It’s–Still–Hard to Say

By Rowena Richie with Joyce Calvert


Unwritten by Joyce Calvert[1]









[1] I invited writer and dementia caregiver Joyce Calvert to follow up on our previous article, “It’s Hard to Say.” It was written last spring when Joyce felt like she was drowning in caregiving for her wife Jane, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease. After two years of a dementia-centric pandemic, Joyce made the hard decision to move Jane into residential care. Earlier this month Jane moved out of the home they shared. Joyce was finally coming up for air. But after a few nights at the care facility Joyce found out that Jane was being manhandled into bed. Jane is back home, safe. Joyce called to tell me she could no longer write the essay and agreed to me footnoting this unwritten space. “The caregiver sinkhole leaves a blank page. And the barren expanse is filled with the echoes of lost creativity and the richness of life,” she told me. A prayer for Joyce and Jane. This happens to dementia caregivers all the time: a plan is upset; something doesn’t happen because of the unpredictable, relentless nature of caregiving. What if we thought of those first nights in memory care as sacred? Would we still push people to the brink trying to keep their loved ones at home as long as possible? May this blank page bring visibility to an elder care system that inadequately educates, compensates and supports professional and family caregivers. That all too often prioritizes convenience over compassion, efficiency over dignity. Let’s rewrite the narrative starting here.

This article appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of In Dance.