In my smug, I-was-a-social-worker mind, when I decided to move across the country and look after my aging parent, I thought I was prepared for every situation that could arise. I spent seven years in the field dealing with the elderly and their unique problems. Later I moved into the administration of contracts which provided services for the clients.
I thought if I hadn't seen it all up close and personal, I surely heard about it all when my cohorts and I vented our stories to each other for the sake of our own sanity.
In my repertoire of personally experienced situations, I encountered several clients of varying ages and both genders, with a definite predilection for housewares as millinery. Read that, people who put metal colanders and the occasional lampshade on their heads for protection. I only saw a couple of lampshades, the upside-down colanders were clearly the front-runners for the stylish.
For some reason, a few dementia patients like to invert the metal colanders on their heads usually to block the signals or rays sent out by the bad guys, the government, or the aliens for the imaginative among the delusional. Those truly serious about protection have been known to make antennae out of tinfoil, wrapping it around and extending upward from the feet of the colander, the better to pick up "the signals" dontchaknow. This is a true story, I personally witnessed on more than one occasion.
Others even more protective of their privacy cover all their windows in tinfoil, which makes firing guns out of them a logistic nightmare. If you fire through the tinfoil, you've left a hole the aliens may use. If you take the time to move the tinfoil, they might get you before you can fire. Like I said a logistical dilemma of the first order. There is no win-win situation.
I also learned never to wear red, or at least wear it with the knowledge it might get me in trouble. Once I was called out by the police to see a man who was having a psychotic episode. He had been shooting out his window at the Communists who were trying to attack him. Nobody shared that bit of info with me. Naturally, I showed up wearing a dark red shirt. With the police present, I talked to the man for a few minutes, then he ran to the bedroom, supposedly to get his gun.
Some of the officers followed him, while two more literally carried me out of the apartment (no small feat) and deposited me behind a police cruiser. They managed to subdue the poor man without injuring him or suffering any injuries themselves. He was taken for psychiatric evaluation and ultimately committed. Later the admitting psychiatrist called me to tell me the man had fixated on me so another social worker should be assigned to his case when it was time for his release. The reason? The man thought I was a KGB agent because I wore a red shirt and everybody knows that's how you recognize them. Poor guy was a wounded vet from the Vietnam war, no telling what he had seen.
The most common delusion I encountered was the world is operating in the hands of a global conspiracy in which "they" make the rules and decide everybody's fate. "They" are always omnipotent, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, hear all our personal conversations, and listen in to our private thoughts for the really dedicated members of the demented. We poor sods can do very little to protect ourselves in such situations except guard our words and our thoughts.
Again, these are real situations I have experienced many times in person. There are lots of folks out there who exhibit these symptoms - At least there were in Dallas when I worked in the field there. Texas is unique in many ways, but such delusions are exhibited all over our country and probably all over the world.
Read any relevant websites or watched any "prepper" television lately? I rest my case on that one.
By the way, I don't care what anybody says, I'm not storing my iPhone in the microwave so "they" can't listen to my conversation. I blew up a 7/11 microwave years ago when I ignorantly put in one of their hotdogs wrapped in tinfoil...I'm not repeating that with expensive Apple equipment.
Besides, I watch enough movies to know how strong directional microphones, spy satellites, and those sneaky little drones are these days!
The other day I was with my father and he started in on his favorite theme, the corporation from which he retired after working for them 42 years is running everything now, stealing his money, his investments, and the contents of his safe deposit box. When I tried to dissuade him of this notion (hoping I could make him see reason...fat chance, Girly-Girl) he looked at me with pity in his eyes and said "Sharon don't you know who really runs this country?"
Like any good 1960s-1970s educated liberal, I answered "Yes, the military/industrial complex." That's not original with me. President Eisenhower warned the country about those folks in his final speech to the nation. I mean, he was a General and if anybody should know, he should.
Dad shook his head in pity at my ignorance. After a moment I distracted him and we moved on to a more benign conversation.
That's when I knew for certain and for all time, my father is not with me anymore. The once brilliant man, known for his management skill on an international level, has not only left the building, he's left this world.
In his place is an alien entity, implanted with some of his long-term memories and none of his short-term ones.
I guess I'd better stock up on the tinfoil.
In all seriousness, it's one thing to deal with clients in this condition, it's quite another when it's someone you love. I usually gunny-sack my emotions when I'm with him and cry later when I'm alone. It tears me apart to see him like this. My dad is an alien stranger who no longer remembers my mother died holding his hand. He tells people he divorced her and snickers when he says it.
That one really hurts.
So, if you are a caregiver laugh when you can. It helps release some of the pain. If you are close to a caregiver make them laugh. They'll be grateful even if you never hear them say it.
Remember the Lord Byron quote -
And if I laugh at any mortal thing, tis that I may not weep.
Brighten someone's day, okay?