Dementia is brutal. I knew this, of course, but I didn’t know this until my father got it. I wrote yesterday about not knowing when it was dementia and when it was dysfunction, and let me throw depression into the mix. Depression for my father because of course the dementia is making him depressed. I’m saying that sincerely, by the way. I’m not being snarky, though it’s hard to know the difference with me sometimes. Ofcourse it would be depressing not to know who you were or what was happening or who was around you on a regular basis. It has to feel so unstable when things are constantly shifting as to what you think you know.
So, yaeh. Of course my father is depressed! And my mother isn’t helping when she tries to insist on reality. I know it has to hurt her that my father doesn’t recognize her (or thinks she’s Ecco, his wife, but not Grace, my mother. Both are her names, by the way. The former is what he calls her in Taiwanese while the latter is her American name), but her trying to correct him over and over again is just making things worse.
This is something that frustrates the hell out of me. She is a psychologist. This is Dementia 101. Don’t argue with someone with dementia. It’s not being kind–in fact, it’s actively cruel. I couldn’t believe I had to tell her this. THat is something even people without psych degrees should know. But, no. She said she could not lie to him, and I got so impatient telling her it wasn’t lying. He wasn’t going to remember it in five seconds, anyway.
When I talk to him, I agree with whatever he says. Even if I don’t like it. This is where it gets tricky for me. He has been nasty all my life about women in general and me in particular. He’s said things like ‘the common housewife can’t figure out CostCo’ and boy did I have several things to say to this. This was the last time he was here. He was not in dementia when he said it so I felt no restraint in arguing with him. I still shouldn’t have because it was pointless, but I couldn’t help it. He’s so good at pushing my buttons, mainly because he (along with my mother) installed them.
Another thing he said that was more pointed at me demonstrated the layers and levels to his manipulation. At the dinner table, he started talking about how he was not a doctor while having that look on his face. It’s hard to describe, but I know he’s going to say something spectacularly out there when he has it on his face. Something that is going to annoy/irritate/anger me because of how baseless/uninformed/mean-spirited it is. This time, it was him rambling about how germs worked. In his opinion, the pores on your skin opens up more when it’s cold.
That in itself is factually untrue. This is not something you need to be a doctor to understand. Steam opens up the pores. Steam is hot. Therefore, the converse is true as well. Cold makes your pores smaller. I said this to my father, and he just sat there with a blank look on his face. I knew the folly of what I was doing, and yet, I could not stop. This was one of my big flaws–I got sucked into arguing with my parents when I knew it didn’t make a whiff of difference. In this case, I didn’t know why he was bringing it up, anyway. The pores being bigger or smaller when you’re cold/hot, I mean. It had nothing to do with what we were talking about, and he had brought it up apropos of nothing.