Some things really “level the playing field”.
Dementia is one of those things.
The wandering thoughts of the brilliant become as uninspired as those of the dullest.
A man who advised United States’ presidents and developed national policy lays in his bed at the end of his days, with the same perplexing questions we will all have, only his are voiced through the haze of slowly dissolving cognition. No longer able to comprehend so much of what happens in his day, he cannot remember if he ate breakfast and is uncertain how to use a straw in a glass. But he says to me, after the other nurse and I have finished re-positioning him, “I am really done with this project. This project has just become too much”.
What project you might ask? …Well, I suspect it is this task of dying. For the world renowned person, or the “ordinary” person, dying shatters the calm and prepared…ready, or not… For the person with dementia, I believe there
remains as well a sense of the dying process as the end approaches.
Every person seems to have a “knowing”.
All the accomplishments of a lifetime and one must face death like every other
Death- the other leveler of persons.
After ensuring my patient’s comfort and some moments of questions regarding his needs, (and receiving mostly befuddled answers), when I asked what I could get for him, the one-word reply was “Peace”.
Clearly, he is more aware than any of us know.
Through the labyrinth of tangled thoughts, the simple need is expressed. Peace- something we all wish for, today and certainly at the end of our lives.
And, yes, he died with peace pervading.