One of the additional challenges to dementia is the speed in which it progress. In my experience with two parents, one with Alzheimer’s and another with Vascular Dementia, they both progressed pretty slowly in hind-sight.
I’ve been invited to speak at local libraries and community centers on the topic of caring for a loved one with dementia. Tonight, I’m scheduled to provide a presentation on caregiving and the holidays. As I prepared for this topic, I looked back at my last three Thanksgivings.
Thanksgiving 2011: My parents were still driving and splitting their time between their home and the retirement community. They got lost driving to my house. I lived less than 5 miles away and they had been to our home hundreds of times. I got a call from a motorist who helped redirect them 30 minutes after they were to arrive and then didn’t hear from them for 1.5 more hours! My Dad had a cell phone, but never used it and of course it wasn’t in the car with him. I went to pick them up at a gas station more than 15 miles from my house. The meal was cold and we avoided the topic of my parent’s getting lost. It was an awkward meal.
Thanksgiving 2012: My parents were no longer driving so I picked them up at the retirement community. My Mom was very anxious and ill-tempered. I gave her my baby book to look through as we finished getting ready for the meal which seemed to sooth her disposition. We all pushed away from the table with indigestion. It was an uncomfortable meal.