By Rick Phelps
"I don't go and visit Mom, because she doesn't know who I am anymore."
How many of you have siblings, family members or friends that have said these very words?
It upsets me so when I hear someone say so passively that they aren't visiting their Mom, Dad or other loved one because of some problem they have just being around them.
What this truly boils down to is excuses. There are countless excuses for why family and friends stop coming around at some point during the course of this disease.
Every one of these excuses are just that—excuses. Here's a news flash for those who say, "Mom doesn't know me anymore”:
You know her. This is the woman who gave you life. This is the woman who did without for many years so that you had what you needed growing up.
"I want to remember them as they were.”
How shallow is that? We patients only ask that we be treated as we were before we developed this disease—with respect. I don't expect anyone to do anything different for me since my diagnosis. No one. Many of us do not require any special treatment when we go out. Ninety percent of the time people know there is something wrong with me, but only because of my therapy dog Sam.
They have no idea I have dementia. Most just ask me, "What's the dog for?"
So, the next time a family member tells you they are not and will not be visiting a loved one because of their self-centered thinking, tell them what they need to hear.
Many times we go on support groups like Memory People and the ones on AgingCare and vent about this. That is what these communities are for. But in the same token, the true people you need to vent to are the very ones who pull these stunts.
You certainly do not have to be confrontational, but when I hear someone say something like, “I can't go the facility and see Mom like that,” it drives me insane. That is just a patient’s perspective.
We patients hear and know more than you think we do. I know when someone in a room is talking about me. You can tell by their mannerisms and by the looks you get.
We are who we were. We just have a disease, and the disease happens to be destroying our mental capacities and ability to function day to day, hour to hour and sometimes minute to minute. It would be wise and compassionate to enjoy your loved one’s company while you still can.