Friday, 4 September 2009

love and alzheimer's

"Is there anything I can bring you next time I visit?"

"No, I don't think so, Dear,...unless...."


"I'd like a Boyfriend."

I smile, keeping my response "That's two of us!" to myself. Mum's just told me that she is 35, so I'm guessing that I'm not an "out" man this week.

At the next table, two of the residents have been a couple for the past year. In previous visits I've been a bit concerned that the man of the two was a bit overbearing - I worried that the woman had been coerced into this relationship. Tonight, it suddenly strikes me that they're the two least deteriorated residents in the room, and I wonder if their mutual focus and companionship is somehow slowing their descent. I wonder if Mum grasps this on some level. Mum is a tenacious survivor and has an almost infallible instinct on health matters.

I know that there will be many many cases of loving partners who have watched their spouses slide away into dementia, so I'm not naïvely suggesting that love can slow this disease. However, there is an intensity and focus required when one is courting someone (as I dimly recall). Wooing requires a special effort to present oneself at one's best and take pains to learn and retain as much about the other as possible. These are both strong tides to resist in dementia. If there's something in this, I envisage a task-force of gigolos and 'ladies of easy virtue' to be activated and sent into Care Homes up and down the land.

I think it's time for me to rent the movie "Away from Her"


citygirl said...

I often wonder how long my mom was in the early stages of Alzheimers but managed to keep it undercover because my dad was still alive. I also wonder if my dad had any idea or if my mom was still sharp enough to keep it from him. Once he died, it became very apparent that something was wrong with my mom; much more than depression & sadness over the loss of her spouse.

Love is very powerful and I'm pretty sure my mom would have faired better if my dad had lived longer. As much as I and my siblings loved her, it just wasn't the same.

On the other hand, I'm glad my dad wasn't here to see my mom get sicker & sicker...I'm pretty sure it would have literally killed him to watch.

karen said...

I think when My dad died mom started slipping away but than I had my son. For most of his life she cared for him while I was at work . Has he needed her less she needed us more . I think if my Dad was here she would still be ok.

Anonymous said...

Away From Her is a great choice. I recommended it to my sister, because..

LSL said...

Away From Her was a heartbreak. It was almost too much reality for me. It was nicely made with beautiful acting, but I didn't watch it on that level. I was overwhelmed with the difficulty (understatement) of the situation. For you, dealing with this as you are, it might also be helpful in some way.


elanor said...

I haven't seen the movie, I might try and find a copy.
my mum had two very unhappy, abusive marriages and in her dementia she has finally found some romantic happiness.

my mum has a 'boyfriend', he is a delightful man, really sweet. they used to eat meals together and sit with each other all day. after a while mum's affection for him reached the level of being a 'stalker'. the poor man couldn't move with out her following him!

When she moved into the dementia unit he stopped eating and really fretted for her so now they spend every morning together which seem to be a nice balance for the them both.and I'm sure it's good for them to feel like they have someone special.
Mum has even asked me if it's OK if they get married!!

Very Scary Mary said...

Get yourself a copy of 'Contented Dementia'on Amazon,NOW, it's the ONLY book that will help you feel better as your Mum and you struggle with dementia...I know, been there, done that, got the T-Shirt:)
Sending you lots of TLC