alt=a younger woman clutches her mother. Both look frightened of the speech bubbles that surround them.

The "D" Word

Our house hunt has been long. All the people who hated their houses decided it was prime time to sell, and I have hated them, too, except for the ones I loved. Because inventory has been at an all-time low, everything has been snapped up well above asking, and Rockefellers have been waltzing in with all-cash offers to scoop up my dream home while I just gaped with my otherwise "strong offer." I want to get mama settled and start finding new doctors for her.

Dementia stigma

A nice man and his business partner, who took up house-flipping as their quarantine hobby, liked us and our offer so they sold us their house. We are working through all of the logistics and the home will be ours. There are not a lot of stairs, and the microwave isn't above the stove, so mama can't drop scalding bowls of grits from overhead. There is a lot of "dementia proofing" to consider, which brings me to the word... The "D" word.

According to Google

Dementia is defined as a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.

I get this part. Learning about Alzheimer’s Disease has enlightened me. Mom has "trouble talking," as she says. And she has trouble with her memory, she would also say.

It's the rest of the definition I have trouble with. So does mama.

Similar: 

mental illness
Madness, insanity, 

derangement, 

lunacy, 

senile, dementia, 
softening of the brain
Opposite: 

sanity

Origin - late 18th century: from Latin, from demens, dement- 'out of one's mind.'

Recalling dad's decline

It is those latter definitions that stop me cold. My dad did some crazy things as he was declining, like the time he rubbed deodorant on his face instead of under his arms. And instead of running his electric razor across his whiskers, he ended up shaving his armpits. We were glad he didn’t shave his pits to complete the swap! He also tried to eat small Christmas ornaments. I think he thought they were cherries. His vision was terrible.

Considerations for mom

I was very picky while shopping for a family home. Mom lives with us. I did not want insane tripping hazards, like sunken living rooms and uneven flooring with awkward transitions. We all stub our toes very easily. Some split-level houses would need a map or a guide rope to find your way from a bedroom on one level to the living room on another and the kitchen on yet another. Was the bathroom on the mid-level or basement? Too much navigation. I would lose my mother in the house. At least, she would lose us. Will my mom completely "lose it?"

A harsh word

My mom is scared of the "D" word. She heard her new doctor ask if she had dementia when he saw her list of medications because one of them is used to treat it. That word is so harsh. I'm scared of it, too: to be out of one’s mind? I guess that is what happens. Like there is a sign on the door of the brain, saying, "I'm sorry, I'm out."

No labels, no worries

There is no clock saying when the business will resume. But for now, mom is mostly still here. We will have a good house for her to feel safe and hopefully not fall or get lost. The only labels she needs to worry about are "mom" and "grandma."

What is your opinion about the "D" word? Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.

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