Monday, October 14, 2013

Respect

I have heard personally, from more than one Dementia patient that they feel their wives, family, friends, do not respect any more or respect them less because of their diagnosis.  So I though I would try to dissect this  a little.

You will notice, I only refer to men.  I do not know any female Dementia patients.  So, I have no basis to address their issues.  Second, I am a man and as a man, trying to understand the Psyche of the female is pointless.   But, I fully understand being a man.

As a successful man, I was fully in charge of my life.  Yes, I acknowledge GOD is in control of my life and all of life.  But for this discussion, we will look at this as seen through a man's point of view.    I worked, all the time.  Made good money, saved, invested, bought and sold homes, made some good and bad decisions. Took credit for the good and responsibility for the bad.   I was intelligent, resourceful, witty, and caring.  My wife looked to me for guidance, answers, knowledge, on many issues.  I fixed things around the home, the car, the lawn mower, the landscaping, the Church.  I was capable, physically fit, not overly emotional, and even dependable.  I was sexually capable, at least in my mind.  Concerned for the emotional and physical well being of my wife and son.  Did I have faults, yes!  But none so bad that I would get fired from any position in my life.  I did the best I could to provide and better the life style of my wife, my son, and those around me including in-laws and extended family.  I had good, close friends that counted on me and I counted on for help, advice, and support.  All in all, I consider myself to be an all around good guy.  Not perfect.  But not fatally flawed either.

Does this sound like the man you are married too?  I thought so.  Then why, when he is effected by a degenerative neurological disease, do you treat him like he is a juvenile delinquent that can't be trusted, can't do anything right, and does not listen to anything you say?!  I mean that!!   I talked to another Lewy Body Dementia patient at a local rec center I go to and he told me the same thing.  If anything goes wrong, it is his fault!  He fits the description I just laid out.  He is a retired Navy Captain!  Yet today, he is treated like an E-1 Seaman Recruit.

We don't screw up on purpose.  We don't sit and think, how can I piss her off today!  Instead, we think, how can I stay out of trouble today!  The Captain told me, he tries to be dressed and ready to go out the door 10 minutes before his wife says they have to leave.  He told me that as his wife was walking u to us and she said;  He is the reason we are always late!!  Why berate someone for trying to meet the standard you set?

I have a theory.  We are being disrespected because we are no longer what we were!  It is like we are now useless.  Like a car that won't start, or a cracked tea pot, or a broken chair.  Broke beyond repair and not worth a place in the home.  Well, if that is the way you fell, put us in some care facility and leave us there.  We cannot defend ourselves.  We cannot do better and I promise you we will do much worse.  If you can't love and respect us in the stage we are in, I promise you really won't be happy changing our Depends and treating our diaper rash!

None of us planned on getting Dementia.  I certainly did not go out and get infected with the Dementia bug on purpose.  But, I have it.  I can't change it, and I am tired of apologizing for it.  When you went through menopause, did we treat you with disrespect.  I did not and I believe your husbands did not either.  Why do I say that with confidence?  Because you are still married!   Most men who can't deal with menopause get a divorce.  If your are still married, he cares!  So, why not try to understand his issues now that he has Dementia?

I know this sounds emotional, and it is.  But those of us trapped in Dementia are emotionally compromised and angry words, harsh looks, and disapproving comments impact us more than ever before.  We try to meet the standards we lived up to our entire lives.  We can't!  It is physically and mentally impossible.  But we hurt inside because we can't.  We feel diminished.  Less of a man, and even lees of a lover.  It is difficult to tell you how bad we are hurt by our disease.  And then, the disapproval we incur for trying is even more cutting than you can imagine.

Maybe it is difficult to respect the man who could do everything and now does not have the energy, mental capacity, or physical strength or ability to do what he used to.  But remember, you don't wear size 8 dresses anymore either.  Neither is a reason to disrespect you spouse.

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