Right now I’m reading yet another book from the library about dementia. By now, I’ve at least glanced at each book in their collection, and read a number of them from cover to cover with care and interest. What’s different for me about this one is that it’s targeted to caregivers. So far I’ve been avoiding these books, fussing that they ignore the unique experience and needs of those of us living with the brain assault directly. Instead, they can get caught up in the details of coping with all the problems the affected person brings along to the family members caring for them.
Until this book came along, it’s been easy to whine a variation of, “I know that most caregivers have thankless jobs and need all the support they can find, but….” or, crankier, “Hey, I’m the one with the incurable, fatal disease here, how come I have to search so hard for a little support?”
Anyway, back to my reading. First, the title had caught my eye, When Your Loved One Has Dementia, A Simple Guide for Caregivers. A slim, unpretentious little volume, the authors’ credit is shared by five women. The tone is down-to-earth and respectful, without sugar-coating a thing. For instance, right in the middle of the section on communicating with your demented partner, they drop in this cruel little nugget, words that eloquently summarize the despair that devastates both partners:
“One of the the difficult things about dementia for you is losing the support and encouragement of your partner, the very things that make a partnership."
Right! Here comes one of the worse nightmares Jane and I could ever have imagined, and our strongest deterrent, our time-tested relationship, begins to morph and shift under us. Now I’m reading about “child-proofing” electrical outlets, and “Problems Meeting Goals of Continence Care.”
The chapter ends with another story…..Here’s an excerpt…
A woman, Olivia, whose sister Yvette is pretty far along the Dementia Continuum, invites Yvette to move in with her…"Once Yvette adjusted to the new situation, it appeared that Olivia’s dining room was going to be one of her favorite places. She liked to sit at one side of the dining room table and look out the large window across the room. She usually fiddled with the small objects Olivia had on display on the buffet or rummaged in the buffet to look for things to hold and move about."…. "Olivia added other things that Yvette liked to fiddle with in the buffet drawers and shelves: yarn, fabric squares, colorful magazines, postcards, and costume jewelry. She changed the items frequently so that Yvette had new things to examine.”
OK, now re-read the story and imagine that the part of Yvette, the demented human, was instead played by an inquisitive, spoiled, curious, sensuous CAT. As Yvette, a cat would know just how to go about finding the perfect spot in the sun while inscrutably taking in this whole wide world we all share.
There is so much to learn about wonder and mystery from a cat.
Maybe I can turn into one!!??!!!