Other Elders… (edited)

‘There are other elders in my life that are struggling, whether they know it or not, with cognitive decline. It’s very sad to observe. As my nurse daughter said three-ish years ago, “Mom, you had deep context for dementia.” Once you’ve been through what I’ve been through, seeing dementia is easy. Not easy like knowing if someone’s sneeze is due to allergies or a cold, but easy like I know when our cat is lying through his pointy teeth about starving to death, but you won’t.

One is a very dear friend on the Island. I’m seeing that she doesn’t recall who said what when… I’ve been observing this for over a year. When I was last on the Island, I told her I wasn’t vaccinated. We had a conversation about it. That info didn’t stick. In the same trip she also combined my telling her about my mom’s passing, last May, in the same phone call that she told me of her dear friend’s passing. She had called me weeks earlier when her friend passed. This may seem like little stuff, yet I’ve been concerned for a while. She is competent, works part-time in her retirement, just build a studio, and the signs are there. Our last conversation about dementia included her saying, “…Well, I don’t think I have any problems!” I smiled and acknowledged what she said.

Another Island friend is showing similar signs. We write more than we talk, and this is where its showing up. At first I thought it was her writing (she’s not a very good writer), but inconsistencies kept poking through. It seems like with a written record, one would go back to make sure what you’re saying/relaying is mostly staying on track. We all goof up here and there. I know I do. The point is I know I do! She doesn’t. And she does it on social media too.

As mentioned previously, my uncle, my mother’s brother, is also having problems. He called the other day and was full of concern for his wife, who has given up her practice, and does everything: Cooks, cleans, the taxes, all the shopping (w/out a car), and arranges and attends all of his medical appointments. Sounds like a care giver. Evidently my aunt doesn’t want my uncle to ride his bike anymore. And like his sister, there was the undercurrent of mistrust as he told me about falling flat on his back in a puddle on the street, and is only now recovering from the injury caused by the man who ‘yanked’ him up to his feet. His wife in no way could have picked him up. She is the personification of petite. He told me he was still relatively healthy, but was going through a lot of medical appointments with many yet to come. I didn’t ask what for.

My mother-in-law, at 80, is starting to stroll this path. Our conversations are extremely repetitive. Her sister has written to us about the same observation. 8-years ago, I would have said that this was due to someone being ingrained in their dialogue. It’s not. She tells us the same things over and over as if it’s the first time she’s shared the info with us. If we say, “Oh yes, you shared that with us…” It does’t stop the re-sharing. Kind of a classic sign. We spoke over the weekend. A sweet call in which she tried to assure me that the therapy garden rollout she saw me do was an outdoor event. And that she’d been to more than one of them. One thing I learned, hard learned, with my mom, was not to interrupt or turn mom’s reality towards mine. Outdoor therapy garden demo aside, my mama-in-law is reaping the benefits of what was so hard to learn along the path walked with my mom.


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