Isn't it ironic?


My dad has dementia. About 2 years ago an acquaintance cracked a joke that dementia was the best way to go out - she said "because you make new friends every day!!" I thought it was a horrible thing to say but I kept my mouth shut (she said it in front of a room full of people, all I could do was pick my jaw up off the floor). I found out last week that her husband has just been diagnosed with early stages of dementia. Now keep in mind that these are people that I like, and I would never ever wish this on anyone. I just found it ironic in addition to feeling bad for them.



Dear Upstream,

I know you love your dad very much. It is hard to see our beloved parents turn into different people. It is horribly painful even when people make careless jokes. For them they are jokes, but for us its a painful reality filled with sorrow.

And the truth is, we all never know how we will truly feel till it happens to us. I know for myself, I have been humbled by my father's passing. I know true pain. I am trying now to be more empathetic and softer if at all possible. We never know what others are going through.

Thinking of you. Sending you hugs.

I sent a card to a 60yr friend. It said
"we can be friends till we are old and senile, and then we can be new friends.
My daughter says with Dementia/ALZ its either laugh or cry. I very rarely laughed. Felt I was making fun of Mom. But one time I couldn't help it. The RN at the AL had worked with my daughter. Daughter had the day off so went to a care meeting with me. Eva, the RN, said she had to tell us that Mom came out of her room naked. She said her and a CNA had to rush down the hall to get her before Mr. A came out of his room. He had attended Church with Mom for almost 50 yrs. He didn't have Dementia. Just couldn't help it. The picture it caused in our minds was just too much not to laugh. And with Mr. A being pretty much a sober guy.

Thought-popping is exactly what happens.

I think you do have a sense of humor anyway.

You are exactly right, cancer is no laughing matter either.

I mean no ill will toward the jokester. I like both her and her husband. Actually I found out about the husband's dementia on Thursday and felt very bad for them. It was only a few days later that I recalled her comment - it just popped into my head while I was thinking of them. At the time she made the comment, she seemed ill-informed about dementia. Would it be acceptable to joke about cancer? Because honestly I can tell you my parents would find cancer a heck of a lot more humorous than dementia. See, we are lucky not to have been touched by cancer in our family, so maybe to me that could be a laughing matter? Something along the lines of at least you can get it over with quickly, before you have to meet all of those new friends that confuse and scare the H*ll out of you every day??

So sorry that you are in such a sad situation that joke hurt you personally, and it doesn't leave your heart and mind, once hurt in that way. I think I understand, and have a few friends who carry that kind of pain with them.
Sometimes, I do ruminate about hurtful words many years ago, pick them up, examine the hurt words with a fine tooth comb, then realize that is not healthy for me to go over it again in my mind. I am not saying that you are ruminating.
But rehearsing words long gone by, I learned to say: "Nothing bad is happening now"
to myself, and move on in my thoughts to today.
I could be better off, focusing only on the positive, people say. For myself, getting it out helps, changing my thoughts helps me.

I want to validate your feelings as perfectly understandable.

Also, hoping that I never have to pay for the jokes or my sense of humor years later.
I am wondering if you thought the joke was meant to be cruel, or if the jokester is getting paid back now?  Of course, you don't have to answer that.  But getting your thoughts out about the irony you mentioned, may help you?

I guess it might be different depending on who said the joke also. if they were someone who made fun of others. or looked down on those less fortunate.

but if they are more or less considerate and caring, then like the others said. maybe it was a way of handling her own problems, like said, she may have seen it coming.

sometimes only to my husband(or sister), ill say omg guess what my mom did today?! I don't mean to talk behind her back and make her look bad. even tho I know its her dementia, it never ceases to amaze me (and saddens me too)

Yes I can find humor in some of the little things we deal with regarding dementia, you have to. However, my dad's situation has been life-altering for our family and has changed my life forever, and not in a good way. Devastating is an understatement, and for someone else to joke about it I found to be very un-cool.

Upstream, I'm sorry to tell you that I cackled quite a bit at that little quip. Then there's the one about the Sicilian, and the one about the "well at least I haven't got cancer!" - all the oldies and goodies...

I wonder, you know, if your acquaintance had some faint inkling even back then. Like those little rivulets of sand and dust you get before an earthquake or a landslide - just hints that something is going on.

Mocking something you're afraid of is one way to handle it.

I personally like the joke about meeting new friends everyday. My husband could watch the same video over and over, without finding it boring. He could even be surprised at the ending over and over. I joked that this kept our entertainment costs down.

I do not have dementia, but I am experiencing increased forgetfulness as I age. I sometimes re-read a mystery without realizing that I've read it before, and I still can't figure out who done it! I shake my head and laugh at myself.

I certainly agree that dementia is no laughing matter. It is a serious, dreadful, appalling disease! Caring for someone with dementia is not a fun day at humour camp. But retaining a sense of humour is not forbidden and it is generally a positive characteristic.

If I said, "I hope I go out with dementia. I'll save enough on rereading old books that I'll be able to afford my care!" and then in a few years developed dementia, would that be ironic? Or just nature taking its course?

I hope your acquaintance will be able to laugh at the funny events that definitely do occur over the course of dementia. I hope she won't become so solemn that she never cracks a joke. I hope the people who knew her when she was cracking jokes about dementia that they considered in poor taste will rally around her in her need for support.

Life is full of irony, if that is how you see it.

It seems that often people's perceptions change when an event impacts them personally. I have a disabled child, now an adult, and feel that the only people qualified to make jokes about a condition are those who have personal experience with that condition. We are all an instant away from being or having a loved one disabled or medically challenged. I'm sure your friend is going through a lot and probably doesn't even remember her statement about dementia. Often, people say things out of discomfort with an idea or situation or when trying to make someone feel better by making light of a serious situation. I hope your friend finds a good support group who can help her through the path she'll be walking with her husband's dementia.