“In the midst of confusion, love is the only compass.”
Hello, I am writing today because as you may know, I am a caregiver for my 84 year old friend who has dementia. I attend to her everyday, prepare meals, feed the cat, ensure she takes her medication and things of that nature. I do this alone and without compensation, and I have been doing well with the situation until today. My friend once had a beautiful ring that she gave me because my fingers are just as small as hers were when she could wear it. After several months and before she became demented, she asked that I return the ring, which I did. Last night I was in her bathroom and noticed that the ring was not in its usual place so I asked her what had become of the ring. Suffice to say I did not sleep last night because there are circumstances beyond my control with respect to the subject ring. Today my friend, Joyce, told me that she had given it to another friend, the woman who was the subject of an investigation by Adult Protective Services. Many of "us" suspected that this person was stealing money and items from Joyce, I notified the bank and they were the ones who contacted Adult Protective Services. I spoke at great length to the social worker and expressed my valid concerns about this other woman because she is the reason that Joyce has no financial security, presently. The woman cleaned her out and that is why they split up. For reasons I am unable to wrap my head around, I cannot understand why Joyce continues to place this person on a pedestal. The fact that she gave her this ring deeply hurt me because she had assured me that she would return it to me after she was done looking at it, again pre dementia. There is no reason other than the fact that this woman probably wanted to sell the ring, for her to have it, because it was too small for her fingers and even if she tried to have it resized, it would not have looked right on her hand, as she is a large woman with big hands. The subject ring was small and was designed for a small person, like myself and Joyce. Joyce was unable to explain to me why she gave away the ring, and that is okay. However, just a couple of weeks ago I caught this woman red handed taking things from Joyce and I told her that if anything else belonging either to myself or Joyce goes missing, I would file a police report and contact Adult Protective services. She responded that she would forward my "threatening" message to a niece who works at the DA's office, and I responded, "please do." I understand that situations like this are common, but that does not make it any easier for me. Yes, I accept that Joyce is no longer the "Joyce" I grew to love and spend time with. I never anticipated being in the "parent" position, and in all honesty I wish I could back off. However, Joyce has no one else who is willing to do the things that I do for her. While I had hoped to take a break and go stay with my sister, whose husband also has advanced dementia, an invitation has not been extended and I am not planning to ask again if and when I may come up for a visit.
I feel some guilt about the fact that I need a break. On the other hand, I know that I am doing the right thing by taking care of her because I have a big heart. Maybe it is too big.
After talking to Joyce on the phone earlier I became very upset and actually felt hurt by the fact that the subject ring was given to someone who I believe is taking advantage of Joyce's mental state. It is not the ring, it is the fact that she apparently does not feel the same way about me as she does for the woman who I will call a female lethario (from Shakespeare).
Recently Joyce has been telling me about the things in her apartment that "the other woman" wants when Joyce dies. She says things like, "so and so has "dibs" on that, so you cannot have it." Please keep in mind that I have not asked Joyce for anything, but have suggested that if there are certain things of hers that she wants to give to certain people, she needs to write it down so that there is no confusion in the event of her death.
We had plans to celebrate my birthday next Monday, but I told her today that I did not want to celebrate my birthday with anyone, and made up an excuse that I have a doctors appointment. Why? Because I am saddened that this birthday will be totally unlike the birthdays we have celebrated for the past 10 years. My grief over the loss of her "friendship" is enormous, and as a result I would rather not spend the day with her. Fine, because I have had a bad year anyway in terms of my own health and in all fairness, I just want to go into deep cover.
Has anyone had a similar experience, and if so, how did you cope with this kind of loss?