Dotty said, I remember this little girl crying when my father went to work. She wanted to go with him. But he said, she couldn’t.
She then paused and seemed to be thinking about it. Then she said while laughing a bit - that little girl was me.
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
Dotty's New Found Awareness and What It Tells Me
Alzheimer’s Off the Top of My Head
This is Bob DeMarco from the Alzheimer's Reading Room
Just the other day I wrote about how Dotty can no longer remember much of anything. No stories or people from the past. When I ask, do you remember so and so, a person from the distance past, she usually shakes her head no.
Just so you know, she does not get disconcerted, or bent out of shape if I ask at the right times, and in a nice kind voice. So lo and behold, yesterday started with Dotty experiencing a new found awareness. I could tell very early in the morning by the strength of her voice and energy level that something was up.
And then it happened.
In the early evening, I started having a conversation with Dotty after a shopping trip to the Boyz. I was lamenting the fact that they only carry one brand of Swiss cheese, and that I don’t like that brand.
Next, I said, you know, I wish they still carried the Dietz and Watson brand, they have good roast beef and swiss cheese. Dotty then says, my father worked for Dietz and Watson (this was in the 1920s). He used to take me to work sometimes when he made his deliveries. (In a horse drawn truck I might add).
Dotty said, sometimes I went into the stores with him. The people were very nice, all the old ladies and old men. They always told me I was cute. I guess I was, I was really small.
Dotty then said, I remember this little girl crying when my father went to work. She wanted to go with him. But he said, she couldn’t. She then paused and seemed to be thinking about it. Then she said while laughing a bit. That little girl was me. It was startling, I could see her thinking. I wondered, did she see those images in her head. I think she did.
Then I asked, any chance that little girl was your sister. Dotty said no, she was too little and she burnt up in a fire when she was 4 or 5 years old (5).
Dotty then started to whimper. Not a full blown cry but clearly whimpering.
She then said. Those were very bad days, a bad life.
Instead of asking more questions, I decided to ring her out of the conversation and change the subject.
Two points. First, I think we often forget that there is still a lot of information rattling around in the heads of a person suffering from dementia.
Second, the situation I just described shows that a person suffering from dementia even though they often have that dull “not there” distant look on their face, is full of emotion just like you and me. It just doesn’t surface up very often.
Now you can say or think any thing you want around these issues that follow.
What I want to say to all the ignorant people out there is clear and simple.
If you have not taken care of a person living with dementia, please resist the temptation to think and believe you understand Alzheimer’s.
If you think or believe you can treat a person living with dementia differently because they don’t know the difference -- think again. If you want to justify walking away because they are no longer “there”, shame on you.
If you want to justify your actions by saying, this is “not the person I knew”, take a good long look. And then, please explain who they are, if not the person you knew.
If you are thinking that you can’t take a person living with dementia out because it might be embarrassing in some way to you, think about what treating them like this means to them.
This is Bob DeMarco. See ‘ya next time.
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room