Living with a person who has dementia
Is like dealing with someone in absentia.
She is not the girl you used to know;
Not the same personality - oh no!
You remember traits that attracted you to
And wonder how they disappeared for sure;
The smile – the brightness – that were her
What happened to dispel that spark?
What caused the memory of years to be erased
Where her mind once had them placed?
Your life together is suddenly askew,
And changes abound in what you do.
The days you shared in plans and active
Soon evolve into constant care-giving.
Empathy for your wife is surely felt,
But you have to play the hand you are dealt!
It seems implausible that people she once
To her now seem like people “out of the
There are pieces of the past that she
Strange how she will or won’t know family
There seems to be a wall-blocking
Try as hard as you might to get her
Health, nutrition, scrapbooks used to occupy
As well as pleasure with music, books, and
The agenda she once had is now long done
As the hours of inactivity go on and on.
If there is no agenda, then there is no way
She can project any interest for the next
Moods are unpredictable – ever a surprise
As for the reason, you can only fantasize.
Contrary, cantankerous, combative are words
The moods we experience in a given day.
But then there are times when things are
And behavior is acceptable and formal.
Oddly, it seems that in some strange way
Her mind is still working on projects of
Disconnected bits come out in conversation
Defying our best attempts at clarification.
Language can run the gamut from wise to
To match some actions that are truly inane.
Things in our home have their allotted
You soon learn they’ve been moved to other
About papers – she’ll roll them, fold them,
If they are really important, try to find
How often we’ve heard “I know what I am
When it is an impossible idea she is
She is still strong-willed – solid as
She’ll stick to her guns; she will not
All of which tells you we don’t know what to
expect next –
We know, however, that we may be perplexed.
I’ve not done this realistic picture of Jane
out of self pity,
Nor would I mean to disparage her with this
One obvious result is an unrelenting test
For the care-givers to do their best!
The challenge is: with patience and
To show compassion in the midst of
In the surrealistic world of caregiving,
There are illogical aspects of everyday
Each day is different – and yet each day is
We try to do our duty without rancor or
Psychiatrists can describe dementia to the
Believe me, “living it” describes it better.
I’ve told you in detail how Jane’s illness
Let me now say where the emphasis should be
The cruel blow suffered by Jane, who knows
something is wrong
As she languishes through days that are
puzzling and long:
The heartbreak embodied in her plaintive
As she questions, “What ever happened to me?”
The question “Where are the kids?” she asks
now and then;
Having to be told again that they are now
The irony in her insistence on “wanting to go
While she is reminded that she designed our
We ponder the mystery of why this illness
To someone as good and loving and generous as
To someone who was ready at all times in her
To aid others who needed help in times of
And, of course, “Why?” is the question we all
To answer that is an unexplainable task.
I suppose we’ll have heavenly erudition
To begin to explain this human condition.
So – until we all reach those dominions
We’ll keep on praying and live one day at a