Adventures in Dementia*land: Part V

When What Dementia Takes Away Is a Good Thing


One of the gifts of dementia and memory loss is that traumatic things can be largely forgotten. And it’s not just that the event is forgotten, but even the emotional residue. This is not always true, but it is sometimes true.

There has actually been a big gift that has come from my mother’s cognitive diminishment: the way she used to emotionally punish us children or even her sister, this ability to retaliate for some perceived slight or unintended insult, seems to have been one of the areas of her brain that has malfunctioned. Thankfully.

Allow me a small, related digression: Alice is the mother of a dear friend. She lives in a nursing home. She is in her late 80s, a respectable age for dementia. Alice welcomes my friend/her daughter, takes delight in her regular visits, doesn’t always know her daughter’s name, but knows that they love each other and voices this continually. This woman has lost nearly every capacity…except the capacity to laugh.

I hope that if dementia is my fate, that I am like Alice — we share no genetics, so the odds are against it.

I know my mother’s fate is different than Alice’s. If I had a dementia magic wand, I would wave it over my mother and grant her Alice’s inclination to laugh and love. Instead I feel real gratitude for the loss of that part of my mother’s brain that stops her from lashing out at people, resulting in them (me) scurrying away to lick our wounds.

This is a series of a dozen-plus posts.  Click here for the first one.

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