People stare. Most are not unkind; they are just curious. But when someone "different" from the norm becomes part of their environment, they often gawk without thinking about or understanding how this affects others. Anyone who has cared for a disabled child or has a visible disability of their own knows this. However, people who care for an elder with dementia may have more difficulty coping with the stares of the public because the person they are caring for was once their dignified father or charismatic mother. The pain of seeing others stare, not knowing how this person was robbed of his or her cognitive abilities, has the potential to bring out the defensive protector that lies within each of us.
Dementia Constantly Throws Us Curveballs: In addition to this public pressure, when I used to take my father to his frequent doctor's appointments at the local clinic, I was also faced with the challenge of not knowing which version of Dad I would be escorting. Dad's dementia descended, full-blown, overnight following surgery. He was a dignified intellectual, who made it his life's work to be considerate and caring to others. But now he was suddenly capable of becoming a spectacle at a moment's notice.
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