During the early 2000, in a small, bustling town, there existed a highly visible political family who for generations happened to have a family member or two and about a dozen extended family members ensconced either in an elective or appointive post in government in a fiefdom by the sea.
One day I received a call from the daughter about the octogenarian matriarch who I had diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s Disease a few weeks earlier. Despite her advancing age, she was feisty, up and about and boy, did she cuss! It was because of this that among the gazillion other reasons, no caregiver would last long so that there would be a steady stream of these caregivers, one after the other, coming in and out of her mansion.
This was the time when caregiver schools were the cottage industry du jour. That was why it was not difficult for the family to get a new one when the previous one had to leave, no matter that her stint was only six hours long.
And so it happened that the latest caregiver the family hired was a young, new graduate.
Upon reporting for duty and after having been oriented of her role, she took the matriarch to her room for her afternoon siesta.
All was well until the matriarch woke up and was given her afternoon snacks. She and the caregiver engaged in small talk. They talked about many things – from her childhood which she remembered so well, her children, her grandchildren, her travels, her encounters with the high and mighty in the society. Up until this time, all was well until the discussion and story telling found its way to movie stars.
It turned out that the matriarch was an avid Vilmanian but the caregiver, lo and behold, was an even more rabid Judy Ann fan. While the matriarch was highlighting the attributes of the Star for All Seasons, the caregiver would counter by reciting an even longer litany of the attributes of Judy Ann. When the matriarch cited the awards received by Vilma for her performances in critically acclaimed films in her career that had spanned four decades, the care giver would mention Judy Ann’s box office popularity, numerous product endorsements and hordes of screaming fans. The verbal exchanges between the two reached fever pitch until the matriarch could no longer tolerate such sacrilege she rose from her seat, grabbed the knife and lunged at the terrified caregiver. The matriarch was so intent at getting to her in the name of Vilma! Even after the caregiver went out of the room to seek cover behind the other household staff, even if she ended up running outside into the lanai, to the dainty Japanese garden, until she had no choice but to go out through the huge ornate steel gate, way past the guard house of the house, out of the subdivision and into the busy streets, the care giver kept on running the run of her life, trembling in fear because the matriarch despite her age and wobbly knees, with all the grit and determination from an invincible eighty year old was still there chasing,screaming, running after her, cussing and puffing in between, with knife in one hand, oblivious of the throng of people who very well recognized her and all this because of their arguments between Judy Ann and Vilma.
Ah, the things that movie fans do, Alzheimer’s or not, for these stars!
N.B. The Behavioral and Psychiatric Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease (BPSD) can be life threatening – to the people around them and/or to the patient or to both. To prevent similar situations from happening, avoid conflicts at all cost.
DISCLAIMER: The identities of the subjects in the vignettes and other stories on this blog are intended to be ‘anonymous’ to protect the patient and their families and keep the doctor-patient confidentiality or fiduciary relationship. The personas cited here are not meant to be blind items or fodder for gossip. My lips are zipped in that department. Some of their identities and circumstances have been altered but the nuances of their medical condition are fact and not hidden behind veiled medical-clinical fiction. Think Oliver Sack’s ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat’. Okay, it’s like comparing Roederer Cristal rose wine with vin d’ table but I know you see the drift.