When one parent is exhibiting signs of memory loss the other parent can often cover up for the spouse who is losing the ability to care for themselves. Adult children are often surprised when they hear about a diagnosis they never saw, sometimes because of denial and at other times because the well parent was doing such a good job of making excuses or covering for the ill parent.
Often this is because of the well parent’s denial and fear of facing the truth of the pending loss. Other times both parents might be experiencing a dementia and they need each other to maintain their independence. It is fascinating for me as a professional, to see how we humans struggle to stay independent for fear of losing control. Are we not really all interdependent? Don’t we depend on others to produce our food, manufacture our clothing, build structures, secure our financial resources etc? Would it not be a better world if we were all much more comfortable with the phrase “inter-dependence” instead of struggling to hold onto “independence” even to our own detriment?
Often adult children have a difficult time seeing the dementia for some of the same fears around loss and grief. It is not easy to experience the loss of a parent in a way that robs them of self and leaves an empty shell of what was a beloved, intelligent being. Rest assured that love can be experienced and expressed into the later stages of dementia and we can all learn the importance of just being in the moment – because truly that is all there really is.