Dementia is a family affair

KayandCarlyMy daughter and I were recently interviewed for a show called We Choose Respect. We shared our story about how to watch, care, and manage through life when you have a loved one, in our case, my parents, with dementia. This is the second interview I have had in the past month in which sharing this journey with my kids seems out of the norm. I didn’t really recognize it, but I know I made this decision purposefully with my husband.

Many parents choose to shield their children from adult topics and issues. In this case, I just don’t know how I would have managed. We spent a lot of time with my parents and my kids witnessed some bizarre things. They also lived through mom running out of the house to help my parents late at night, supported me through visits when things were really wacky and my parents were fighting to maintain their lifestyle, and they have overheard discussions with my husband and siblings about what is going on with “nana” and “pop-pop.”

I believe that having my children understand this journey, helps them understand how to be a loving, respectful, adult child, even when the roles start to reverse. I sure hope my kids won’t have to help us. However, knowing that 7 out of 10 adults that turn 65 will need 3 or more years of long-term care means that the odds are not in our favor. As a country, and a culture, we really don’t know how to address the fact that most of our parents didn’t want to linger, but the reality is that we really don’t have any choice but to keep them safe and comfortable.

I’m humbled by my daughter’s ability to absorb and incorporate what we have all learned on the journey to deliver loving care with grace and humor. As she so eloquently stated, “If someone you love forgets you, well, you remember them, and you can love them as long as you cherish those memories” Cherished. 

To hear this interview, you can find it on itunes, or listen from your computer at http://www.wechooserespect.com/