the tyranny of her dementia

She treats me like a handmaiden, issuing one-word commands that I’m expected to obey immediately. Coffee. Tissue. Shoes. Bathroom. (OK, well I do obey the “bathroom” command immediately.) Sometimes she can’t think of the word, and so she’s developed hand signals to indicate what she wants. She expects me to be with her all of the time. She even wants me to sleep with her. We are back to the boundary-less childhood from which I couldn’t wait to escape.
I took a day off today, drove to Albany for lunch with my former work colleagues, including our boss. We are all female.
My cell phone rang while I was there. My brother had dialed my number for my mother. For ten minutes she wailed and ranted on the phone, mostly gibberish, but also condemnations for leaving her for my “girl friends” and threats to burn the house down and break everything in it. She laid on the guilt, guilt, guilt. “You’ve got to come home right now,” she kept insisting. I told her that I would be home soon, soon.
Five minutes later the phone rang again. It was my brother, chastising me for the glass shelf in the refrigerator being sticky. Clean it yourself, I tell him.
When I finally get home and walk in the door, she just misses hitting me in the face with the handle of her cane. She’s still mad. Hadn’t eaten all day. Wouldn’t take her meds. So much for brother as caregiver.
I think that she would be happier in a good Catholic nursing home, where she would have activities and people around to distract her, daily mass to attend. But my brother won’t allow it. And he has Power of Attorney.
Meanwhile, I am held hostage to her increasing dementia, and I am making plans for my escape.

2 thoughts on “the tyranny of her dementia

  1. I want you to know that for the past couple of years I have read regularly and appreciated your blog. My dad is in the mid stages of alzheimer’s. He chose a long time ago when he was healthy and vital, to move into a progressive care center. It was the best decision he’s ever made for himself. His condition has progressed beyond the lashing out phase and into the child-like “everything is groovy” stage. He needs a LOT of care and accepts it way more easily from those who are not in the family. On one level I feel sort of sorry for myself that I was not ever allowed the opportunity to participate in his transitional journey. Is that odd? I also know that it is a gift Dad has given me. I know he is fine and well cared for where he is and our relationship can continue seamlessly and lovinglyl on as always. Thank you for telling your story. I have learned a lot from you.

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