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 © | Year Posted 2017

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Date: 7/18/2017 4:37:00 AM
I spent three years with my wife suffering from dementia. She died from heart failure, but I dread what what have happened if got any worse with her dementia.
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M. L. Kiser
Date: 7/18/2017 7:44:00 AM
I certainly can sympathize; it is not easy to be around anyone with the disease; so hard to watch them go down. The disease not only strips them of their memory, but the ability to swallow, chew, feed themselves, etc. I hope that some day the disease will have a complete cure. Love and empathy, to you, my friend.
Date: 7/17/2017 1:50:00 PM
What a painful and sad poem. Your telling it tugs at my heart
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M. L. Kiser
Date: 7/17/2017 2:30:00 PM
I'm still healing from those days; I've posted some on Alzheimer's websites, but this one had never been posted. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, again.