Standing On A Chair

Telling it like I see it…

Rants from the Chair: Further Thoughts on Dementia

Last week I blogged about my mother’s dementia, written entirely from my own narcissistic point of view.  God.  I hate it when that happens.  How easy it is to make everything all about me.

It seems, however, that I do that as a defense mechanism.  It’s less painful.  Because when I put myself in her place…when I imagine what it must be like behind her eyes, it just fucking breaks my heart.

She struggles for words and can’t find them; she forgets everything; her knees are painful and not really working anymore, so she shuffles in tiny little steps; her kidneys are failing; she’s legally blind; getting up out of a chair is almost impossible.  When she requires help, she says apologetically, “I used to be so agile.”

She is proud and stubborn, fiercely striving to hold on to some semblance of youth.  So she will not use a walker.  Says you have to stoop over them and that looks decrepit and awful!  So she uses a cane instead, thereby being only half stooped, and of course not nearly as protected from a fall. 

There are times when I’m talking with her, and her face suddenly goes blank because her mind has either gone somewhere else, or has disengaged entirely.  And there are times when you can tell she just knows her mind is going.  You can see the fear and pain in her eyes when these realizations occur. 

Yet with all that going on, this ninety-year-old woman, a shadow of her former physical and mental self, says with laughter, strength and clarity, “You have to take getting old with a grain of salt!”

Can you believe that?  I mean, she tore up golf courses four times a week for decades.  She was active in bridge, poker, and volunteerism.  She supported lady golfers at the local university.  She always had a ton of friends who loved her.  And now, in her current state of steep decline, with all of her friends dead, she still has this amazingly positive attitude.

Did I mention she has a couple of old codgers after her at her retirement community?  She dances with them, for God’s sake.  On those knees!


May 31, 2011 - Posted by | Aging | , ,


  1. You forgot to mention that she was an amazing grandmother to a very stubborn little girl for 5 years each and every day before and after school! That is a job in and of itself!!!

    Comment by Farrah | May 31, 2011 | Reply

    • Didn’t forget…just saving that for another post.

      Comment by standingonachair | May 31, 2011 | Reply

  2. God love her!

    My mom always said, “Old age is Hell”….I’m beginning to understand just what she meant! She kept her good spirits up as well. I still miss her so much 🙂

    Comment by Becky Day Wilson | May 31, 2011 | Reply

  3. I can only hope I am that positive when I ripen. She sounds like a great woman. At least she has a wonderful daughter and granddaughter by her side through the toughest years.

    Comment by Julie Travis | May 31, 2011 | Reply

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