When Parents Age... (dillema?)

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Starista, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Nov 20, 2010

    Hey there folks,

    Long story short(ened):

    In late 1996, my father fell very ill. It doctors about 2 months to decide what was wrong with him. In the late autumn months, his personality drastically changed. He began to act with impulsivity and displayed careless/inappropriate/reckless behavior -- both of which were out of character for him.

    Around December he began to complain of serious headaches. My father had never taken a "sick day" from work in his life and had a huge tolerance for pain, so my mother took it very seriously and booked several doctor's visits.

    At this time my older sister was living in California just starting out her life as a young adult (she was 23 y/o) and I was a freshman in college out of state (18 y/o).

    When I came home on Holiday Semester Break, my father was hospitalized and spent 2 weeks in a hospital in our home state of Boston. His behavior was erratic and unusual. He was a "mystery." Finally, late January, he received the diagnosis of a type of "encephalopathy," which basically means a disease or disorder in one's brain.

    When he came home, he was a changed man. As my mama has said countless times "this is not the man I married." My father had episodes where he'd enter a situation with a sense of boasted entitlement - for example, he walked into his work and angrily demanded why his medical leave of absence was delayed, etc.

    Anger and impatience were the hallmark points of his personality from that point on.

    It has been 14 years since he was sick with a baffling illness that has left him a changed man. I am honestly not sure how my mama deals with his mood swings, immaturity, and irrationality.

    Last night I visited with them both and my father was ridiculously upset and something and arguing with him (or trying to get him to see other's points of view) is not an option. It can try your patience for sure. At one point my father said "I'm an old man. This is just how I am."

    It made me so very sad to hear my barely 63 y/o father (about to be a grandpa) talk like that. It's as if he's given up on any chance of getting better.

    As someone who has witnessed and lived through mental illness herself, I feel that he displays all the signs of depression: he sleeps a lot, he does not keep consistent meal times (when he's hungry at 5 PM because he hasn't eaten all day that naturally does not help his mood), he is quick to anger, he has difficulty "backing down," etc.

    I want very much to suggest he speak to a therapist, but he has a large dose of pride (?) where I think he would not want to do that -- even though it has helped me in leaps and bounds.

    I tried to speak w/ my sister about it today. She does not spend as much time with my mom and dad as I do. She maybe sees him and mama 3x a year. That is not a bad thing, just her thing... and I am certainly NOT judging her.

    She did not want to talk about it much... and just said "we need to be patient with him." She did not want to see that this has been going on for almost 15 years and he has done little to nothing to help himself get better. She kept saying that it was "his choice" to not get help, which I suppose it true. But I remember when I was very depressed and how easy it was to have that defeatist attitude like I see in my dad.

    Also -- she does not see his behavior as often as I do, just based on the fact that she's not around him as much (again not a judgement call, just the way it is). Had I said that to her... about not being around him as much as me, she would have immediatly flown on the defense.

    I am sad that I feel like my one sibling has almost "written him off" as to say "it's just how he is..."

    She just didn't want to even DISCUSS it. :(

    It could be so much better if he would at least try to try.

    *deep breath*

    Thanks for listening. Not really looking for an answer here, just support. This is our father and throughout our childhood and teenage years he was absolutely amazing. He was a kind, supportive and loving Dad who never let us want for anything. It breaks my heart beyond repair when I see how he acts now... and how he treats and speaks to the people who love him most: my mom, my sister, and me.
     
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  3. Bella2010

    Bella2010 Habitué

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    Nov 20, 2010

    Starista,

    I am so sorry to hear what you're going through. Seeing the decline of a loved one and feeling powerless is a horrible thing that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

    My g-ma had Alzheimer's for 12 years. It was so sad visiting her and seeing a woman who was nothing like what I remembered. It was really sad during the first few years because she had moments when she was herself, and it was like she knew what was going on. She would look at us sometimes and ask, "Am I going crazy?" It was the worst thing ever, and I get teary even now.

    It's sad that he appears to have given up, especially since the medical field is always advancing, and there might be something new he could try.

    Hugs, hang in there.

    Beth

    P.S.
    Congrats on the upcoming baby! I have a 5 month-old, and he's awesome!
     
