I received an email a little over a week ago from an individual who had chanced upon Dementia Be Damned and found that the post on Lyn's inability to play solitaire struck a chord. The email raised several red flags for me. Fortunately, the individual included their phone number and we were able to arrange time for a conversation. After speaking with the individual, I remain concerned and have followed up with an email with links to the SAGE tests and domestic violence resources.
Here's the thing: A caregiver's safety is not trumped by the needs of a person who needs care. If the person who needs care is violent or abusive, the caregiver has a right to be safe. Period. Full stop.
It doesn't matter if the person who needs care is violent because of Alzheimer's, mental illness or sheer ugliness and a history of being abused themselves. It doesn't matter if the person who needs care is dealing with a terminal disease or a chronic condition. The caregiver needs to be safe. The caregiver needs to know that they have safety in their own home and that there is safety for everyone else living in the home. If the caregiver is a family member and not a paid professional, the safety in their own home is complicated by the fact that it most likely means the person who needs care lives with there too.
So, what can be done? If the person becomes violent or abusive, if the person won't let you leave, you may have to call the police. You may have to ask friends and family to help you get your stuff and get you out. You may need to call upon the resources provided by domestic violence shelters.
No matter what, your safety is more important than caring for someone who is abusive even if they're abusive as a result of a disease and it is out of their control.
I sincerely hope the person's situation receives the care that is needed and that it changes quickly and positively. I remain open to future contact and updates even if it is determined that the person needing care doesn't have Alzheimer's.