The Slow Waltz Into Dementia

waltzanimYears before my siblings noticed the changes in my parents, I knew something was wrong with my mom. She seemed more argumentative and unreasonable about things that didn’t used to bother her. My husband noticed too. I inserted myself into several annual visits with the doctors, but all concerns my mom poo-pooed. We were noticing my mom was repeating conversations, past memories were altered, and that she had a growing concern about my dad’s memory. While Dad was willing to try memory testing, my mom wasn’t.

Then all of us started to notice that our Dad who was quite joker, was less talkative. The home was a little messier, and they were socializing less. I felt like I was in a constant dance that never progressed in any positive direction, nor that I could impact.

Over the next year, my siblings and I tried two different interventions. Our parents were not interested in our concerns. They could never remember any of the times they got lost driving, the dual contracts signed for the same home repairs, and they dismissed our concerns.

We moved into what I still believe is the worst part of the caregiving journey. My parent’s didn’t recognize how poorly they were doing and we were really concerned for their safety as well as the safety of others.  We had to wait for a critical incident to happen.

Waiting for something bad to happen before action was taken wasn’t typical of my parents. They were planners, and had planned well. But the cognitive decline both of my parent’s were experiencing meant they were unable to comprehend what was happening, and even the united efforts of me and my siblings didn’t sway my parent’s beliefs.

Eventually, dad broke his hip and my mom needed my help. She didn’t know how to get to the hospital and had no idea how to really transition dad from the hospital back home. Thankfully, she welcomed my help and I was able to get dad into the rehab wing of their continuing care retirement community.

Things returned to the prior state of disarray once dad had his strength back and began to drive. We waited for the next event. Thankfully, the next issue involved a doctor who submitted the papers to have my parent’s licenses’ revoked. It became a problem when they tore up the letters and refused to turn in their licenses. They continued to drive after their licenses were suspended which caused our next major crisis.

The reality is that there is no easy road. You do what you can. Thankfully, I started this blog so it’s easy for me to look back on the three years that were very difficult. We finally got to a point when my parents welcomed my help, but the road was very steep.Reflected. 


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12 thoughts on “The Slow Waltz Into Dementia

  1. Been there, done that, but with only one parent in denial and utter confusion about what was really going on. Two would be double the difficulties! It’s still hard for me to look back on taking the car keys away, the loss of independence for an adult is extremely hard to accept. Waiting for something bad to happen to be able to do it was awful too, seems you should be able to do it before someone gets hurt!

  2. It’s true, there is no easy road, and two parents with dementia has to be one of the ultimate challenges. Thank you for sharing your ups and downs through it all.

  3. Stopping dad from driving when he was convinced he was perfectly safe was one of the worst things to deal with. It was like we were destroying his life, taking away his pleasure and independence.

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Kay. It’s already challenging to have one parent with dementia, we can’t even phantom what it must really be like to learn that both have it. We sincerely wish the best for you and your family. We have included your article in our Weekly Digest because we know this will help our readers who are dealing with the same challenges. Yu can find it here:

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