This is a repost of something I wrote a few months ago. I was reminded of this vividly while visiting my father today.
We all get up each day and follow our same routine. Some drink orange juice, some tea, and others coffee. We cook our breakfast and maybe read the newspaper. We go about our day giving little thought to the hundreds of simple decisions we make at work, driving in traffic, or just the social interactions of daily life. The things we learned as we grew up, the simple skills like polite conversation, cooking or driving a car, we tend to take for granted. “I’ll always be able to take care of myself”, or so we think. But what if you couldn’t remember how to make coffee? What if you walked around the kitchen trying to figure out how to warm up some soup? What if you were so easily distracted, you almost crashed your car? Sometimes it’s called dementia.
My father has this affliction. I’ve seen it coming for some time now. From what I’ve read, it’s different for each person. For my father, he seems to be getting younger all the time. He’s always had a rather crude sense of humor, much like a middle school boy, but it has become much more pronounced. I also find him sitting and staring out the window for long periods of time. He can ask you a question, you answer it, then he will ask the same question thirty seconds later. It seems his short term memory is gone, yet he remembers his “tour” in Korea like it was yesterday. He talks to the dog in very silly tones, like he’s trying to sound like the stereotypical “lunatic” from an old movie. I’ve seen him walking around the house talking nothing but gibberish to himself. It’s hard to understand whats really going on in there.
For my mother, it’s different. I think it’s just old age, diabetes, and her recent stroke catching up with her. Her frustration level has risen dramatically since her stroke. She’s been having allot of angry outbursts lately. I’m sure I would feel the same as I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose most of you mobility. For a woman who has always been fiercely independent, having to depend on others must be a hard pill to swallow. Also, like my father, her short term memory is fading. Although it’s not as bad as my father, we will have the same conversation several times in a week. Her cognitive reasoning seems to be fine, but her retention is failing. This has been happening very slowly, so I think it’s just a natural progression of the aging process.
We all see things we don’t understand. We try to apply our reasoning power to each situation, but were often left with a feeling of anguish and confusion trying to decide how to react. Sometimes, I don’t react as I should. I’m only human after all, with my faults and frailties. As I go through each day, I realize more and more, the mind is a terrible thing to watch waste.