Full Circle Or 73 going on 3

Something that I think everyone who has a parent with dementia can relate to is this idea of life coming full circle. Our parents are growing down, they’re regressing (my mom is 73 going on 3… I believe we are in the terrible demented 2s still) and it’s one of the more frustrating facets of any dementia: The role reversal.

I talk about this theme a lot in the blog because I believe this is one of those really tough things every adult child faces—and it truly, truly sucks.

With my mom, this has been especially true, I think because of her kind of dementia—the frontotemporal stuff eats away at the part of your brain that keeps you from behaving exactly like a tot. In public places. Throwing tantrums. Or, in our case, spitting and stealing stuff……………….. my mom has no concept of right or wrong, good or bad, or sometimes, yes or no. She does what she wants, like a child, but doesn’t have the ability to learn or retain important, very useful, information—like, for instance, if you drink soap (as she does), it does not taste good so you skip the soap. Mom still drinks the soap. Her behaviors and plain inability to retain new information has forced us to take measures that are usually reserved for mini-humans.

We baby proof………………………………….

Dad has taken to locking the fridge with a giant chain and lock (remember, she’s stronger than me so we can’t just use plastic locks like you would for a 2 year old). Certain electrical outlets have a reset button so they don’t generate a current………… kitchen equipment has been put away (mom took the grease from the fry daddy and poured it around the pool to “feed her birds”), and I’ve taken to shopping in the baby aisle for bath soap, toothpaste, wipes and other kid-friendly goods because it just makes sense……………………………… she hates water, let’s throw in Dora the Explorer bubble soap and see if that helps. She’s not into washing her hands so let’s get Johnson & Johnson wipes that disinfect and smell nice. I have a theory that she’s not really brushing her teeth, so lets get her something that tastes good AND fights cavities.

When the parent becomes the child and the child the parent…………… well, it has a way of messing you up. You feel abandoned in a way, because no matter how old you are, sometimes you just want your parent. This disease has robbed me of my mom. I’ll probably never get over that. I can’t imagine how, really………………….. even when she’s gone and it’s behind us; the idea that I lost my mom starting in my late 20s is an emotional dagger……………………………………. I sometimes wonder if my mom would have helped steer me in other, maybe better directions, if she were mentally here for me. I wonder how our relationship would have evolved as I got older….. from mother/daughter to a beautiful friendship between adults. I have no idea.

What I do know is that I have a profound appreciation for tear-free shampoo.

Flickr pic from StarMama

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