Are we all on a dementia continuum?
That was lovely, Jak. I have always loved (and been somewhat intimidated by) your dad. He took care of my sister when she was in college. He was always a good friend and mentor. I will never forget how he helped me my senior year in highschool with a science experiment that won me third place in state. He let me use his spectrophotometer to test the UV resistance of different sunscreens. Until then, I hated science. Still don't love it, but because of his help, I got an A in my physics class. 35 years later, I remember it. People touch others' lives in profound ways they may not even realize. Your dad was one of those people, and I don't know that he ever realized how special he is.
My dad had been a rocket scientist (literally—chief of man-machine controls at NASA HQ), and he got dementia at 80. The best thing I can say about his particular disease was that he was always aware that he had it. "Your mother says I can't remember anything," he told me, "And, mostly, she's right!"
Great capture of how it feels to deal with a loving family member becoming a new iteration of themselves.
Our mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s ended last October. Loss of any verbal ability was the hardest, and we learned to communicate without any response from her except a look in her eyes.
We learned memory care techniques that come from improvisation training, where we only said “yes, and” and avoided any talk of time and contradictions of her observations and assertions. It really didn’t matter if it upset her, so we played with whatever she said and had fun.
We liked to think that she went from a Methodist to a Buddhist in her final years, and it was her family and caretakers who had to learn to be “in the moment” with her.