As a professional in the field of aging, Sara had seen it all—until her own mother broke her hip at the age of 88 and became profoundly confused, unable to live in her own home. Join Sara on her journey through the strangeness that is dementia while trying to make sense of it all and finding humor in the details. [Editor's note: Sara no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]
Definition, caregiver: A person with knowledge of, the patience for, and an interest in taking care of old or disabled adults and who does so with kindness and compassion. Not everyone who takes care of an old or disabled adult is a caregiver.
It’s bad form to say to a caregiver, “I don’t know how you do this job. I could never care for demented people.” That kind of comment belittles the work and disrespects the caregiver. However, the truth is, I am constitutionally ill suited to spend my day with demented people. Miraculously—and fortunately for all of us—lots of fine men and women find satisfaction in sheltering, supervising, and protecting human beings who are unpredictable and often bizarre and combative.
A couple of days ago I visited Gaffney House, my mother’s assisted living facility, and walked in to find Ula swinging away at Ashu, who was trying to get her to sit down in a chair. It’s entirely possible that Ula was a friendly person before contracting dementia, but maybe not. Maybe she has always been a bitch, as my mother calls her. My mother never called anyone a bitch before she became demented. That’s the unfortunate deal with dementia: it seldom improves one’s behavior or outlook. (Below: Gaffney House caregivers Amelewrk, left, and Ashu, right.)
If I had the power, I would declare a National Caregiver Day in honor of every caregiver who accompanies and shepherds demented people through to the end.
By Sara Myers
A Good Enough Daughter Blog