Families that are on a dementia journey experience an emotional road trip as they deal with the unforgiving grip of dementia. The lessons learned are often a combination of bitterness and gratitude. It is common to feel profound remorse for the way we respond to the effects of the disease, and for not cherishing time together. Many also discover solace in the form of compassionate individuals who helped them care for their loved one along the way. This reflection offers a chance of redemption, and an opportunity to express gratitude that they thought would be impossible under these difficult circumstances.
When Maureen called Eric Klein’s CarePatrol office, she needed help with her mom and brother, Sean. Mom had dementia. Sean had a bad attitude and a hot temper. Maureen wanted to find mom an appropriate memory care community. Sean felt it was his responsibility to take care of mom, and she had been living in his home for the past year. Dementia had been cruel to mom. They both witnessed her memories and independence fade. Her personality change from passive to aggressive. Sean was consumed by his own mix of emotions including helplessness, sadness and anger.
Eric worked with Maureen for months before they were able to get Sean to agree to talk with him. When Sean first called up, he asked “what are you going to do for me?” Eric explained he was going to offer him a lifeline. It was going to start with compassion and understanding. It would include a care plan that provided physical, cognitive and emotional support for mom and the family. By relieving him from the caregiving burden, they would also expect the love and patience he wished he had to return.
The initial conversations were difficult. Mom’s disease progression was getting worse, and this was causing him deep pain, and also his own remorse, over how he was responding to the woman who loved and cared for him his entire life. He sacrificed his own family time to be a caregiver, and she no longer recognized him as her son. His children were mad at him for missing their sports games and not having time to connect on weekends. No son should have to toilet and shower their mom. His temper had grown short. He could not balance the responsibilities of his own household with mom’s 24/7 care needs.
Eric asked Sean to focus his energy on working with him to find the best care solution for mom’s remaining days, and spend less time hoping mom would snap out of her dementia. He reluctantly agreed. Over the next few weeks, they worked through the process of finding a safe and appropriate memory care community for mom. They gathered clinical information and got the family on the same page to support mom. They reviewed the finances and coordinated the move. Along the way Sean confronted his own short-comings.
We are fortunate to have excellent memory care options in the Chicagoland area. The selected community worked with CarePatrol to create an environment filled with tenderness, compassion and moments of joy in the midst of the reality of dementia. As the days went by, Sean started to express his gratitude and make up for the time he had emotionally disconnected from mom. He discovered the power of forgiveness. He forgave himself for being so harsh, and extended his forgiveness to his mom for having dementia.
Sean recently reached out to tell Eric his mom had passed. “I’m sorry for being an ass to my mom, and to you.” He thanked him for becoming his support system and anchor during this tumultuous journey. He was also thankful for the profound impact their plan had on his own soul. Over the last few months he made up for lost time and used every interaction with mom to express his love for her. He said the power he felt through forgiveness and gratitude was transformative. Sean also thanked Eric for not giving up on him and for helping him find peace and comfort in the storm of dementia.
There is no one size fits all solution for senior care. If you need help finding care for a loved one, your family may benefit from Eric’s expertise, and access to assisted living, memory care and in-home care options. We understand what you are going through, and no one is better at helping seniors and their families deal with the realities of aging than CarePatrol.