She starts each day slamming kitchen cabinet doors, in her never-ending search for a coffee cup, spoon or napkin. She is angry and wants me to know it.
My mother-in-law has dementia and she lives with us, now. We’re trying to keep her safe, out of a facility. She resists our help.
Next month we shall celebrate her 96th birthday. In one brief moment of clarity at the breakfast table, she looked directly at me and said, “You know, there is such a thing as living too long.” I say nothing.
Even though we know Mom’s dementia behaviors are symptoms of a disease and not intentional, dealing with them is often emotionally and physically challenging. We see a range of unpredictable behaviors including aggression, mood swings, and repeated questioning or manipulation.
“Why can’t I live alone? Why did you steal my car? Where are my things?”
Dementia behaviors like aggression peak after a disruption in their routine. (Living with family is a disruption.) She becomes particularly aggressive around sunset.
Still, we persist.
This is Mom, a kind, giving person who would be appalled to see how the end of her life would play out. We remain calm and supportive. We have to.
Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers