Island Time is a time vacuum created by the ocean’s presence. Where everything moves slow and easy. It has the ability to travel with you, when you are land-locked and the smell of the ocean no longer lingers in the air.
Island Time can run anywhere between ten minutes, ten hours or even ten days behind real time. It embraces forgetfulness and being carefree. With no worries or concerns for schedules or structure or responsibility.
Island Time is a place where the past is gone. The future is yet to be and holds no real appeal. This single moment…right here, right now…is the only one to be savored.
As a caregiver or family member of a person living with dementia, we may sometimes feel as if our loved ones are living on Island Time, in a world known previously only in their dreams. While we live on Dementia Time, in a world known previously only in our worse nightmares.
Confusion. Frustration. Anger. These emotions run amuck in Dementia Time, not only for those who suffer from the disease, but for their caregivers as well.
When my mother’s dementia was in its infancy, our adventures were still enjoyable. Sunday brunch at a new restaurant in town. Chicken on the barbecue at my house. Even a quarterly visit to her family doctor was a chance for a cozy chat in the car during our drive there.
Since my mother’s dementia has progressed to a higher plain, our adventures have become ordeals for me. We no longer go to a restaurant because the setting amplifies her level of confusion. Visiting my house is an exercise in physical and mental frustration. And quarterly doctor appointments are now all day affairs, during which my anger management skills are tested to the max.
I never know which “Mom” will appear each time I see her. Will she be the happy carefree woman, whose bright smile can light up a room? Or will she be in a state of confusion, inhibiting all conversation? Or will it be a combination of both, changing direction faster than an ocean breeze before the storm?
However, as difficult as it can be to do, I still embrace the concept of Island Time to triumph over Dementia Time. Because each moment with my mother is one to be savored. It does not matter what experiences we have shared in the past. And our future is yet to be written.