wings and things

Dementia and deception

For several weeks now, I have been leaving the nursing home at around 5.30pm after helping Ants with his dinner. I turn the television to the ABC news, draw the curtains, make sure the air conditioner is on to the heat setting, rearrange the blankets on his legs, and give him a hug and a kiss and say,

“I just have to do some grocery shopping, but I’ll be back later, Ants, okay? Do you want me to get some chocolate? Yes? See you soon then. I love you.”

And then I go home with my heart thudding LIAR!

So why am I lying? Because, now that Anthony is in the throes of PDD (Parkinson’s disease dementia), the lie that I am coming back soon, when I am actually going home, is much kinder than wrestling verbally, and emotionally, with him about why I can no longer bring him home.

If I say, “I’ll be back soon”, I don’t have to say, “You are too heavy for me to manage at home.” And I don’t have to see his eyes go sad. Instead, he smiles and hugs me and says “Don’t be long, Jules”.

Tonight I told the evening nurse-in-charge about my new method of leaving Ants and she gave me the thumbs up and said, “Sometimes, in cases of dementia, a white lie is kinder.”

“Yes, but when I say to him that I’ll be back and I don’t actually come back, does he get distressed and ask for me?”

“No”, she said, “we just put him to bed and he is fine.”