This week I was deeply moved by a phone call by a woman asking about resources on the topic of dementia. It’s a close to home but hard to talk about topic. Here are a few of the real challenges we agreed on:
1) It’s a new issue. Because we are living longer, with better medical care, dementia is an increasingly common condition among seniors. Because most of our grandparents died before their brains began to deteriorate, we lack the generational memory for how to deal with this increasingly common reality.
2) Learning to parent our parents as they move into a second childhood is hard. It is challenging enough to deal with irrational behaviour with young children, who require our supervision to be safe, but in that case we know they will outgrow these stages. How can we still honour the parents who raised us and make decisions for them which they can no longer, but may still want to make? How can we soften the humiliation as they incrementally lose control of their lives?
3) Finding safe places to share the challenges is hard. We don’t want to speak poorly of the parents we love and honour, and it can be humiliating for them when others learn about their dementia. And yet, we need to find our way of providing the assistance they need and doing the self-care we need to remain healthy.
4) Finding resources is hard. There are a few good books and videos out there, but we need more. Thank goodness for places like Common Word that make them easy to access. If you know of another helpful resource, please add it as a comment. This is an challenge we need to help each meet.