Tuesday, June 25, 2013

De Nile.

I was talking to a caregiver today about various things to do with his care-taker, and something interesting came up that really sparked an emotional reaction.  He was talking about the fact that his siblings were having problems accepting that their parent was experiencing signs of dementia.  He was exasperated with their viewpoints, especially since they didn't see this parent very often, so were basing their opinions on very little fact, just the little visits they had had, during which the parent's growing dementia wasn't too obvious.  They were of the opinion that the caregiver was exaggerating the problem for his own motives, or just wasn't reading the situation correctly.  It was obvious they were very deeply in denial.

I felt the familiar impatience I feel whenever I hear about a family member's denial, because usually the problem is so very obvious - and heartbreaking - that I can't understand why they can't see what is clearly in front of their face.  Since I am a caregiver advocate, I am almost always on the side of the caregiver, rising up in irritation on their behalf because it just is so counter-productive and, often, harmful to be in denial.  As I felt this reaction, however, it caused me to reflect on my own experience with Dad, and how I, myself, had floated down De Nial river myself for a good long time.

It has been so long since the beginning of our troubles with Dad, and things are running so smoothly now, that I really forget some of the negative and potentially dangerous ways we ignored what was right in front of our faces.  More precisely, I didn't ignore it, but I completely lacked the physical, emotional, and mental strength and fortitude to address it.  In this way, I am a little different from most of the denial stories I have heard - I knew Dad had dementia and had no problem(relatively speaking) accepting that, but I left stepping in and acting on his behalf for far too long.  I told myself that he was doing fine, that he hadn't burned the house down yet or wandered off and been found by the police - until, of course, he was.  And that was when I knew it was too much, and too late to ignore, and that I had to step in.

Luckily, it wasn't too late, and nothing terrible happened, but it is true that Dad's condition could probably have been helped by receiving proper nutrition, care, and medication a little sooner.  It is also true that he probably lost some money through poor investment choices and inaccurate banking.  In all of these things, I was so, so lucky that it wasn't worse.  That he did not, in fact, hit someone in his car, or burn his house down, or gave away or was scammed out of all of his money - any of which could have easily happened.

As I listen and counsel, I must remind myself why we do what we do, and that it is human nature not to want to see something negative that may impact us in a negative way.  Sometimes it is hard to act, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, and I need to think back to the time when it was hard for me and remember why.  I need to remember to see the whole picture, including the parts I don't necessarily want to, and use that to help whoever I can.

No comments:

Post a Comment