I think about Dementia and what a horrible disease it is. I’m watching a family member whom we’ll call Aunt Shea losing all quality of life. Her husband died about 8 months ago and we’ve discovered Aunt Shea has more than dementia, she has dementia and a fake husband. In some cases the fake husband might be ok, but in this case the fake husband has a girlfriend. Every day when she calls me to tell me her husband left her for another woman I ponder whether or not to tell her that her husband died. If she’s happy why bother telling her. But the problem is she thinks he’s having an affair. So I tell her. Today was the day she knew he had died but wanted to know if the fake husband died too. I had to go with the flow and decided not to say yes or no and said I didn’t know.
The hard part about this is we didn’t know about the dementia because she and her husband hid it so well. His kids helped them too, so Aunt Shea’s side of the family had no idea how bad things were. Unfortunately it is very common for people use coping mechanisms so that people around them don’t really know what’s going on. In this situation the hard part is that means we are grieving both her husband and the woman Aunt Shea used to be.
There are many coping mechanisms that people with dementia use to handle everyday life. Notes around the house, pad with reminders, shuffling papers, double, triple and quadruple checking things. Those are just a few of the things Aunt Shea has used to help her feel like she has some control in her life. She’s a very stubborn woman and won’t admit anything is wrong nor will she see a doctor. As the days go by it’s become clear to me and the rest of the family that she has been hit by the daunting disease.
Now we are working diligently to find a place for her to live where she can enjoy the part of the life she has left. She is calling me 2 – 4 times a day unless she’s with someone else. The calls are usually about her husband leaving her for another woman. Sometimes she has hallucination’s of people coming into the house and has since changed the locks. When she’s here, I spend most of the day reminding her that her husband died. When watching TV, it can’t be a show with a complicated story line because her memory is so short she can’t remember the story line. But a good comedy is great. Laughter is great for anyone, and she loves to laugh.There are lots of lessons to learn about dealing with dementia. It’s amazing! Now that I’m involved with dementia everywhere I look someone is affected by it.
There are so many resources out there. Ask people, search the internet, Call the department of aging and you can even check with the Alzheimer’s Association. They are a great resource and can give you help and direction.