Every Woman Who’s Caring for Aging Parents Deserves a Break from Reality

When my brother died three years ago, my mother’s mind had begun taking turns down fanciful paths with views far more lovely than the one reality offers. She started to have spells during which she believed that her son was actually two people, one the grown man who had died of an overdose, one a child, a “little guy,” who crawls into bed and sleeps with her at night.

These delusions, occasional at first, soon grew more intense, prolonged and frequent. Eventually she started believing that we’re living in a different house than the one my parents had bought back when my brother and I were young. When her doctor told her gently, as sat I watching, that she “has some dementia issues,” I simply nodded, went home and gave my father the diagnosis we both knew was coming.

Every single woman who is taking care of someone with so cruel a disease as dementia should get a three-day pass to sit in an opulent resort along the sea in the Mexican sun. A prescription to Pacifica should be written and given to all the members of the “daughter care” army, as we’re all being called now, according to the New York Times. The Times article sounded the alarm about the aging American population, the increase in dementia cases that will result from it (3 million more, up to 8.5 million by 2030), and the burden it will place upon women, who minister to elderly parents in disproportionately greater numbers than men. According to the Times, these duties, which are mostly unpaid, tend to isolate us socially, causing problems in marriages and friendships.

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