I almost violated the "don't insert yourself into other people's business" rule of living safely the other night.
Because the mother couldn't hear very well, their conversation significantly raised the restaurant's decibel level. It was impossible not to eavesdrop. The conversation brought back unpleasant memories of conversations my sister and I had with my mother before we became enlightened.
The mother and daughter at the next table started arguing about some long ago event they remembered differently. Neither would give in. Both claimed to be "right." At one point the daughter got out her phone to call someone else to prove to the mother that she – the daughter – was correct and the mother didn't remember properly.
No one with dementia remembers correctly. And who cares? I wanted to tell the daughter at the next table to shut up and just be glad she has a mother. But I resisted.
When I mentioned the experience to a friend, she said that her aunt and grandmother were in that situation as long as she could remember, and it was so aggravating! My friend recounted that for long periods of time they were so angry at each other they ceased to speak at all. Then they started again, disagreeing about a long forgotten blouse's collar that one thought was a lace and the other was sure was embroidered.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, every 67 seconds somebody in the United States develops the disease. Everyone I know has some sort of personal experience with the Alzheimer’s disease or dementia through a spouse or parent or friend. And because we've had that direct experience, we all know how scary memory loss can be.
This American Life recently had a wonderful segment about one family’s solution to memory loss. Treat it like an improv act! Here is the link to Act Two: Rainy Days and Mondys: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/532/transcript
As my daughter used to remind me, “Isn’t it exciting that everything is new and interesting to Grandma?”