Dementia Overseer

“Congratulations! You are the proud new overseer of a healthy, old, mentally decaying parent.”

Dementia is everything backwards. But it’s not just backwards. It’s sideways. Inside out. Reverse. Forward. Stop. Go. It blurs dreams, this world, other worlds, decades ago, today.

Dementia is a fucked up cut form of LSD that you’d ask your drug dealer for your money back.

It’s nearly impossible for me, the overseer, to explain to you. And it makes absolutely no sense for the person experiencing it.

As a one time user of hallucinogens, I get it. I know what she’s trying to explain.

“It’s like it all collapses.” My mom brings her hands together in a soft clap like she is praying.

“You have to believe me. My coffee pot and cell phone are not here!”

Oh I believe you. I know what you are saying. You are somewhere else, mother.

Tripping is almost impossible to explain to the uninitiated.

It must be so bizarre to start your hallucinating journey at age 79. My mom was once a highball drinker. But always had a strong negative bias to any other drugs. She always judged marijuana smokers as “stoners” or “pot heads.” Other drugs were so outrageous to her that she wouldn’t even discuss them.

Now her mind is doing it by itself.

The chemicals and connections are going haywire. Past and present and future move over her as she sits still. Her mind is no longer staying on the agreed human perception of time as a steady, forward moving line.

It’s clearly a bad trip. There’s anxiety, anger, fear, sadness. And I, the overseer, the dad that was once the son (and still am the son in a certain space and time) have little luck turning this trip around.

Sometimes I do though.

  • 72 of the Cutest Animals – a series I found on Netflix.
  • Her cell phone. “Just press and hold 4 to call your friend.” (She often times doesn’t believe me that’s how it’s done.)
  • She’s stealing stuff from her hospital bedroom bathroom right now.
  • Now she’s tying her hair back with torn apart plastic bags. She says this will be a good show for the neurologist that is supposed to come later today.

Whatever works.

She might really be losing it.

I’ve read that the thing about crazy people is that they often times know they are crazy. But they do it anyway.

That’s how it feels right now.

She’s letting her mind go. You can feel the fight leaving. Reality just isn’t worth the struggle.

I can’t say I blame her. End of life reality is not pleasant. The built in anxiety of dementia is overwhelming.

So far, it doesn’t seem to bother me. When the all night fits start, that I’ve read about, that might be a different story.

I see this is part of the life journey. It’s not causing her physical pain. It’s an ebb and flow of mental anxiety that I’m hoping someone has a pill for.

Dementia runs in my family. I’ve seen this all before.

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)

My grandmother would say that over and over and over again.

Try finding that poem in the ’80s without the Internet.

It was just the obscure thing she would repeat hour after hour. Day after day.

And then she would pee herself. Then she’d shit herself.

The first time you see dementia is the worst time.

This is the part I think I can handle.

The trickier part is balancing this with the rest of my life.

My wife. My kid. My business.

These are the things that really worry me. Can they handle the new dementia patient in their lives?

Where does the line get drawn? When can they not take any more?

How do you balance the needs and desires between all these people?

My mom is wrapping up. These other people are my future.

My past pokes and prods my future. I can’t let my past ruin my future. But my past still is my present.

And that’s where my own mind gets fuzzy. What will happen? How will it play out? What direction will all this go? How will I keep this time and space balanced so none of it collapses?

We’ll just see. Hopefully the path will become clear as we move down it.

16 thoughts on “Dementia Overseer

  1. I’m so sorry to hear this Sage. I too have seen the toll that dementia can take on someone very special to you. By all means make sure that they check for a vitamin B12 deficiency. Some people have this and not dementia. Also look into homeopathy. I know you walk to the beat of a different drummer, so maybe alternative medicine won’t scare you off. With my own mom, I felt like her journey and suffering was more about how my siblings and I responded than necessarily about her. I wish you the all the strength you need to carry you through this journey.

    • Thank you so much! I’ll definitely give B12 a try.

      I think you are right about it being more about the people around the parent.

      Thanks so much for writing!


  2. Alice Morrill says:

    Play her favorite music and songs. Music is a powerful tool with Dementia ,Alzheimers , they can really respond positively . The Memory People is a great Facebook Group Support of family and friends .

  3. This is so sad, Sage. She is my friend! Last time we spoke I thought something was off. My sympathies to all of you. Where is she currently?

    • Thank you! She’s in the hospital now. They are doing some tests with the neurologists. So I’m hopeful they can get her something that makes her more comfortable.

  4. Oh Sage my heart is sad and heavy with emotion. Your Mom was always full of laughter and opinions and ideas about any topic you presented. Her quick wit and humor followed by a laughter that you cannot forget. I see so much of her in you. I know being in a wheelchair is difficult, however this is not only difficult but also demanding of your constant attention. My prayers and thoughts are with all of you. I am saddened…

  5. Margie Johns says:

    Sage, I do not really ever respond to Tweets, but this one has me so sad. You put this horrible fact that no one else has yet to do. I will say this, You and your family have been amazing people. If you do not know this, I will tell you Your son has given her the happiness as only children can, Your marriage and Rocky has given her the security that You are being cared for. All Moms are care givers and this is a very hard thing to see when you, Clayde may feel no longer useful, or needed!!!!! Stay strong, don’t change, and know how much you all are loved. My prayers are with you, Rocky and Indy. Jamies’ Mom, Margie.

    • Thank you SO much! So far I’m feeling pretty strong about it all.

      I’m trying to look at this as a unique opportunity to rise to the occasion and spend a little more time with my mom.

  6. Sorry your going through this Sage. It really sux..

  7. Pam Clouston says:

    Sage, I am sorry that this is happening to Auntie Claude. I have spoken to her several times recently, and wondered if she was having a mental decline. Please let me know how she is doing. We may be coming to Ohio in Sept. Hopefully I will be able to see her then.

    • That would be very cool. Thank you! I think the goal is to just keep her comfortable and happy. She still remembers everyone and likes to read.

  8. We’ll all find the balance of family together, and Indy and I are not going anywhere. We love you so much. You’re our rock. Thanks for taking this on like the Elder Warrior you have become. We’ve always been a great team and this is no exception. I’m here for you and I’ll do my best. We’ll get through this and we’ll be better as a family, and individuals, because of it.

    I often think the best argument against suicide is that you never know your influence on others and can never fully understand the gifts you give to those around you. Your Mother is no exception. She’s still giving, even if she cannot see or understand it. It’s really, really hard, but it’s also really valuable in ways we probably cannot fully grasp in the moment. Love you.

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