Walking Away

In today's news, a famous British sportsman, Ian Botham gave an interview in which he talks about his father's dementia and his decision to stop visiting his father months before his father died.  He states that it was horrendous to see his father's diminished capacity and behavior changes as a result of Alzheimer's.  He asks that no one judges him unless they've been in his shoes.

Lyn's not violent.  She can be a brat.  Lyn's capacity is diminishing on a daily basis but she's not yet "a shell" of a person.  It is painful to see the changes some days.  Her care is sometimes a heavy burden for Mom.  The changes in her are definitely having an emotional impact on us all.

Mr. Botham's father passed in 2005.  It is my hope that the care we provide dementia patients has improved some as our understanding of their experiences is improved.  His father's violence would be traumatic to experience.  His father was in a nursing home and being tended to by the staff there.  However, I'm not sure, even then, that I could just walk away and have no more contact with my loved one.  The thought of that just seems like abandonment to me.


  1. It would be tough to see this happen a person. I have all the respect in the world for your Mother.
    Someday, maybe sooner than later she will be forced to put Lyn in a "home." That will be a tough time also and maybe a guilty feeling of relief. "Guilt, the gift that keeps on giving."--R.H.

  2. That's a very interesting thought, R.H. I will address it in tomorrow's post.

  3. My father and grandmother both died with dementia, and I remember that my uncle refused to go see my grandmother in the nursing home. He didn't see her for several years before she died. My dad visited nearly every day after work, and us grandkids stopped in to see her any time we were in town. Different people process differently, I think.

    My mom and my sister and I cared for my dad in their home until he died, with my sister and I flying in from out of state to help. The week he passed we were looking at nursing homes, because our energy was about gone and we didn't think Mom could handle his physical care any longer. In retrospect, I'm thankful he passed before going through the disruption of being admitted.

    Going through all of this has convinced me that I have no right or desire to judge anyone else's response. But I do hope my own kids will choose to stay involved if my husband or I develop dementia. I know Dad knew he was loved, and that was important to us.

    The other thing I found from such a long, drawn-out process of caring for him was that once he passed, my mom, sister and I had pretty much completed all our grieving. Some people didn't understand that and thought we should be devastated. But we had been grieving "in pieces" for almost ten years, and we just felt weary - weary and ready to move on to whatever was ahead in our lives.

    1. Thank you for the very thoughtful response Sharon. I'm not there yet with regards to not judging. I tried to strike a moderate tone with this post but really, I don't understand just walking away and not even visiting. While I recognize that others process things differently, I also recognize that my perspective is very much influenced by the fact that my own father walked away from his children and has seen neither of my siblings in 36 years. I saw him once nearly 20 years ago. So, my personal experience makes it very difficult to understand the perspective that lets people just step away and never return.


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