Witnessing dementia in your loved one is one of the most difficult things one can ever face. Even if it is the early stages of the disease, confronting the vulnerability of the person who we have seen strong is very painful. The emotional consequences are endless, for me atleast they were.
My mother is suffering from dementia for the past 2 years. The doctor diagnosed that it wasn’t the early stages. Although she had a habit of keeping things and then forgetting them, but we thought that was normal. Mom frequently wrote notes to herself and kept leaving them all around the house. She is just 50 and I can’t see her like this. Now, I’m her only caregiver as I lost my father 5 years ago. Plus, I don’t have any other sibling. However, after the doctor’s diagnosis, I decided to take her responsibility and do everything that was necessary.
When your parent starts forgetting, there is one thing that you always wonder:‘How much longer we will be managing to remain in their minds?’ After all, my mom should be worrying about me, it shouldn’t be the way around.
How the struggle became simple?
To get back her smile I tried many things but there was something that she got interested in. Online crossword puzzles. Yes! I’ve seen her solving crossword puzzles in the Sunday newspaper when I was a kid. She had a habit of quickly finishing all the household chores and then sit back with a cup of coffee in one and the newspaper in the other hand. She had her breakfast while solving the puzzle and the next week she should look for the solved answers. One of my friends told me about Wealth Words crossword. And trust me, they are simply amazing. The added benefit of offering cash prize lures her. There are different types of crosswords: basic crosswords, story-based crosswords and poem -based crosswords. She loves trying all of them. Her imagination takes her into another world while she is solving crosswords and this can be seen on her face.
Worry took a life of its own. I had to cope with the stress realizing that the roles have changed. What she has done for me throughout her life is there in my mind. I feel, taking care of her is my way to pay her back. I have been depriving my own pleasures to be with her. It not only gives me contentment but also makes her feel protected. She loves talking to neighbors, playing daily crosswords, watching movies. I make sure she does everything she loves.
Here is what I recommend to those whose loved ones are suffering from Dementia:
- Study Dementia in detail
- Step into your role
- Determine the level of care you can give
- Make them play mind games like online crosswords
- Talk, talk, talk,
- Give them a reason to live
Over time, I realized that she will improve her condition with the right kind of care given. I’m with her from the past 2 years. Seen her worrying, forgetting, smiling, crying, all of that. She knows I’m the only one who would calm her anxieties and I love when she lays her head on my shoulder.
I know she is losing her mental acuity but easy crossword puzzles make her happy. I’ve acted like an independent-minded senior who is a patient caregiver. Well I believe, ‘everything will be fine one day”.