A Little Light Reading ...

A little light reading has been necessitated by recent events.  Something along the lines of mortality rates in, Alzheimer’s or dementia patients, who suffer a fall and hip fracture.  I know, not real cheery or uplifting stuff.  Part of my role, however, as the family “shock jock” and general bearer of bad tidings, is to give periodic reality checks and updates.  To do this requires some supplemental reading and awareness of, not simply present circumstances but possible consequences and outcomes.

No one enjoys seeing their parents suffer and the after effects of a fall are no exception.  There are often multiple perspectives on an event, however.  In an emotional cloud, it may be hard to see beyond the initial tragedy.  Another look will often reveal a silver lining of sorts.  Without a precipitating event, inertia prevails and necessary actions are merely contemplated but never initiated. 

The best efforts of the players, though noble and honorable, are not always in everyones best interest.  There are times when it becomes imperative that we let go of our own, self image and need to “be” or “maintain” a certain persona.  It can be difficult to admit, that others may do a better job, caring for someone we love.  Not all of us come equipped with the necessary temperament and skill set, to care for those who suffer from dementia.  Love and loyalty, simply aren’t enough.

Those who suffer memory impairment, or some form of dementia, are often lumped into the classification of Alzheimer’s patients.  In the movies and on TV, these individuals often show awareness of what is happening to them as they drift in and out of their altering realties.  This gives family members the time and opportunity to ask their questions and say their goodbyes.  Our situation might have been easier had there been even the slightest recognition of the changes taking place.  If only life had imitated art in this case.

Looking back, that fall at the symphony was probably the starting point.  (People always ask, “When did you first notice?”)  Tests were taken and nothing found, so behavioral anomalies were written off as temporary and due to the trauma of the, trip and fall.  It took time before the delusions and hallucinations, developed to a point that they could no longer be ignored or attributed to being under the weather.

Even then the grasping of straws continued, in search of a quick fix or cure.  If only this behavior could be stopped or suppressed, then things might get better.  Perhaps it is a tumor or there was a stroke and it can be fixed.  When the victim issues stubborn and vehement denial, that anything is wrong, action of any sort becomes difficult.  Those who can read the writing on the wall or issue warnings are often dismissed or scorned.

Loyalty to ones partner, years of memories and deeply engrained patterns of interaction often block the path to recognition and acceptance.  Without these, the most basic steps cannot be taken.  One is left playing catch-up, as you are always a few steps behind the curve.  Perhaps better late than never, recent events have led to flurry of action.

The main players have finally landed in their separate, yet appropriate accommodations, to be properly cared for.  Most family members are onboard and have a clearer view of the situation and what is necessary.  I sometimes wish I could be the optimist, reassuring everyone that everything will be okay.  Since optimism and denial are well represented, that leaves me holding the bag and sounding alarms. 

Oddly, being the furthest removed geographically, I find myself closest to the situation.  I am expected to be in charge, to the extent that I can be.  I dare say, that no one in our extended family would have a clue what is going on if not for my sometimes brash and forthright delivery of updates.  No two families are alike and it is futile to whine about why events or individuals are the way they are.  One merely prepares, to the best of ones abilities, hoping that they will be ready for what comes. 

Measured against optimism and denial, I cannot state emphatically, that my way is better.  Foolish or defiant, perhaps, but I want to see it coming.  I do not long for blissful ignorance.  I choose the painful truth.  To know both the ecstasy and the agony.   To know all that I am capable of knowing.  To feel each step in life’s relentless march toward death and miss nothing along the way.