Thursday, January 12, 2012


Groucho Marx was a master of ambiguity.

“Last night, I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know. But I’m sure capitalism is to blame.”

He also proclaimed, “Marxism is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?

I have given up listening to political pundits for a few months because they dissect ambiguity to death. Politicians make extreme, apodictic statements while speaking to a group leaning in a particular direction and then they must scramble to clarify when the position is reported to the general public. The complete picture takes too long to communicate.

Sound bites may be memorable but they leave the speaker open to various interpretations.

Families with a declining loved one grasp at reported sound bites. If they are not intimately involved every day, evaluation ranges from detached acceptance to criticism.

Families attempt to judge the primary caregiver without recognizing the ever present paradox. Especially when a second marriage pulls in unrelated adults who have spouses and who all swing on their own rope. The caregiver experiences enough stress dealing with the loved one’s contradictory behaviors. He or she does not need outside opinions from within the family.

When Dementia has been diagnosed each family member must recognize that they are now living with ambiguity. To deny the reality is to curse the primary caregiver. Distant relatives who rarely see the family member are often the most easily deluded.

A daughter caring for her father might say, “Last night I wanted to strangle Dad in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I don’t know. I’m so exhausted I don’t know what I’m doing.”

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