WCP Life Solutions

Repeat after me…he has Dementia…she has Dementia…

For awhile now I have had the role as a court appointed Guardian for individuals who had diminished capacity and find themselves without family or friends who can take care of them.  I should note, that for several years I have given presentations or led family caregiver support groups where individuals would come together to work through the challenges that such a role can present.  I did this through my professional role as a counselor and mediator.  I have heard from and coached dozens of families who have struggled through this most difficult and painful process.

Wow did I have it right!!  While this role is selfless, very loving, moving  and compassionate.  It is more.  It is difficult.  It is painful.  It at times can be less rewarding than fulfilling: draining and even hurtful.  As I find myself dealing with  just a fraction of what a live-in family loved one serving in the role of caregiver works through; my heart goes out even more to all of those I have met.  I get to go home and can have the phone between me and them (at least for awhile).

There are specifics of my role that are different from the more traditional situation.  These specifics bring their own level of frustrations that live in concert with the world of court, hearing, and attorneys.  But there is one thing that is constant in both worlds.

The individual we are working with has Dementia.  They look at and live within the world from a  broken perspective.  As such, their answers, their beliefs, their actions…their reality is disparate from our own.  Our loved ones, will say and do things that hurt us, and regardless of our feelings compel us one way or another.  You have given hours, days, weeks and even years of your time only to be crushed by an outburst that you are “worthless” or “incompetent.”     Take a breath….  Repeat after me…

And it will happen again if not tomorrow…next week.  Oh, and next month again.

We refer back to the “definition” I gave earlier.  They live in a broken world.  Especially in the early days of their illness.  They may even have dementia that is barely noticeable They function so highly, yet they can so easily fall into cracks and potholes that come out of nowhere.  You know that this path can instantly cause irreparable harm physically or financially – you constantly live in fear.  They do not.  Take a breath… Repeat after me…

As I live this life now with those I have counseled and coached over recent years, I am reminding myself of a few things.  Those I care for and support through this terrible disease are amazing individuals with an incredible story.  I am a part of that ongoing story.  In those moments that do not seem so amazing or incredible…it is not them.  It is the dementia.


–Mark Duhrkoop