31 Jan When Dementia Changes a World
As the birthday balloons hovered like silent centurions, chirpy conversation wove its way through the air, vibrant and alive. My grandmother’s perfume invaded my nose with ferocity, igniting both recoil and affection. Against this celebratory backdrop, with awed respect and reverence, I approached my great grandfather, already in his mid-90s with his due birthday present. Colorful ribbons encircled it.
His demeanor as always, was gentle, with a crackling lining of humor and mischief. Thick glasses hid his baby blues, receding white hairline evoked images of snow, worn but neat jacket laid on his lanky chest. This was Grandpa Bannister, the man who told goofy stories, the stoic pillar of the community, the chatty gardener. This was the man who walked on his hands at his 65th birthday party, change spilling out of his pockets as merry children giggled and filled their own pockets. This was the handyman who worked among the peacocks and outbuildings of a huge farm in the early 1900s and even discovered a baby in a basket. This the the man who I heard story upon story from every respected elder at church.
He was my great grandfather.
As I eagerly handed him the birthday presence, he smiled at me fondly, yet vacantly, slowly reached into his back pocket and painstakingly opened his wallet. His eyes met mine again. “Well how much do I owe you, ma’am?”
That’s when my world changed.
Over 36 million people worldwide are numbered to suffer with dementia, while 65.7 million people in the US alone are taking care of relatives with various conditions, including dementia. The numbers are staggering and can seem to blur into oblivion, but how is it possible to build relationships amongst memory loss? For a child like myself, the interactions with my great-grandfather changed, but I was not the primary caregiver. My grandmother became the primary caregiver. A daughter becomes a nurse, a counselor, and finds the label ‘daughter’ getting lost in the tiresome duties as a caregiver.
Worlds change. Relationships evolve. How are new memories created without resentment, apathy, or added health problems? Resentment can ultimately overwhelm a desire to help, and add to the that, the National Center on Caregiving estimates that 40% to 70% of caregivers have symptoms of depression.
A network or community is needed to allay some of the tension. ACCFamily came into existence purely for the goal of keeping the ‘daughter’ label intact and leaving great family memories unchanged. A home-care companion not only aids in the health and living of an aging loved one, but the mental (and physical!) health of the family members as well! We care. And we want to leave your world as unchanged as possible.