At the beginning of my time as a caregiver, I was easily flummoxed by my care recipients. I couldn’t quite figure out the inconsistencies they exhibited, and which one of us was the one losing it, on any given day.
In the case of Katie, my own mother, as her dementia increased the rules of engagement, so to speak, became clearer. However, without warning, every once in a while Katie would present herself as the woman of old, and we’d have what I thought was a “normal” conversation. During those talks, we would look into the future and she would agree that when my brother had to return to work and the health care system would provide no more homecare services, then it would be time for her to live in a care facility, which we would make sure was close by either my brother or me. When next we talked, in person or via telephone, I would be blown away by the fact that my mother apparently had no recollection of our previous conversation, and would have no recollection of our decisions, or would become very angry about me trying to get rid of her by shoving her into a home and never visiting her. Without a doubt, this kind of inconsistency can be crazy making for we caregivers, because the care recipient is so lucid that we think, for some reason, that the care recipient is back to “normal”. Most likely what really is going on for the caregiver is that we hope beyond all reason that things will be better, at least for a little while, and any semblance of normalcy fans these embers of hope.
That said, our care recipients seem to be taking acting classes to keep one step ahead of we mortals and sometimes-gullible caregivers. Using Annie Oakley as an example, one minute she is completely lucid in conversations about the past, present, and future. Then, when we think of something that needs talking about and decide to embark on a discussion given she’s totally clear headed; we are greeted by an imposter of the women with which we’d conversed very recently. If we are wise during that moment, we will cut the conversation short and plan to return later; but, if we are not being wise, we will attempt to settle the matter at hand but end up wanting to smack our heads against the wall. Come to think of it, these moments remind us that we have got ourselves into a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation from which we are unwilling to extricate ourselves…at least not just yet.
Yours in caregiving…
*Photo courtesy of CCBImages