My 89-year-old father has begun a rapid cognitive decline.
Affected, no doubt, by the quarantine imposed on his retirement community in response to the pandemic, he has been afflicted recently by hallucinations. He sees random strangers in his apartment, and several different versions of my mother.
One evening, he called me to explain he was being held hostage by a stranger in a strange room, and needed to get back to his own room and his wife. When I calmly directed him to walk to his desk, and asked him what he saw there, he recognized the photograph of his own father and realized that his mind was playing tricks on him. He began to cry.
This week, we met with a social worker to consider treatment plans. During the visit, my father described his 43-year corporate career, all with the same Fortune 500 company, and how he was the vice president of engineering. He spent his career solving problems, he told the social worker — but he can’t seem to solve this particular problem that affects his brain, and it frustrates him.
He concluded his remarks by expressing, with great sadness: “I am now a problem to be solved.”