Thursday, June 18, 2020

Dementia and Family Dynamics

My mother has Frontal Temporal Dementia. Her father was never properly diagnosed, he developed dementia in his late seventies. My sisters and I remember the pure chaos that grandad's "illness" caused our mom. My mother, was her father's main and only caregiver, My heart breaks a little when I think about all the nonsense that she went thru with her siblings. My grandfather's disease caused for my aunts and uncles to drift apart, leaving my poor mom to deal with the broken pieces on her own. She had to be her father's champion all on her own, not even our father wanted to help her. In a time when Alzheimer's and Dementia were referred to as"senility" just getting old. I'm talking about more than 35 years ago. 

It is not until now that my heart sinks when I think back of the many arguments she had with my father about my grandad's, "odd behavior". My father didn't want him to live with us. My mom was trying so desperately to convince him to please reconsider. He said NO! I clearly have memories of my mom apologizing to the neighbors for whatever he had done that caused problems. At that point and time my mom was still working full time, thank god my sisters and I were grown up by then. My younger sister has the most bitter memories of my mom trying to handle the many situations that would unfold. The cruel reality that she was all alone and nobody could or would help her. She was on her own. Her brothers and sisters had walked away and wouldn't help. Sound familiar? Alzheimer's and Dementia does this to many families. 

It either rips families apart or brings them closer together, which is always the ideal, nut not necessarily the reality. More often is the first. The relationship between parent and child comes in to play many times. If the relationship (parent /child) was plagued with chaos, when growing up, that emotional baggage will show its ugly head in how they react and handle the disease. Meaning, if they are involved in the care of the parent they will display an antagonistic attitude. Many times denial can be the culprit, as the son or daughter often says, "ugh there is nothing wrong with him or her, they are just pretending". This is a disease that affects every member of the household. For us is my younger sister, my mom reacts to her in a very Dr.Jekyll Mr. Hyde sort of way. We never know what will trigger my mom's negative outburst towards my sister. This has created a situation, where my sister keeps her distance from our mom. Yes, she should know better. But the fact that she is our mom affects my sister a lot. The emotional strings attached to this disease are many.

My sisters and I have agreed to work together for our mom's sake. We do have our many differences, and at times we are at odds with each other for different reasons, but when it comes to our mom's care all of that static goes out the window. We are there to handle situations as they arise. 

This is why it is essential if you find yourself in a situation where you need support to find it wherever you can. A friend, a neighbor, or a support group. You can't do this alone! You shouldn't do this alone! It is very unfortunate when families can't find common ground to help their loved ones. For your sanity, you have to shut that door. You need to save your energy to care for the person with Alzheimer's or Dementia, they need you the most! Remember you are not a one-person show. 

Out of my grandfather's six children, 3 developed Dementia my mom included. Two of them passed away when they were still young, I think that if they had lived longer, there would have been a huge possibility that they would have developed the disease if they had gone to their sixties or seventies. That worries me a LOT, as it has been proven that it is hereditary. There is a strong genetic connection. We shall see. It's a bumpy road we need to: 

Be prepared, Be Informed, Be Empowered. 
I send you lots of positive virtual energy. 
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