Thursday, March 23, 2017

Side Effects of Dementia on Caregivers

love and marriage, kissing boys, reality, S.R. Karfelt
The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

Dementia feels contagious.

You train your brain with input, right? After a long stint wandering the halls of dementia, it takes a concerted effort to escape it. For instance, after spending the day with Gummy, when she’s deep into her “I’m living at Burger King they call it Memory Care now,” I’ve actually referred to the nurses as, “Gummy’s co-workers.” I’d like to pretend I was humoring her, but it’d be a lie.

Sometimes I come home and shut out the lights and sit in the dark. It’s sort of a sensory deprivation thing. (Other than rescue kitty standing outside the window yowling.)

I’m fine, just fine.

Most of the time I handle it pretty well. I love her. I enjoy being with her. If I occasionally cry picking out underwear for her at Target, just keep moving.

It’s not the only thing, but…
When someone complains about how they had to work an extra hour, or how the car they want costs too much, or how hard it is to get costumer service on the phone, I’m making sympathetic sounds but inside my head I’m screaming,  BUT YOU HAVE YOUR FACULTIES INTACT DON’T YOU, STFU! SEIZE THE DAY! CARPE DIEM! ENJOY EVERY SECOND! THEY’RE EVAPORATING!

Not that I don’t agree with you about the little difficulties in life. Why just today I asked Panera for extra olives on my salad and only got four olives. So I feel your pain.

I take Gummy to see her doctor, because she’s lightheaded and half-fainting all the time, plus her back hurts, her legs won’t work, her nose is stuffed up, etc. etc. (Gummy rehashes her woes all the way to the medical offices) but when they ask her how she is, she’s forgotten and says, “Can’t complain, I’m fine! My memory is good. Everyone says I have a good memory.” Sometimes I roll my eyes so HARD that I worry the ligaments could detach.

Existential Crisis. Because you can’t look someone with dementia/Alzheimer’s in the eyes very often without wondering, where do they go? If you contemplate that for long things start to crumble and you start watching a lot of Bill Nye on YouTube, and Jenna Marbles. You’ve always watched a lot of Neil deGrasse Tyson, so that doesn’t count. If you don’t get that, maybe you’re not having an existential crisis.

Economics is the bottom line. The way the world works. Blah, blah, blah. I suppose if we step back and look at how old and infirm people are treated in third world countries (I’m thinking lying in the streets with no legs, begging), then the fact that people with memory loss often aren’t cared for properly in our first world country, isn’t a shock. But, hey economics-is-the-bottom-line-world, I’m disappointed in you.

Capitalism. Ditto. We’re talking about a generation of people who’ve worked hard all of their lives. You need to step up. I’m judging you. I still think you’re the greatest, but know what? You could be freaking better. I’m ashamed of you.

Organized Religion. Gummy has forgotten you. The next one to ask me how Gummy sits with Jesus gets a throat punch.

Plus there’s a pile of little side effects.

Sometimes I don’t go to the grocery store. Can’t squeeze it in. We eat a lot of Panera.

The newspaper goes from the mailbox straight to the recycling bin because who am I kidding? It’s not going to be read.

Junk mail just pisses me off. TREES PEOPLE. STOP. JUST STOP. Send me an email that I’ll never open like everybody else does.

It’s unlikely that I’ll pick up the phone for any number other than Gummy’s assisted living, but on the off-chance a telemarketer gets me, it’s a sad day for them. No. Time. Unless you’re calling to heal the sick for free, you’d be better off sucking down a glass of glass than trying to scam me after a long day.


There are more side effects, but it’s 10:30 p.m. and I’m just getting to the shower today. Then I’m going to do laundry. Also this blog. 

Please share your own side effects, because I know we could keep this up for a long time. Comment if you can feel me, or if you’re disappointed in economics too.  

And here's a puppy, because dementia/Alzheimer's sucks, but dogs. They help.

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