My Demented Mom

5 million Americans suffer from Dementia. My mom is one of them. A site for young adult caregivers struggling and coping with "the long goodbye."

I’ve been hearing a lot of adult diaper jokes lately………………… I don’t know if that’s just how the universe works because the universe, in all of its infinite wisdom, is actually a really big dick……………………………. or I just happen to be more in tune with adult diapers since I buy them often.

I don’t find adult diaper jokes very funny…………………… when they do come up, I fake-laugh and hope the subject is changed. Promptly………………… Look, I try to have a good sense of humor about my mom and her disease (my new joke is that trying to get her this really good nursing home is like trying to get a kid into private school……………….. OK, it’s funnier when I say it and you see my face), but adult diapers, well, let’s face it, of all of the humiliations we humans have to endure as we get older, sitting in a mushy pile of your own caca, waiting for a stranger to change you is surely at the top of the list.

Alas, most people don’t really think the adult diaper thing through…………. for some weird reason, they associate adult diapers with pee — just PEE………………….. because somehow you’ll be able to get yourself to the toilet to poop??????

The other night, we were at a favorite restaurant having a bite to eat and a glass of vino………………………………. the owner of the restaurant (we’re chums) came by the bar to say hello……………………. the conversation (I had NOTHING to do with this) turned to aging, retirement, getting older and, naturally, adult diapers (the universe laughs)………………….. the owner said that he’s already told his family that he doesn’t want to go to a nursing home and that he wants his family to change him if it ever gets to that point where he develops, you know, The Alzheimer’s, and has to wear adult diapers………………………….. he doesn’t want complete strangers cleaning up his mess………………………….that should he ever become difficult, he’d be OK with his family smacking him and putting him in a corner………………………………

I smiled.

Fake laugh.

Jon turned to look at me.

I think he wants to make sure I’m not twitching……………. or seething with rage.

Think Pulp Fiction.

“Bitch, be cool.”

I didn’t want to tell him that my mom was being cared for by strangers. That my mom is in adult diapers and it’s not easy to change out your own parent’s poopy diapers. That you can’t just slap your parent when they act out…………… that most dementia patients don’t just sit there quietly (I wish!)………….. that most families, after a point, cannot take care of their loved one………………….. that asking your daughters and wife to do this for you is like asking them to take give up a limb…………………. that your daughters that you worked so hard for will have to make huge sacrifices to care for you and your poopy diapers…………………………..

Getting old is a scary prospect. I think about it a lot. I think about how I’m going to pay for my own care and I’m 34. The majority of us avoid the topic all together, or we simply hope our kids will be there to pick up the dirty work of caregiving…………………….. clearly. I don’t have kids. And if I did, I wouldn’t bank on having kids who would step in and make certain sacrifices on my behalf…………. nor would I want my child to change out my diaper…………………… I often wonder if I would be able to do it……………………. to call it a day if I knew that my days were only going to get worse. I can’t help but wonder if there is a God that would punish me by turning me into a roach in my next life………………. or condemn me to an eternity in Hell…………my good deeds on Earth erased because I boldly ended my own life so I would not have to suffer a fate like my mother’s.

We left the restaurant and I didn’t say a word. I think I was too cold to care. “Turn up the heat, it’s freezing!” I let that entire conversation slide off my back.

Do I think that man is selfish. Yes. Do I like his white beans and escarole? Yes.

That’s life. People make adult diaper jokes and they don’t think about what it means to wear an adult diaper………………… but then again, if we all fretted about our destinies, what would be the point of life?

I can’t help but fret. For the last 7 years, her disease has been my life. I can’t help but think about my own future, my fate…………….. is it hereditary? Will I get this too?

Life is a toss-up.

Sometimes you get a really shitty hand.

>>Flickr pic by the tremendously talented Meredith Farmer

7 thoughts on “A Man Walked Into a Bar With Adult Diapers On……..

  1. Anne says:

    Thankfully, there are people in this world who’s job it is to change adult diapers and they’re ok with their chosen career; and, even more thankfully, your mom doesn’t recall her diapering.

    I asked my sister how I’d manage diapering my new baby and she said “Oh, don’t worry – you’ll get used to it by the 100th time!” She was right. A parent will diaper their baby about 3,000 times before the child is potty-trained. It wasn’t bad, really – sometimes the smell was bad. I think grabbing a warm pile of dog shit with a plastic bag-wrapped hand and then carrying it for six blocks is grosser.

    Your mom doesn’t know and she doesn’t remember the poop, the diapering, the “humiliation” — but you do — maybe its best you forget it too and follow her example… and smile :)

    PS: How many Alz patients does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: To get to the other side!

  2. lauren gibbons says:

    I can’t speak for the general public but for those of us dealing with the demented everyday (81 year old mother in law with severe dementia) I find we have to crack jokes sometimes or else i’d fucking lose it!!! Lol. I’ve changed countless adult diapers. Thankfully she has a colostomy bag so we do not have to deal with poo diapers…thank god for small miracles. So our current joke is when we both turn 70 we’re getting his and hers colostomies. Have a wonderful new year.

  3. Scary, isn’t it? I also worry daily that I will end up with dementia like my mom. I’m doing everything I can to stay healthy but only time will tell. Good luck. (I don’t think adult diaper jokes are funny either.)

  4. you’re right. you do have to laugh. good luck!

  5. Arya Ingvorsen says:

    Luckily I haven’t heard any adult diaper jokes. Helping your elderly loved one to clean up is horrible. The jokes and insensitivity are awful. I don’t think people get quite how difficult aging, physical frailty and dementia can be. Unless people have been there I guess they just can’t imagine what it is like.
    But some of us do, keep up the good work. You are an amazing carer for your Mom. Whilst the diaper changing is horrible for you, the love you show for your Mom is a real credit for you and telling of the humanity you show. I imagine many people don’t tell you this, but well done.

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