Father’s Day As a Caregiver: Remembering Dad Before Dementia
This Father’s Day I’ll have fond memories of my dad, as will many caregivers and adult children. The juxtaposition of the past and present can make these memories bittersweet. But remember that, regardless of what has happened to our parents as they age, they remain our parents.
Cognitive changes and physical decline do not take away their legacies as adults. We may have to provide care that many would consider demeaning, but when this care is given out of love, it is never undignified. Part of caregiving with love is keeping in mind that this person is our parent; the person who raised us. Respect and preservation of dignity are their due.
Reconciling the Past and Present When Caregiving: My father developed instant dementia due to a failed brain surgery. The irony was that this surgery was supposed to correct the results of a World War II brain injury and prevent the possibility of dementia.
This abrupt change was devastating to my family and very difficult for us to accept. One day he was my dad. He was growing older and frailer, of course, but he was still Dad. After he came out of surgery, he was a man plagued by paranoia and hallucinations; a man who had no way of differentiating between our reality and the warped version his brain created.
A new aspect of his personality had surfaced after the botched surgery, and we came to call this part of him “Herman.” Sometimes, we could coax Dad away from frightening thoughts by convincing him that Herman was responsible. Mostly we couldn’t, but this technique helped my family and me reconcile the old Dad with the new one. Dad was still present no matter what; he just exhibited some new thoughts and behaviors that were entirely
Remember How Your Aging Parent Used to Be: It is challenging to cope with the ways age, illness, and caregiving alter our relationships, especially those between adult children and their parents. Many refer to it as a role reversal, but this is not a dignified way of framing these changes. So, how do we keep our attitudes straight when we are caring for a parent? We must remember that Dad (and this applies to Mom, too) was and continues to be our parent, no matter what ailments befall him or what caregiving duties we perform for him.
Dwelling on the past is not healthy but allowing it to inform how you think about and interact with your aging parents can help ensure the care you provide is infused with dignity and respect.
How to Preserve a Senior’s Dignity While Caregiving: Use some of the following tips to maintain this balance. Again, these suggestions can be applied to any care recipient you struggle to sustain a relationship with due to physical and/or mental changes…
Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. “For anyone having to walk the last segments of life with a loved one, read this.” …Delores
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