In honor of May’s Older American’s Month, we would like to suggest a great read for those that care for someone with dementia – a disease that currently affects an estimated 35.6 million people worldwide.
Titled “Dementia Diary: A Caregiver’s Journal,” Robert Tell’s semi-autobiography chronicles the somber realities of the disease with compassion and wit. “Dementia Diary” is not only an antidote for caregiver burnout but serves as a gentle reminder that no matter your struggle, you can persevere.
Born in 1913, she was eighty-three when she arrived at the Residence. For a long time, she did not remember her age unless someone prompted her. Today, even prompting gets no response.” Jerry,” she used to say, back when she could still hold a conversation, “I have nine lives.”
“Are you a cat then, Ma? If you started with nine lives, you must have used some of them when you were hospitalized in Florida, and again up here?”
“I still have some left, Jerry. I have longevity.”
“That’s wonderful, Ma. But how do you know?”
“Don’t worry. I know.
And she does have longevity. If she had stayed in Florida, I believe that she would not have lasted this long. She was deteriorating rapidly there. Here, she has begun the tenth decade of her life.
She is quite frail, physically, and her dementia is very pronounced, but she is very much alive. I don’t know how to measure happiness in someone so near the end of a fifteen-plus year slide into total physical and cognitive dependence.
For years, in spite of her situation, she seemed happy. Now, she suffers from all sorts of new ailments. It must be hard for her to be cheerful. Still, she tries.
When I think about how long it has been since my mother was completely herself-how long she has lived in the margins of life-I am amazed. For me, bearing witness and trying to do what’s right as a loving caregiver, it has been a long, slow, torturous decline.
Since she cannot express herself, I can only try to imagine what it’s been like for her.
If you or someone you know has been affected by dementia, take a moment to look at his website