May 9, 2012

dear clusterflock

After a conversation with a dear long-time friend who is descending into the murk of what they call dementia, I’m dazed and confused. One of many cruel details: My fading friend introduced me to the works of Iris Murdoch when I was seventeen or so.

I’m all tore up. Listening to Sandy Denny singing By the Time It Gets Dark and snuffling. But trying to smack some sense into my sorry self-pitying self.

Seeking resources above and beyond the obvious. Most especially, looking for help for LGBT couples and for alternatives to traditional nursing home settings. Where? In or near Dallas, Texas. When? Now.

Grateful for whatever thoughts you may share here on clusterflock or via our contact form.


  1. Sheila Ryan on May 9th, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    My friend’s partner is overwhelmed by the burden of care and is in need of help looking after a wonderful, once-brilliant woman who may not be so far gone after all.

  2. Michael Grant Smith on May 9th, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    When a relative of mine became seriously ill last year, we found a local “Meals on Wheels” provider who sent prepared food every day at a regular time. The delivery person wasn’t a professional caregiver, but in conjunction with a visiting nurse was a good way to have at least two human visits/interactions per day, besides what family members could manage.

    My point is, having as much of that traffic as possible helps families (and partners) who work for a living find the means to cope with the demands of loved ones in need.

    Sorry, that’s all I’ve got. At least your friend has their partner, and you. That’s more than many do.

  3. Sheila Ryan on May 9th, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    That’s a helpful reminder, MGS, and I thank you. The move back to Dallas will be good; my friend has been dreadfully isolated for the past two years.

    I’m wore out. I’m fixing me some Uncle Sam Cereal and Rice Dream and so some staring and eating.

  4. jannx on May 9th, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    +1 for MGS’s suggestion. My dad spent his last days with dementia. I arranged for a “neighbourhood support group” Seniors Programs in North Toronto / SPRINT to pick him up a couple of days a week for a day of planned activities and also for meals on wheels. It helped immensely.

  5. Casey Cichowicz on May 10th, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I’m very sorry to hear it, Sheila. My only experience with dementia has been my grandmother, so I’m no expert, but is a very sad thing. I don’t have a lot of advice to give (except to suggest your friend find assistance to not be overwhelmed, which of course is the purpose of your post), but I am thinking good thoughts for you and your friend. We did find that there were various professional and semi-professional caregivers that could help with the various daily needs (food, cleaning, interaction) that can be found through community groups and word-of-mouth. That kept her at home for a few additional years and made things a little more manageable.

  6. Sheila Ryan on May 10th, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    And thanks to both of you, Jan and Casey, for your comments. It’s true I’m aware that there’s help out there, but it’s good to have my awareness reinforced, as well as having instances I can cite to my friend’s partner by way of example.

    The actual move (less than two weeks away) will be a challenge, but I’m confident the situation will improve once these folks are in Dallas, where they have friends and where there are more resources than are available where they’re living now.

  7. eslie m on May 10th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    In Texas, they have a network of ADRC’s — Aging and Disability Resource Councils — if she’s one of those counties, they can help with professional resource and referral to local services.