Too frail to fail, too old to hold? Don’t believe it.

Do you remember the episodes of the Sopranos where Uncle Junior faked dementia to avoid prosecution?

I do.

As someone who had two parents with senile dementia listed as cause of death, I’ll say that Joe’s dementia is remarkably consistent, and easily identifiable … very different from what I experienced with my folks. It’s almost like watching a fictional television show where they are writing about dementia, without much personal experience … or for dramatic effect.

Like the cop shows of the 1980s where the police were in shootouts every episode it was outside the realm of reality. If you talk to any cop who worked during the 80s, most will say they never even drew their weapon during their career.  The cop shows were a Hollywood writer’s idea of what police work was like. 

What Joe Biden is doing on camera looks a bit like a 1980s cop-show version of dementia.

Real dementia involves a lot more spontaneous crying … or any spontaneous crying.

The “memory” thing that is causing people to say he obviously has dementia, isn’t what advanced senility looks like.

It’s what people think it looks like.

I wish I could describe what actual senility looks like, or even describe a specific event in my parents' care that caused me to think Cheatin’ Joe is faking it.

Police in the Texas Panhandle just seem to know when a car drives past them with a trunk full of meth.  If you asked them how they know, they wouldn’t be able to really put it into words.  This is the same for me with this situation.  I wish I could find the words. I’d  better, after all, I’m trying to write an essay about this subject.

Let’s try this:  Because of various portrayals of senility on television, I was wholly unprepared for it when I encountered a nonfictional situation.  The ideas of what dementia looks like were so misrepresented by fictional portrayals, I had trouble identifying that senility was what my parents were experiencing. 

And the doctors didn’t bother testing for it, so we were left on our own, twisting in the wind.

If I were trying to fake dementia to try to convince someone… I would probably act a lot more like Joe than my Mom and Dad.

If I were faking it, I would stumble about and look confused, I would mix up people's names, and throw out random gibberish in my speech.  I would pretend not to remember.

My parents remembered their jobs and in what order in life they occurred.  They remembered the names of people they were just introduced to.  And their random gibberish was so remarkably composed, I would compare it to liberal word salad … dumb, but arranged to sound authoritative. 

And it almost always fooled me.

This example seems weak, but the following is really the least-nuanced and most obvious dementia … thing, I experienced with mom.

My Mom was feeding her cat strangely.  At the time, I had a home-based small business that kept me on duty 24/7, just like her care, and for three years I only got to sleep five hours a night at most. I was exhausted all the time.

As I was doing the daily routine, including grocery shopping … I noticed that canned cat food was always on her list, no matter how many cans I purchased the day before (or was it the day before that ? On five hours' sleep, who knows?)

After a few weeks and several strange confrontations with Mom about the frequency with which canned cat food ended up on her list; I decided to keep all grocery receipts.

A week later, I pulled them out and discovered that she was having me spend something in the neighborhood of $900 a month on Fancy Feast based on the week’s buying pattern.

When I showed her the receipts, I got the strangest reaction from her that involved lots of tears and accusations of me trying to starve her cat.

It was so bizarre that I backed off, and just kept buying ridiculous amounts of cat food to keep her from getting upset.

I brought in all the food, and took out all the garbage … and to this day I have no idea what she did with all that cat food.  She didn’t eat it, and there’s no way the cat ate it … so I don’t know.

Mom’s death certificate said: Senile Dementia of the Brain as cause of death.  While I wasn’t surprised, I wasn’t expecting that to be the cause.

And only after she was gone for a while, was I able to piece together the puzzle and reach the same conclusion as the medical examiner.

I see it now, quite clearly.  But it was anything but obvious at the time.

Now, while there is a case to be made that Ukraine money sounds a lot like Mom’s cat food … I seriously doubt it.

On the other hand, if I were Joe, and my son was Hunter, I would be busy pretending I didn’t know who the president was … that’s for sure.

Joe is just so obvious.

Image: Picryl // public domain

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