I don’t talk about my uncle here much anymore, and part of me is sorry for that, but part of me understands that I’m at a place where I struggle to find humor in the situation. Alzheimer’s is a disgusting, terrible disease, but my uncle and I share the ability to laugh about most things. The last month or so has been hard as we are moving towards the prospect of putting him into the nursing home.
Let me just say that this is never some decision that is taken lightly. While there is a certain kind of relief in the thought, there is also a ton of guilt.
He’s so young to be there.
He could probably hold out here a bit longer.
It’s not that bad, is it?
Yes. Yes it is. And we can’t give him the kind of care he needs here any longer.
But it never fails that everyone else has an opinion on the matter. Let me explain. When you become a caregiver, everyone else knows the answers to all your problems. They’ve all of a sudden got it all figured out. And their vocal. I mean, people will come out of the woodwork to tell you how to improve your life, fix your situation, and best of all, explain what it will be like to care for someone.
Everyone becomes a doctor specializing in Alzheimer’s.
Everyone becomes a life coach.
Everyone knows the answer except me.
So today I’m bringing you the answers, as given to me countless times by people who aren’t in my situation, aren’t caring for a loved one, aren’t dealing with someone with Alzheimer’s, and doesn’t know what the heck they’re talking about.
Thank you, you egotistical jerks for bringing the laughter back.
1. You should come over? I can’t. I’ve got to stay home with my uncle. Oh he’ll be fine. Just let him stay on his own for a bit. He could probably use some time to himself. It’s got to be hard for him with the kids and all around. He’ll appreciate it.
Yes, well. Let’s just leave the man in the house alone who has hallucinations and sees people that aren’t there. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it when he’s trying to chase the bad guys out of his room alone. Or when he goes up in the attic to try to find his hunting rifles. Or when he gets mad about the invisible people trying to steal his truck. He obviously just needs some alone time. I’ll bring the hallucinations with me so he can get some rest.
2. He’d probably be happier if you let him do some of the things he used to like to do.
Of course he would. Tell you what, I’ll pack him up with all his fishing gear and hunting rifles. I’ll dress him in camo and you can just have yourself a blast taking him out to do all the outdoorsy things he used to love. Hell, I’ll even let him drive over and meet you there. . .so you can walk around the woods. . .with a man who can no longer recognize his own reflection in a mirror. Happy hunting.
3. Just put him in a home and move on with your life. You’re too young to be doing this.
Let me just say how happy it makes me to know that most of the people have this sort of advice. These are the future caregivers. “Just throw them in a home and move on with your life.” Gotcha. I’ll toss my morals, ethics, and soul right into a bag with him. I mean, this is such an easy decision to make, right? Sure. You just make sure you call me when you get older and I won’t beat around the bush. I’ll send you off to Shady Pines in a flash. It’s what you’d want.
4. I talked to him the other day and he seemed just fine. He didn’t even repeat himself much.
Yes, welcome to the wonders of Alzheimer’s. . .you know. . .that disease we know next to nothing about? Moments of clarity are wonderful little rays of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy mind. You got him on a good day. Good for you! Oh, did he just tell you the same story for the twelfth time? Welcome back to reality.
5. Have you even considered trying him back on medication? He wasn’t on it that long. I think it would benefit him to try again.
You mean the medications that turned moderately controllable hallucinations into episodes that involved knives and the police being called? Right. I’ll get right on that. . .as soon as my super strength returns and my order of Super Healing Potion comes in from FedEx.
6. Do you know what dementia does to the brain? -Proceeds to give me a long lecture on how the disease effects the brain, the short term memory, emotions, etc.-
Well aren’t you a happy little font of information. After living with my grandfather who suffered from dementia and now caring for my uncle. . .I really had no clue what this disease was doing, or how it worked. It’s a constant surprise over here. The doctors have told me nothing, and I was never one to learn from my past. It really is good you were here to explain all this to me with your extensive medical knowledge. . .Where did you get your degree again?
7. This can be destructive to a family. You need to just find a way to get him out from your inner circle before it causes problems with the core of the family.
You don’t say? Get him out of my inner circle? I suppose I should just put him down then, like a dog that might bite my children. In fact, why do we even bother to be caretakers for our sick and our elderly? It’s obvious that it could be draining and cause emotional frustration. We should just stick them somewhere away from us and let them die.
So to all of you who like to have these conversations with me, I just want to share my and my family’s heartfelt thank you. Now shut up.
*This post includes a lot of sarcasm. I certainly don’t feel like we shouldn’t care for our sick or elderly, or that they should be euthanized.
**Also, my uncle has never physically hurt anyone, but part of this disease does involve aggressive behavior, anger management issues, and the belief that everyone is out to “get them”.
Herstory Lesson: If there were a quick fix to every issue, no one would have any problems.