April 20, 2009

Strayer University Student Reflects

Again, thank you to Strayer University's Professor Abramson and her Intro. to Sociology class for sharing their essays on Losing Herbie.

This student's personal account with dementia provides a unique perspective to the topic of caregiving.


The video clips of losing Herbie was an eye opening experience that I was not ready to face however, one day I could be in the same situation as Herbie or his family. “Dementia affects about 1% of people aged 60-64 years and as many as 30-50% of people older than 85 years. Many people with dementia eventually become totally dependent on others for their care”. (Dementia) Growing up I always said I would never put my mother in a nursing home no matter what but after seeing all of the responsibility that comes with caring for someone with dementia makes me think twice. To watch someone you love decline and not be able to care for their self nor make a sound decision is sad. “It is the leading reason for placing elderly people in institutions such as nursing homes”. (Dementia)

One thing that struck me the most was how courageous and tolerant Julie was in taking care of her dad. In spite of all the responsibilities associated with taking care of him Julie was determined to stick it out because she made a promise to him and because she loved him so much. It was evident at how much she loved him because she could have easily given up or placed him in a nursing home because he became unaware of what was going on around him and would have never known what she has done. I have such a close relationship with my mother and I would want to do the same for her. I love her so much but will I be able to endure to the end as Julie did is a question I asked myself. I am an only child and the idea of raising my children while caring for my mother who would have infant like qualities in an adult body scares me. “I was asked if sibling relationships suffer when a parent has dementia. Often, siblings have varying opinions about how to deal with decisions they are faced with at the present time, as well as those down the road.” (Dementia) Would I be looked upon as selfish if I could not sit around and watch my mother decline or watch the lady I admire the most in this world slip away. On the other hand after working in a nursing home I could not image placing her in a facility that I consider depressing.

I was a bit surprised that his lady friend did not want to care for him but after seeing him decline and not having that spark she was use to I totally understand her position in caring for him. My husband and I share such great times together and trying to image being in that position to have to care for him or even watching him not be able to hold an intelligent conversation is completely mind boggling. However, because of the love we share and in my current state of mind I would have to remember the vow’s we took until deaths do us part and stick it out with him.

Julie’s husband was in agreement in the beginning and after seeing what he was faced with started feeling a bit of resentment towards Herbie. I love my in laws but I feel a little selfish because I would want my husband to be in agreement with me in taking care of my mother. However, I am not sure I would agree with him wanting to do it for his mother. He has other sibling and I would want one of them to take the responsibility. I would probably use the excuse that I am an only child and I do not have options as he does. I would be willing to help out but I would not want the full responsibility of taking care of his mother. “There can be family conflict and less cohesiveness. Yet, sometimes on this journey families come to a place where they say the disease has brought them closer than ever.” (Dementia)

I use to work at a nursing home when I was a teenager and it was easy to get attached to a lot of the elderly folks. However, I remember a time I was afraid of the people who suffered with Alzheimer’s and dementia because you never knew what to expect from them. It made me depressed watching families come and visit their love one and how hurt they appeared to be watching them decline. I also reflect on a time when the head nurse smacked a patient in the face and made her nose bleed because she could not tolerate the patient’s behavior. Although the patient had symptoms of dementia she was able to remember what happened to her. I was glad the nurse was charged with assault, locked up and her nursing license was revoked. However, dealing with this stressful situation could result in such behavior and a fear what may happen if someone lose their patience. This is the main reason I could not place my mother in a nursing home because she could not receive the love we would give her at home. I thank Julie for allowing us to see how much responsibility it would be caring for your parent and for keeping her promise to care for her dad although he was unaware of what was going on, I believe it made a difference.