Maribeth Wilder Doerr

Shades of Healing ~ Creating a Wholehearted Life

Giving Google a Sabbatical

on August 25, 2011

I’m sure you all know how googling health situations can scare the hell out of you with an overload of information. You always find the worst case scenario rather than the good news or the best case scenarios. I’ve come across this when I’ve tried to find information on dementia and elder care. I do like having the facts and being prepared but yowzaa! Everything I found made me feel helpless; seriously, I found absolutely nothing hopeful or positive. Okay, so it’s hard to find the good in dementia, and I didn’t want sugarcoated information but surely I won’t become as demented as my dad because I chose to bring him into my home when my mother died instead of pushing him into a nursing home. He’s not close to needed a nursing home anyway – perhaps assisted living, but not the drooling, urine smelling hospital wards of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. My husband and I won’t get divorced over this and I will retain some autonomy. I haven’t figured out quite how yet but we’ve only been doing this for a few weeks. According to Google, we’re all doomed!

I imagine a few who have traveled this road before me are thinking I’m just another Pollyanna but make no mistake – I have no delusions that my life with Dad is going to be a piece of cake. I’ve already learned otherwise. He’s 87 and been catered to his entire life by his parents and then his wife of almost 65 years. My mom waited on him their entire marriage and I can honestly say that she grew to resent it in her last five years. She rarely said no to him and when she did, it was with extreme anger followed by the silent treatment for days. Now with early dementia, his logic escapes him in the late afternoon so it’s pointless to try to reason with him (something Mom couldn’t stop doing). Yes, it gets irritating answering the same questions over and over . . . of having to flip through the three local news channels between 5-7pm so he can record the high and low temperatures from each channel twice even though the numbers tend to be the same, . . . etc, but I also feel it’s important not to sweat the small stuff and those things are really small potatoes.

It seems unfair at Dad’s age to drastically change his routine so we’ve tried to be accommodating with a schedule. But I own my own business and as the current family breadwinner, I have to work. I can’t sit with him all day and entertain him. I CAN’T BE MOM. Most days I feel like a horrible daughter for being resentful of this enormous change in my daily routine, of having another person to care for who is so needy. My boys are young adults now and it was finally my time to create a schedule around ME. Boo hoo Mari!

The truth is, I never really knew my dad very well since he worked seven days a week when I was a kid and left the parenting to my mom. Now, with his memory issues, I’ll never really get to know the real him. This person who has moved in with us is practically a stranger. I hate to admit it but I’m not totally comfortable yet in his presence and when he makes his snide comments (something he has always done), I’m back to feeling like that little girl that couldn’t do anything right. My stomach flip flops and I feel sick. Something inside me wants to sit and hug that poor little girl and tell her she’s okay. Then my reverie is interrupted by Dad asking me if he can take a nap, and I’m instantly tossed into parent mode, leaving that little girl behind. It’s enough to give me whiplash!

So no delusions here but no worse case scenario playing either. We will get through this and we ARE okay. For now, I’m going to stay away from Google and focus on settling in. Lots of changes are traumatizing to elderly people, especially those with dementia. We all just need time to get acquainted with our new lives, a life without Mom and life as a family of five. Things do seem to get a little better every day and that’s enough for now. ♥


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