Sometimes caregiving for a person with dementia becomes so difficult and absurd that the only possible response is— laugh.
Yesterday, I was cleaning out files. The box of paper to be recycled was overflowing. My husband wandered upstairs to check in.
“Can I do anything to help you?” he asked, as he often does. (I am blessed with a sweet-tempered, cooperative demented person, not like some caregivers who deal with belligerence.)
“Well, yes,” I answered. “I need a large garbage bag for these papers.”
“Where are the bags?” he asked. (Are you paying attention? Most spouses would know where to find the garbage bags.)
I told him, “In the cabinet to the left of the sink. They’re in a box under the medium sized bags.” I illustrated the size spreading my arms. “About this big.”
He turned to go on his errand. Stopped. “What am I getting?”
“A large garbage bag.”
“Where are they?”
I told him again. (By this time, I’m already thinking I should go get the bag myself. But he wants so badly to be helpful.)
He made little grunts as he went downstairs–his arthritic knees complaining.
He was gone a while. I moved on to thinning out the notes pinned to my bulletin board.
He came back holding—
three packages of snacks!!
Chip Ahoys. Cheddar rice cakes. Fig Newtons.
“Is this what you wanted?” he asked.
I looked at the snacks. I looked at his face. This dear man, who tries so hard, who vehemently denies his condition. (“I don’t believe it,” he says.)
What could I do? I laughed and hugged him hard and long.
Then I took the snacks and went downstairs to get the garbage bag.
Caregiving is challenging. That’s why I value my caregiver group. We Zoom twice a month. These are the women who understand. Who often can offer resources to assist with a problem.
Here are two excellent resources for caregivers:
Ulster County Office for the Aging 845-340-3456
1003 Development Court, Kingston, NY 12401