Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dementia

In this blog I might sound like a jaded, cynical crusty-hearted bastard. And I am. But I still feel a lot of sorrow in this job; I just hide it well.

Of the many things that make my heart ache, one of the worst is dementia. I can't even imagine what it must be like to watch a loved one slowly lose themselves over the course of years. To become a shadow of who you once were is horrible. I think of all the life adventures I've had, of the fun and laughter and pure living I've experienced and have yet to undergo...to think that could just go away and I'm left with nothing?

I've written before about the idea of end of life euthanasia and mentioned the passing of the original Dr. Death, but a new article on the front page this week has made me revisit these feelings. Remember that guy, Jim Crabtree? He was in the news last year when his father murdered Jim's wife and mother then committed suicide. There was a lot of opinion both ways, but Jim talked about the huge strain it was to take care of a wife who didn't know him anymore, and two elderly parents who were also ill. He related how people have come up to him and talked of how envious they were that, while a violent end, he was spared the horrendously slow end of the journey of Alzheimer's.

This might not win me a lot of fans, but after seeing the ravaging effects of dementia first hand, both on the patient and their caregivers, I think I side with Jim here. For a dementia patient and their caregivers, death really is the final blessing.


3 comments:

sweetgirl said...

I work with a lot of Alzheimer's patients and I see them come in almost fully functioning then go to completely dependent within months. While I haven't looked into euthanasia enough to take a side with how the Bible stands, I understand that death really is a sweet release for them (and their families/loved ones) from their prison that may last only months or might even last over a decade. I know I have developed a callous, but this view also depends on the understanding that G-d holds these people and only He can know what happens when we die. Dementia is a terrible disease for all involved, but knowing that G-d is in control and knowing that when the patients die they are finally able to rest and be restored is very comforting for me.

-BedpanAlley

Aesop said...

If I ever live long enough to get dementia or be told it's in the offing, my plan is to make all my farewells, and then go camping. When I'm too out of it to fend off wolves and grizzly bears with a stick and a torch, I want them to eat me and recycle me, because that's by far orders of magnitude less painful than being one of the members of the permanently diapered lost-their-mind screaming-at-the-walls posse that characterizes the long-term demented.

I'm wholly against officially sanctioned euthanasia, but I can understand those who favor it in those circumstances.

Nurse Dee said...

I'm completely with ya when it comes to instances of dementia or when a pt can freely choose their own ending.

It's so sad when these people have to just "be around" instead of being able to live. We certainly wouldn't do that to our beloved pets, why should we expect the same of our loved human beings?!