This blog is about Lewy Body Dementia from the perspective of two fellows that have it. Think: Beavis and Butthead on dementia.
Serving up the snarky side of dementia since 2018
It’s not easy being a houseplant
If you know someone with dementia, you may have wondered why they sometimes wander around the house. Why they seem so restless. Why they’re always getting into situations they have no business being involved in. Why can’t they just stay in one place and lessen the problems they seem to cause for themselves and their caregivers. Well, I’ll tell ya, at least from personal experience, for the caregiver and the patient, it’s not easy being a houseplant.
Houseplant. That’s what Jeff and I call ourselves when we get deep enough into a fog that it’s actually not safe for those around us or us personally to be up and about without assistance. You would think that during times such as this it would be easy, even preferable, to stay seated, snug in a place of comfort and security. I know I had that thought on occasion. And you, as was I, would be wrong. For us at least, the ability to remain content in a calm, safe place is much like the girl in the movie, GONE.
I wouldn’t exactly call what I’m feeling as anxiety but it's downright close. I’m antsy, I need to get up and move, I need to have my hands into something. I feel a strong need to be doing something, to be “useful”. I suppose it’s related to my drive to finish school as quickly as possible and go to work, my working as much as 65-70 hours/week to get my practice up and going, my habit of working in my wood shop for 6, 8, 10 hours/day after I was forced to retire from dentistry due to health concerns. Even though I had always been laid back and ready for a nap at a moments notice, I tended to always be doing something, to have several little jobs going at the same time, feeling naked if I didn’t have something in my hands to manipulate.
You are being told that you should remain in one spot for your own safety, all the while having your understanding of the world around swirling through your brain, as though all the events effecting your life had been thrown into a blender and stirred beyond all recognition. It’s an impossibility. I can feel my muscles twitching to move, my mind is finding all sorts of contrived things that need to be attended to, chores that need to be completed. And, before I know it, I’m up and aimlessly wondering through the house, finding something to get into, another mess to make.
Were this a sporadic occurrence, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But no, the antsyness (is that a word?) can’t be confined to regular daylight hours. It occurs again and again throughout the day and night, no rhyme or reason as to its cause or when it will occur. And it’s enough to drive a caregiver over the edge. They are already exhausted from taking up the slack we have let slip, making sure we’re taking our meds as we should, that we maintain a somewhat healthy diet, that we get adequate exercise, etc, etc, etc... They also have picked up almost the entire responsibility for the home, for the finances, for coordinating any social interactions. They do it all, and almost entirely without complaint. They are exhausted. Now add some nut wondering around the house at all hours of the day and night, getting into everything they shouldn’t be, inadvertently causing messes when they think they’re completing an important task. Now, the caregivers sleep and any chance of rest are constantly interrupted.