Friday, September 14, 2012
I thought I knew what dementia meant. I thought it was about forgetting things. I thought if someone had it REAL bad they tended to wander away or forget who you were and that was Alzheimer's.
Well I was wrong. I didn't realize the degree of unreasonable self-orientation involved in dementia!
I've gotten used to Dad breaking in with a trivial question involving past or future events while I am trying to get dinner on the table. I am used to him bugging me about having lunch ready promptly at noon and dinner at 6 pm. He was ALWAYS fussy about schedules.
I am used to him complaining unsensibly. If the TV shows a poor news video, he complains that my (Big Screen HD Plasma 1080) TV is poor quality. If there isn't anything he wants to watch, he complains I have a poor cable system (1,000 and "57 channels and nothings on"...). The sink water doesn't get hot immediately.
My favorite last week was that he needed a calendar because he couldn't tell what day it was. He couldn't figure out why looking at a calendar wouldn't tell him what day it was.
But today was a new low. I don't mean that he said he had another family for a decade or that I wasn't his son. Not THAT level.
But... I have people here putting new siding on the house. Its noisy work, and they have a job to do. Dad is normally happy watching Fox News and listening to the talking heads. I've been mostly staying outside watching them work (its fascinating), and I make sure to ask Dad how things are going every hour or so.
Well, apparently Fox News was replaying a speech by Paul Ryan and all the hammering annoyed him. When I came in, Dad was ANGRY. "They should have stopped all the hammering during his speaking (sic), out of respect"!
Dad: "They should have stopped when someone important was speaking"!
Me: "Dad, they have a job to do. They have a schedule".
Dad: "It was disrespectful"!
Me: "Dad, you're being unreasonable. They didn't know someone was speaking and they wouldn't stop working if they did. I don't care if a politician is speaking. Most of the world wouldn't care. People have to keep doing their jobs.
Dad: "YOU'RE NOT UNDERSTANDING ME! THIS WAS IMPORTANT"!
US: (Some repetitive back-and-forth angry/calming words)
Me: "Dad, please sit down, watch your political TV. I'm busy!" (leaves house)
I was completely surprised by the whole event. I accept the daily forgetfulness, I accept his confusion about bills, etc (and I can deal with that); but I hadn't seen the irrationality involving a real-time event on such a personal level before. And it wasn't at sundown...
Mom became physically unable while still mentally competent. Dad is losing his mind first (though physical incompetence is catching up rapidly).
More about all that next time.