The son came into our community looking into a memory care apartment for his father. He and his brother were having challenges with him, he said. “What kind of challenges?” I asked.
It seemed that dad was being difficult. He wouldn’t do anything that they wanted him to do. As a result, he and his brother were constantly arguing with him. “Knock down, drag out arguments,” he said.
I had to stop and smile. I then told him what every professional who works with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia knows. “Dementia is a disease. You can’t argue with a disease. You’ll never win.”
He paused and I could see his mind working. He had never considered it that way before. That it made just about as much sense to argue with dementia as it would with cancer—or a brick wall. Argue as much as you want. The odds are that you’re not going to win. You’ll just get frustrated and wear yourself out.
He didn’t take an apartment for his dad that day, but he visited again a few weeks later. I asked him how things were going with dad. “They’re going great!” he said. “Like you said, I stopped arguing with him and we get along great now.” Then, he added, “My brother, though, he just doesn’t get it. He still argues with dad just like before.”
There are lessons to be learned along the gray mile that can make your path a little easier—if you just pay attention to those that have gone before you. Or, you can take the hard road. Your choice.