I feel like I have become very educated on dementia over the last 12 to 18 months. I have attended seminars, joined support groups, talked to people in many different areas and read a lot of books. I feel very informed!
Heck! I am informed! I still have a lot to learn but I feel fairly prepared to discuss dementia with my friends and neighbors. And then all heck breaks loose and I forget it all. Gone! All that knowledge is forgotten in a flash.
I write this post thinking back to a Saturday a few weeks ago. Dad was having a bad day. A really bad day. Dad was cussing at my sister in a loud and very public manner. He was adamant about going “home”. It was a bad day in a very public place.
We muddled through the crisis. Dad was safe and back inside Brookdale, my mom was embarrassed and my sister was in the car headed to her home. It should have ended there but it did not.
We should have left the past in the past. We knew to leave the past in the past but we did not remember all the things that we knew!
On Sunday, my mom was still embarrassed about the things my dad said to my sister and she knew that my dad would never have said those things if he had been in his right mind. Dad had no memory of his poor behavior on Saturday but Mom decided to enlighten him. This may have sounded like a good plan in her mind but it was not.
Although Dad could not remember his behavior that terrible Saturday afternoon, he could not forget the story that my mom told him the next day. He could not stop apologizing for his behavior and he sulked for three days. He was like a child that had been scolded. It was pitiful.
I felt bad for my dad. He apologized over and over. He hung his head in shame and vowed to never attend another family function for fear he might misbehave again. We told him over and over that he was forgiven and that we wanted him to attend all of our family functions but he kept his head down.
I felt sorry for my mom because, although we could leave and walk away from this sullen man, she was stuck. She sat with him for days as he remembered the story she told him yet he never remembered his actual behavior.
We never should have told him about the scene he caused in front of Brookdale on that Saturday afternoon. We knew better . . . but we forgot.
We have to remind ourselves that when Dad lashes out, it is not our dad but his disease. We love Dad and we forgive him for anything that he might say during one of these bad days.
So why tell him something that he does not remember?
I cannot think of a single thing that my father could do that I would not forgive him for . . . so I cannot think of a reason to tell him something he does not remember doing.
We knew better and we will not repeat this mistake again . . . I hope.
It is the disease not the man.