  4. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Nov 20, 2010

    My parents were older when they had me. Daddy just turned 73 and Mama is 68. They don't really act their age, but Daddy has diabetes and it's gotten worse. He also has terrible rages, that he never shows us, or me. (My sister has been the cause of a few of those, she's seen them.) I worry about him with that, but I also worry about Mama dealing with it. My oldest niece has just moved in with them. She's 20 and living in their camper. I think she's doing good at keeping them young. There is so much stress in our lives that I just worry where it will all end. (Sorry ex-brother-in-law, and currrent sorry brother-in-law, my sister and her husband, along with my youngest niece live in their pasture. They constantly have to pay their bills and worry if they have heat and food. My sister's house literally could be condemned if anyone from the state came in, it's sickening. She and my oldest niece had a screaming fight and she ran away (ended up at grandparents'). Anyway, there's just a lot of extra drama that I wish they didn't have to fool with. I worry about having to make decisions later on. I know my sister won't be able/willing to do so. I hate the thought of them becoming truly old. So I'll just bury my head in the sand for a while longer.
    I'm sorry things are that way with your dad. I know you weren't looking for specific advice, and I really don't have any. I'll just be keeping all of you in my prayers. :hugs:
     
  5. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Nov 20, 2010

    Star~I'm sorry that you are going through this...

    and sorry for others that have gone/currently going through this. My dad is not as bad, but I can easily see him heading in that direction. He lives by himself in the country and there have been quite a few times where I've had to call the sheriff's office to do a wellness check on him. Come to find out he's taken a little more than what he's supposed to on his meds. He also has tons of dogs outside and a lot of horses that he has to take care of.
     
  6. gigi

    gigi Groupie

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    Nov 20, 2010

    Hugs Starista, and prayers for you and your family.
     
  7. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Nov 20, 2010

    I, too, am so sorry you are going through this time with your parents. It is really hard to see your parents age and change. My mother had dementia for years before my father passed away. When he was alive, he helped her hide her condition. After his death, she got progressively worse. Two things I would suggest: 1) Have his hormone levels checked, as welll as his Vitamin D. 2) Ask for help from Senior Services. If there is something that can make him better, you surely want to take advantage of it.
     
  8. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Nov 21, 2010

    Starista, I'm sorry that you are in way alone in this & your sister isn't more supportive & banding together w/ you. I suppose it's her way of dealing w/ it.

    My dad doesn't have any kind of mental health or brain issues, but he's not the easiest man to get along w/ in general. He's a good father overall & has stuck by my mom & I & I had a great childhood as well, but him & I aren't that close ever since I became an adult, not that we were ever that close, but when we're kids, we don't often see how our parents really are. Some of your dad's characteristics are like my dad's, but that's how my dad's always been. He gets angry quick, is moody, impatient, has a certain amount of pride where he doesn't like going to doctors or admit that he's wrong. My dad's older, so he's slightly calmer than the way he used to be.

    My parents have been married now for 37 yrs & I'm their only child. I honestly don't know how my mom stayed w/ him at times, but my dad's pros definitely outweigh his cons: He's not a drinker, smoker, gambler, womanizer, abuser, & those are the biggies.

    Hopefully, you & your mom are close & the two of you can lean on each other & perhaps grow even closer as she deals w/ your dad's issues. Just remember, that no one is to blame for how your dad is. It's the way he is now & all you can do is make the best of it. :)
     
  9. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Nov 21, 2010

    Update...

    Well, I called my Mama last night to talk about ways I could help, or what I could do -- I even wondered if she'd be opento family therapy, etc.

    For about 10 minutes I just blabbed on an on about how sad I am when Dad talks to her and me the way he does.

    After I finally came up for air she said, "I need to tell you something. We decided to wait to tell you this until after Liam was born, but I think you need to know. In July, Dad was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. It's slow progressing, which is good, but we didn't want to tell you since you were in the very early stages of your pregnancy and we know stress can cause miscarriage/complications. This type of leukemia is not genetic, of course, or we would have told you as soon as we knew. When we sat down with the onocologist and heard the diagnosis, the first thing Dad asked was 'Will I get to see my grandchild?' He is the one who didn't want to tell you because he knows you worry and did not want you to have one more thing to worry about."

    We talked for 30 more minutes as she gave me info about his type of cancer/leukemia and explained that it's why is temper has been shorter than usual and he's been extra fatigued.

    Anyway.. just wanted to update you all. Needless to say, I felt like a moron for being so upset with him, but since I didn't know... I didn't know.
     
  10. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Nov 21, 2010

    I'm so sorry to hear that, Starista. You are all definitely in my prayers.
     
  11. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Nov 21, 2010

    I am so sorry, Starista! :hugs:
     
  12. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Nov 21, 2010

    Look at the bright side. At least they know what it is. They caught it early and that is why he has been irritable. Leukemia is an easy one. I knew a kid in HS who survived leukemia, he needed only like a year of treatment
     
  13. Kangaroo22

    Kangaroo22 Virtuoso

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    Nov 21, 2010

    I'm sorry, Starista.
     
  14. Bella2010

    Bella2010 Habitué

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    Nov 21, 2010

    I'm so sorry you guys are going through this. :(

    Beth
     

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