The love is there, even if he doesn't remember why.
Any family who has had a loved one suffer from dementia knows how incredibly difficult it can be. The CDC estimates that 5.8 million people in the United States have Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, which means many millions more are serving as caregivers for family members with dementia.
Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia, but there are others. For instance, alcohol abuse can cause dementia, which is what happened to the father of a woman named Bailey who has been sharing their mutual journey on TikTok.
Bailey's dad, Scott, was diagnosed with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (caused by vitamin B1 deficiency due to alcohol abuse) earlier this year, and he has been living with Bailey for the past six months. In her videos, Bailey gives glimpses of daily life with her dad and the ups and downs of helping him manage a life with missing memories.
One thing Bailey's videos show is that dementia is not a one-size-fits-all condition. As with most people with dementia, Scott has good days and bad days, but his ability to communicate what he's feeling even when he's confused is quite incredible.
Not being remembered by your own parent, however, isn't easy. And figuring out how to communicate with a loved one who doesn't know who you are without scaring or confusing them further is a huge challenge. But Bailey shared an exchange with her father that beautifully illustrates how their emotional connection is still there, even if he doesn't remember why.
In the video, Scott tells Bailey that her calling him "Dad" freaks him out. He says he has feelings for her and knows that she is important to him, but that he doesn't think he's her dad. He also says he doesn't want to hurt her feelings. She explains how she feels about him and offers to call him Scott if he prefers, and the whole interaction is just beautiful.
Some days are easier than others.. i miss you dad, but i love you very much, Scott. #dementiaawareness #wernickesencephalopathy #caregiversoftiktok #parentofmyparents
"Some days are easier than others," Bailey wrote in the caption. "I miss you dad, but I love you very much, Scott."
Seeing Bailey's family navigate the hard parts as well as the healing that has come from Scott's illness is truly eye-opening. Those who are going through a similar journey might find inspiration in how they communicate with one another and those who haven't seen much dementia firsthand can learn what it might look like.
Of course, each person's experience is unique and you can't always apply what works for one person to another, but there's a lot all of us can learn from witnessing others handle something so difficult with grace and patience and love.
I love you dad. If you haven’t yet, go hug your parents/loved ones today. #dementiaawareness #youarenotalone #ilovemyparents #fyp #fatherdaughterlove
Bailey's family has experienced a change in Scott's behavior that has actually been positive in some ways. She has said he has become more pleasant to be around, and some of her videos showing his emotional accessibility and willingness to apologize for hurtful things he'd done are so moving.
People change and we believe in second chances. As sad as this has been, it’s a second chance for all of us 🤍#caregiversoftiktok #foryoupage #wernickekorsakoffawareness #tbisurvivor #parentofmyparents #ilovemyfamily
And Bailey's way of entering his world, helping him figure out what's real when he's open to it and going along with where and who he thinks he is when correcting him would just cause more confusion is a masterclass in communicating with someone with dementia. It can't be easy, but she excels at it.
Replying to @hiddenstyle4 we have happy convos all the time! :) #caregiversoftiktok #dementiaawareness #wernickesencephalopathy #wetbrain #parentofmyparents
Thanks to Bailey for being vulnerable enough to share her family's experiences so the world can see examples of patiently loving someone through dementia, and so those who are going through something similar know they are not alone.
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