The Picture of Dementia

There is always one sock or shoe on, but the other is off. His shirt hangs halfway on his upper body, but is always turned backwards.  He loops his belt around his neck instead of through his pants. He always have to have a piece of paper in his hand which is usually an insignificant ball of tissue rolled up in one hand. He cannot think to handle anything else with paper balled in one hand, but it is difficult for him to put the paper down, and leave it out of his hand unless it is coaxed out. This is the picture of how dementia looks. It is disheveled, confused of true awareness, comprehension, and understanding; yet very prideful and ready to defend itself.

I try to help dress my husband but his pride tells him that he does not need any help.  He declares angrily I have been dressing myself since I was a little boy and can never forget how to do that. Sometimes the things that he says to snap back at me makes me want to laugh, though I fight back tears. It is so hard to see my husband in such a state, especially knowing this was a man that took such pride in the way he looked and dressed.

One day while resisting assistance from me to help him get dressed, two hours past and he still was not able to put one leg through his pants. Finally he relented and gave in so I could help him, although he constantly protested, defending his lack of ability; saying he never wore those kinds of pants before and they just didn’t want to work for him.

I have finally learned to be quiet when he says certain things and quell my own frustration and simply say its okay. Otherwise,  he gets upset and shutdown and refuse to get dressed at all. When he gets stubborn that is it, and he goes deeper into a distraught mindset.

The picture of dementia is stark, shocking, aggravating, frustrating, and pitiful. It protects itself by making excuses for most things and denying everything else. I am amazed at the kinds of excuses my husband comes up with to make excuses for his lack of memory, understanding, or inability. Something as simple as pulling a chair out to sit down in can cause a problem and cause him to say the chair is different,  he never saw the chair before or sat in it, or it just isn’t right.

As crazy as some of his excuses and quips are, sometimes they are so on point that it makes me wonder is he is just fooling me and not having a problem, and there really is nothing wrong with him. Nevertheless, the reality of the truth makes me have to be strong and stand strong in what is before me that I cannot deny.  I keep reminding myself of Psalms 30:5...Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.  Faith and health helps me to know that one day this too shall pass.

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