People nowadays tend to focus on the diagnosed and symptomatic diseases that affect the human mind commonly referred to as Alzheimer’s and Dementia, the latter being just a beginning of the deterioration of the memory and onslaught of confusion. Each of these names signifies the downfall of the person who used to exist within a familiar world of family and friends as well as significant everyday schedules that kept life in order. In other words, even though there are differences, humans within a “later” age range are labeled “crazy” before a formal diagnosis from a professional expert is made. If one’s memory fails, self-esteem falls to its lowest as they are reminded that they are not on par. Immediately, they are labeled as their families become frustrated with their behavior rather than accepting with patience the process of aging, if that is really what it is.
Those of us with aging family and friends are caught up in this dilemma by playing doctor, as drawing conclusions when someone with whom we have had a long-term relationship fails to express themselves clearly or forgets something we think they should know on the spot. The first thing is to call this loved one “crazy,” which has the connotation of a lunatic who runs around like a chicken without a head! Loosely used, the culprits voicing the hurtful names may still feel like they want to be engaged with the “loony” person with memory loss by labeling it without a medical diagnosis. In other words, they do not want to be bothered or even conclude, G/d forbid, that they are making their loved ones feel worse. Unconsciously, the word “crazy” or other barbs about forgetfulness, confusion, or depression are the very cause of the symptoms that the loved one is feeling! So, the jumping from normal to age related forgetfulness and the negative reactions all act to contribute to the downfall that is set off by others.
Yes, it can be age related; however, parents can induce “craziness” by their reactions to their children, husbands and wives can create “craziness” in their partner in a dysfunctional relationship, friends can disappoint and emotionally drain us to a point of believing that we cannot function, and on and on it goes. So, who is to say that one’s pain is always a biological deterioration of the mind? That is my point.
One of the most common forms of causing one to forget, become confused, or depressed is purposeful bullying. For example, a friend of mine had a sister-in-law who immediately, upon her father’s untimely death, began to badger her widowed mother because of a “healthy savings account” left to her. The widow was not ill before her husband’s death nor forgetful or confused. Upon facing the responsibilities she had and the overwhelming sadness of loss, she began showing what are normal signs of fear. Sadly, due to the lack of support from her daughter’s family, depression set in and she began to walk around crying, losing keys and phones and missing appointments. She was lonely and desperately trying to gain the support and love of her family. However, due to the obsession with greed, the seventy-eight year old, once functioning woman, was badgered into signing over her accounts to her daughter. This was only the beginning of the end. So, again, who is to say who is the “crazy “ one?
I try to remember as I write this that each of us have the gift of life. We were placed here on earth for a reason, none of us having the same characteristics as the other. It is positive to have some scientific knowledge about an aging mind; however, we must be careful not to be doctors or psychologists who are trained in the areas and are looking for cures to make it better, not worse.
I pray that you take a deep breath and let the air out slowly remembering these words about judgment of others who are showing signs of weakness in their behaviors. You just never know what they are going through.