Here’s a conversation I had with an 85-year-old relative suffering from dementia:
Me: I hear your nephew came to visit. How’s he doing?
Me: Has he retired yet?
Him: Oh, I don’t think so.
Me: Where does he work?
Him: That big company in California.
Me: Which one?
Him: It has something to do with airplanes.
His nephew is in fact retired, once worked in California, but he has had nothing to do with airplanes since he was in the Air Force back in the 1970s.
What happened is that this 85 year old scoured his memories–and the oldest memories are the only ones left–and came up with answers that he felt fit my questions. Did the answers make sense? Only if you don’t know the truth.
This same man got upset because he believed a gun that belonged to my grandfather was missing. He thinks a friend of the family stole it when he visited. The gun is neither missing nor stolen. He gave all his guns to younger relatives years ago when he moved into a retirement community where guns are not allowed.
He claims the gun is a revolver (it’s not) and was issued to my grandfather when he was in the Navy. It wasn’t. The gun in question had not yet entered production at the time my grandfather served. Again, we see he takes has scattered memories and connects them into a story.
I believe this is what Joe Biden does when he tells a story that is full of mistruths. He takes the few “facts” he can recall and strings them into a story that makes sense to him.
Dealing with People with Dementia
I’ve watched this relative decline for several years. In the beginning, he had good days and bad days. He also had good times of day. He struggled to deny his memory loss. If you contradicted him or said that’s not true, he would get angry.
After his faculties started deteriorating more aggressively, he would get angry over minor things. I remember him yelling at one of his kids during a family gathering: “Why did you pay that bill before I saw it!”
“I pay all your bills and I have for the past six years. Not once have I shown them to you beforehand unless I had a question.”
“I don’t think that’s true.”
Everyone else in the room nods and says “Yes it is.”
The only good thing is that within a day or two, he forgets the entire episode.
As his symptoms worsened, he’d do things like answer the TV remote when the phone rang and then get pissed that he couldn’t pick up the call. He’d write an entire email message in the subject line. Every day, he’d carry his cell phone despite not knowing how to charge it or turn on. He’d shuffle when he walks, which meant he was prone to tripping and falling. Kind of like Joe falling up the stairs on an airplane or falling off his bike.
Today, this gentleman is an innocent bystander watching life go by. He eats what you put in front of him. He can dress himself, but don’t expect things to match. Someone has to remind him to shower. He can answer questions, but with fewer and fewer words. “Fine” seems to be his favorite word.
“Do you want to watch the game?”
“They have chicken salad for lunch.”
“China wants to invade Taiwan.”
It’s Sad and Scary
It’s sad that my elderly relative and many others like him are adrift on the sea of dementia, so disconnected from reality and comprehension. I hope he still can enjoy some basic things, like sitting in the sunshine or petting his cat. Maybe eating a scoop of ice cream.
But when you think of our president in this state, it’s scary. The leader of the free world who can’t even hold it together long enough to read a teleprompter correctly. A man who repeats claims and stories that have been proven false time and time again. A man who is for things he opposed in the past. It’s easy to take advantage of people in this state. Fraudsters do it all the time. Seems like political parties do as well.
Here’s an article discussing how his staffers fear Biden will make another gaffe or fall down. Yet they claim he is “mentally engaged” in decision making. Yeah, but what does that mean? How engaged is he?
“Sir, the military industrial complex and the Pentagon says we should send more weapons to Ukraine.”
“You heard the man!”
The New York Times and other newspapers have recently suggested that Biden is too old and shouldn’t run for president again. What will it take for these papers to complain he’s too old and addled to be president now? How much farther down must he drag this country?
Biden is reportedly confused at his low approval numbers considering that his handlers tell him “we are stronger economically than we have been in history.” That right there shows you how far he is disconnected from reality.