My mom has said on more than one occasion “I never imagined that this would happen to your father.” I think we all feel the same way. I think I feared cancer taking my parents more than I feared losing a parent to dementia.
But what can you do when you find that you are falling down the rabbit hole and landing right square in the middle of dementia? You can pray. You can find a support group. You can talk to one doctor after another. We have done all of these things and many many more.
Whatever you decide to do, please remember that you have to take care of yourself too. The disease will progress and life will go on. The merry-go-round never seems to stop. But if you do not take time to care of yourself and your family you will accomplish nothing. I have four children and a husband who also depend on me and I owe it to them to take care of myself. I need to be available to the family that actually lives in my house! You are not being selfish. You are simply taking care of yourself so that you can care for those around you.
I have to remember that if my dad did not have dementia he would expect me to prepare my older children for life at college. He would expect me to attend track meets and work concession stands. He would expect me to drop everything to go be with a daughter that is having a bad day in another city. He would expect me to help a daughter find a job at the end of her college career. This is not being selfish; this is called parenting and it is my most important job.
I will never forget when I was working at the bank one Saturday morning and my neck actually “popped” and my arm dropped to my side. I had ruptured a disc in my neck and would eventually need surgery. My husband took good care of me but my parents actually came home from their vacation in North Carolina to see what they could do to help me. Their friends actually asked my dad why they were coming home early to take care of me. After all, I was an adult with a capable husband by my side. My dad simply replied, “She is my daughter and she is hurt and I am going home to see what I can do to help.” That is love. That is parenting.
Sometimes you have to parent while falling down a rabbit hole!