Thursday, January 27, 2011


Pair of elderly hands
Jan 27, 2011
Russell E. Saltzman

It’s been a ride that has not reached a destination. Those people who say it’s the journey, not the destination, do not know what they are talking about.

My mother is descending—has descended—into dementia. My wife and I have noticed little markers along the way over the last year. I questioned my father and like many husbands, many wives, he insisted she was fine; he never noticed anything. He was lying of course, more to himself than to either of us.

There were episodes he could not possibly have missed, things only now coming to light. But any admission by him that Mom was not up to par would be an admission, first, to himself and one he was not in the least prepared to make. This was the woman he married sixty-eight years ago following a blind date and a fast courtship, upon whom he has relied for everything—up to and including her cleaning his glasses every morning—ever since.

Two weeks ago, or is it now three, her hip shattered in four places. Surgery followed. The surgeon made it sound so easy. Since the hip socket was not involved, she would require but a thirty minute operation to pin and anchor and clamp bones in place, followed by four maybe six weeks in a rehabilitation center, then back home—piece of cake.

I knew that elderly patients with moderate confusion suddenly suffering trauma and surgery may emerge from anesthesia in a greater state of confusion. Perhaps they emerge no worse. The surgeon was optimistic—show me one who isn’t. My mother did not awaken unscathed. Her confusion swiftly grew so distinct she was unable to participate in therapy, and then began nighttime rages of shrieks and howls and daytime spaces filled with blank recognition. the rest  image


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