Dr. Anne talks to her mother, Clare Hallward, about the dementia of Anne’s father and Clare’s husband, John, which lasted for 16 years before his death. They talk about some of the exasperating and even downright terrifying challenges of caring for John as his illness progressed. They discuss key decision points in his care that allowed Clare to have her own life, and that allowed him to continue to make a contribution to their life even when ill. Clare describes how it felt to make the difficult decisions to move her husband to a nursing home, and later to withhold antibiotics and allow him to die of pneumonia.
A conversation with Frances Randolph, whose husband had early-onset Alzheimer’s. Frances talks about the outgoing man she married and how dementia changed him so much that he became someone she barely recognized, someone who ultimately became violent with her. She describes the events that led up to him being transferred to a nursing home, and how she gave herself permission to care for herself even if that meant only going for short visits. Frances describes the series of losses inherent in his Alzheimer’s, including the loss of her sense of herself as a wife. She reports that it was only after his death that she could reclaim her memories of him, as a man with dancing eyes…
This first show in our series on the untold stories of dementia is an interview with Dr. Pauline Boss about the experience of ambiguous loss. She explains how dementia often creates a situation in which a person’s body is present, but the mind is absent. For caregivers, this can generate feelings of ambivalence toward the person with dementia, including wishing for this person’s death as a way to resolve the ambiguity. Dr. Boss says that these normal wishes can leave the caregiver feeling guilty and confused, and she stresses that caregivers need community support, starting with a recognition of the ambiguous loss that has taken place.
An interview with yoga teacher and retreat leader, Deb Cook, about how a daily practice of yoga can build a sense of safety inside. Deb describes how turning the attention inward on a regular basis creates a feeling of a home inside that one can always return to. [Read more…]
An anonymous interview with Rachel about her son’s severe depression and multiple suicide attempts. Rachel described the precipitous descent into depression that seemed to swallow her previously sunny, confident, artistic boy. She names the terrible and confusing sense of ambiguous loss [Read more…]