Dementia as we know is a degenerative disease of the brain. It is not selective of circumstance and can affect any of us. The frailty of the human mind exposed.
Florian Zeller’s, The Father is currently on at The Fugard and it tore my heart apart last night. The confusion, the fear of the unknown, the voices, the suspicion, grasping onto the edge of sanity, or is everyone else around you crazy? The repercussions of the dementia on a daughter trying her best, her new relationship taking toll with her sense of obligation to her father, the threat and fear of an institution. The enormity of a man, once of sound mind, sobbing like a baby in his nurse’s arms. Heaving chest and raw pain. We filed out of the theatre quietly. All touched. Although many of us will never know the anguish of having Dementia, or living with someone with Dementia, the questions that he barked out last night in agony are prevalent.
“Who are you?”
“What are you doing here?”
“My watch has been stolen, I NEED to know the time, it is my constant!”
“Why are you in my flat?”
“Why have you moved my things around?”
“I want to go home!”
“Are you trying to trick me?”
“I’m confused, I don’t understand what I’m doing here!”
“Leave me alone, I’m fine!”
“Where am I?”
“I want my Mom, I need my mom”
Each one of his questions affect those of us of perfect sound mind (all relative of course). I have found myself feeling so threatened over the last while that even I have looked closely at the people in my world and wondered who they are, why we are where we are, threatened, side swiped by a move, confused at night looking for light switches, losing my car in a new shopping centre car park, pretending I was fine, when cracks were appearing, questioning if I’m in the right place, and the age old need of wanting and needing your mom when all else is unsure. There is a fine line.
The fear for most ageing people is not the age, it is how bodies and minds are going to cooperate. The fear is the burden you will place on your family irrespective of your wealth. A sound mind and body one day, can be a stroke victim or dementia the next.
We live in stressful times. Our plans of easing up have resulted in longer working hours, more traffic, incessant cell phone messages and attention. The fun of life quickly takes a back seat when you are hunting for power and the proverbial last buck at the cost of all that is dear. Decisions that require thought and planning are made off the cuff and the ripple effect is huge. Let us all slow down a tad. Research decisions. Question the motivation. Moving home just changes the scenery.
“Consciously or unconsciously we live not only our own individual life but, whether we like it or not, also the life of our time.” Lourens Van Der Post