialand (Or Why I Watch TLC and HGTV)

I was talking to some friends a few weeks back, and the TV show¬†My 600-Pound Life on TLC came up in conversation. It’s a reality show about super-obese individuals who get weight loss surgery and attempt to change their lives for the better. For some reason, I was hesitant to admit to my friends that I watch the show. I wanted to say I had … Continue reading Before and After in Dementialand (Or Why I Watch TLC and HGTV)

Why Dementialand Needs an Orientation

There’s a lot people don’t tell you about dementia. The doctor says your loved one has dementia. Maybe it’s Alzheimer’s. Maybe it’s Vascular Dementia, Lewy-Body, or Frontotemporal Dementia. The doctor only has a limited amount of time because that’s how our medical system works. You go home. No one teaches you how to live with dementia. No one tells you what challenges might lie ahead. … Continue reading Why Dementialand Needs an Orientation

But When Are You Supposed to Grieve in Dementialand?

I gave a presentation for dementia family caregivers at a memory care community last fall. A middle-aged woman in the front row did not seem impressed with me at all. She almost scowled at me when we did make eye contact, but for most of my presentation she stared at the wall above my head. I wondered if I had said something to offend her. … Continue reading But When Are You Supposed to Grieve in Dementialand?

Stuffed Cats and Real Cats in Dementialand

I once got in a tense argument about whether a stuffed cat was a real cat. For the record, it was a stuffed cat but really it was a real cat. About ten years ago, I was visiting with a hospice patient on a weekly basis. Linda-not her real name-had vascular dementia (as well as multiple other health conditions) and lived at an assisted living. She was reserved … Continue reading Stuffed Cats and Real Cats in Dementialand