Caregiver On The Brink
Bone-drained, there is no respite, no split second of peace. The “sundowner”, a hyper-active toddler in a man’s vehicle, never sleeps nor sits.
When I succumb to that one precious moment of rest; I am awakened to a furnace running full blast in a freezing cold house and on a nineteen degree night. A butter knife has removed a window; the culprit and dementia-mind panics; he’s terrified of being trapped in a fire. There’s no arguing with dementia-mind; it’s best to play along with the his ideas.
Another day of madness and I awake to a frantically screeching doorbell; it’s his nurse. I've revived in the floor. A migraine faint pulled me down; I’ve had no sleep for eight nights, you see. Sweet respite…she says she’ll, “sit with him”, so I can lie down a bit; a pleasant miracle; such happenstance is a rarity.
Dementia-mind has no solutions, only hallucinations, delusions; absence of mind and aggression for the “sundowners”. I watch at breakfast, as he pours his milk upon the floor; he has no clue of what he is doing or why;
he stares, mindless. When the eyes go blank it’s obvious; he’s not in there. A robot gone haywire, used to be my Father. The last thing to go, were his mathematical skills. Dementia-mind has forgotten so many people; how to swallow, but recalls numbers…
“Who is that man?” he demands, pointing at himself in the mirror. My exhausted mind briefly forgets and I mistakenly reply, “You dad.” The firestorm is initiated; he calls me a, “liar”. Self recognition has failed him now; the flame of his mind is burning low; soon to extinguish.
He’s fed and dressed, but I’ve no time to eat; if he should sleep an hour today; I must cook for the week. It’s the only opportunity I have…when and if he sleeps. I must not go to the bathroom; he’ll break something or fall. I must hold myself until my sister arrives.
The “passives” are painful to watch, as they deteriorate, but the “sundowners” are constant exhaustion. I was in the ER, almost as much as, he. You see, there’s no one to care for the caregiver, but themselves and when they can’t, exhaustion and malnutrition escalate. Dementia-mind is round-the-clock work and two doing the work of six people, takes its’ toll. The disease never discriminates; it destroys everyone.
(My Father died with dementia, a form of Alzheimer's in 2003, after a 15 year battle.)
Copyright © M. L. Kiser | Year Posted 2017