Dementia has two sides: the friendly outer shell and the deep inner circle. Oftentimes, I hear, “your grandma is so much fun,” but this is only partially true. Sure, she has funny comments, but sometimes I think they think we’re like Rick and Morty fighting off intergalactic monsters with light sabers. Or maybe, that’s my idea of a fun time.
The reality is that dementia is all about the inner circle. This is the black hole that will inevitably suck you in. You take your loved one out, and they are compliant. Say for instance, you take them to the doctor’s office where they are always sure to behave when you want to doctor to see what you see daily. With Gran, I take her to church and she’s charming and cute, luring everyone in with her smiles and comments. As soon as we arrive home, I will hear, “This is the last time I’m coming; the way you people treat me!” (She still thinks she’s only a guest in our home.)
This post isn’t meant to show Gran in a negative light; she cannot help what she does. This post is meant to inform about the inner circle. For the longest time, I did not believe in this inner circle. Long before I took care of Gran, I would stop in to check on my great-great aunt (longevity is kind of our thing), and she was always polite to me, which I reported to my cousin Kay. Later, when she was in a nursing home, I stopped in to visit once again.
“Oh thank God you’re here. I’m ready to go home,” she threw her hands up in the air.
“Aunt Judy, I cannot take you home.”
“Uh, I have to work.”
“Well, call Donna.”
“Donna isn’t feeling well.”
“I see how you’re going to be. You’re not even going to try,” she said coldly, and she wheeled herself away.
Of course I couldn’t remove her from the home, but to my aunt, I was someone she knew who was not helping her. Once again, I reported my visit to Kay, who replied, “Welcome, to the inner circle.” I was finally part of the club.
For those of you who caregive on regular basis, hang in there. Being a part of the inner circle is rough. If only Rick and Morty could pull you out. Until then, be sure to apply for assistance.