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Archive for the ‘Elder Care’ Category

My sister and I took my Dad to the neurologist’s office this morning so we could learn more about about the memory problems he’s been having. I had a bad feeling going into the appointment because my siblings and I have thought for some time now that he needs to move to a senior care facility, but he’s been very resistant. I just didn’t think the doctor would find his memory loss significant enough to warrant his staying in a “home” of any sort. I was surprised to see that I was very wrong.

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I guess forgiveness is just in the air. I just couldn’t let it go. I called my dad today to tell him our family had experienced enough broken relationships and that I wanted the pain to stop. I indicated that in spite of how distant our relationship has been since, well, forever, I wanted to do whatever it takes to reach something more akin to friendship. My dad is going senile, so I don’t think he fully understood what I was saying. However, he knew I was reaching out to him, and I believe he appreciated it. He said he would try to call me back but if I didn’t hear from him I should call him back. He’s very forgetful like that.

Why, you ask, would I bother, given his age and present state of mind? The reason is this: My faith calls me to forgive those who hurt me, even when it’s difficult. So I decided to let everything go. Does he remember what he did to me? Probably not. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that God has reached into my soul and urged me to restore a broken relationship in His name, and I obeyed His prompting.

I didn’t do anything wrong to make my dad’s and my relationship go sour. After all, I was only a small child when the abuse started. However, as an adult, I have not reached out to seek healing in our relationship. I forgave him long ago, yes, but I never let on to my dad that I had done so, so our relationship never blossomed.

I am thankful to God that He has nurtured and held me these last several weeks and that he spoke to me so clearly through the words of my minister last Saturday. Hear it yourself by going to http://middletownchristian.org/audio.asp, pressing the Month radio button, selecting November 2007 from the dropdown list, and then selecting David Emery – [November 25,2007]  Kingdom Now! – Radical Change. You won’t regret it!

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My father is suffering from dementia, but he doesn’t know it yet. He’s discussed his declining memory with his doctor, and he’s certainly demonstrated it with all of his children. Some people begin to get beligerant in their old age, effectively shunning those who may have been able to help them. My father isn’t like that. He’s been beligerant his whole life, so we’re used to it. None of us wants to take care of him, but we all recognize that we must. And so we do.

After suffering a childhood of emotional and borderline-sexual abuse by my father, I have never been alone with him. Never. And yet somehow, apparently without thinking, I offered to take him to a psychiatrist to see about getting him on an antidepressant or mood stabilizer, depending on what the doctor says. I’m the logical person to take on this job, since I have manic-depression and have experience dealing with the psychiatric healthcare system. So I suggested that he go, and I volunteered to be the person to take him. It wasn’t until my brother told me how shocked my sister was at my offer that it occurred to me: I have to be alone with him–and in a car at that.

A couple of things have run through my mind when I’ve thought about how I’ll handle the car ride. Shamefully, I admit that I thought about bringing my daughter with me, thinking just maybe she’d inhibit him from yelling at me, patting my thigh, trying to kiss me on the lips, and, well, you get the picture. A friend suggested I load up the front seat with junk, and tell him to just hitch a ride in the back. Neither of these options is acceptable to me. One isn’t fair to my daughter–she doesn’t need to be a buffer between my father and me; the other isn’t fair to my father–he isn’t a cab passenger.

Why the heck I even care about what is fair to my father is this: I am modeling caring behavior for my daughter. She’ll see that despite my feelings about my father (it’s obvious to her we’re not close), I can still reach out to him and help protect him from himself and, ultimately, the nursing staff who will one day care for him.  Going on a psychotropic drug may help him find some joy in his life. It may also take the edge off his beligerance and, therefore, make him a better patient–which translates to a better-cared-for patient.

Sappy, but it reminds me of Jesus telling his followers to “turn the other cheek” when someone wrongs them. I just hope my father doesn’t slap the other one as well.

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