So what?

After seeing the psychologist, we have some benchmarks and some insight into my dad’s mental health, but there is no conclusive evidence for any diagnosis. It’s confirmed that he has no short-term memory. The doctor made several recommendations, none of which my dad/parents will follow. One was that they should simplify their lives and move into their retirement home full-time.

There were no early indicators for an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Knowing that my parents won’t consider any of the psychologists recommendations has set me back mentally. When they asked for help before, I’d jump at the chance. Now I wonder if I’m just enabling them to continue a life that might not be the best option for them.

This week they asked me to stop by their townhouse to help with the bills. However, when I show up and start asking questions, they say things I know not to be true. When my mom tells me they don’t have the credit card bill because the bank doesn’t mail it to their house, and I disagree, the battle begins. Last month we visited the bank to confirm they were getting mailed statements.

My mom lords over the checkbook so this disagreement is with her. My dad tries to squelch the battle he sees brewing and asks, “So what?”

I’ve run through every emotion trying to answer that question.  I fall back on the knowledge that the parents that raised me would never had said “so what” when it comes to paying bills.  If they don’t care anymore, why should I? Resigned.

4 thoughts on “So what?

  1. I truly feel for you because you are coming to a critical juncture in your relationship with your parents. You have the hard job of balancing what you know needs to be done to keep their day-to-day lives functioning versus threatening your relationship with them by stepping in over their objections.

    There will come a time when you must decide that it is more important to keep them safe than happy. Unfortunately there is no magic method to determine when this moment comes because every family’s experiences and journey is different.

    The one thing I wish someone had told me is that throughout it all, the real balancing act for the caregiver is to find way to keep them safe and functioning without trampling their pride and dignity, which is really what they are fighting to preserve.

  2. I struggle with many of the same issues, and I ask myself if i am helping or “enabling” my parents to not care or if they are aware enough to see me as a safety net. I think that is wishful thinking and they both have lost the ability to keep almost any routine activity under control. They resort to making things up and trying to reason thru simple issues, but they can no longer make sense of their daily lives, i.e. bills, appointments, dinner meetings, dealing with mail, cleaning, or calling for a repair service. My mom tries, but my dad, is stuck in neutral, and just really doesn’t seem to care. It is like he’s totally checked out and now seems to think he’s earned the right to do nothing!

    If I could put percentages on my parents ability to grasp their daily chores and keeping a schedule, i would say that 50% is autopilot (not so unusual), 30% is forgotten, 10% may be on a daily planner, and 10% is scary for them to realize they don’t know where they are driving, or where they are supposed to be if anywhere, and/or with whom. So, like any brain would do, it protects itself, and tries to make sense of the things it still knows fit into some sort of meaning or perhaps a made-up story. Thus the conversations are getting stranger all the time.

    Any way you look at it, my parents have mostly slipped away, and now they are two people who need help, but won’t accept it without an argument or some defensive behaviors because they just don’t know what is happening (or why) in most scenarios/instances.

    It makes me frustrated, angry at times, and mostly sad.


  3. Dear e. – I appreciate your feelings and know from where you come.

    Another readers shared “the real balancing act for the caregiver is to find way to keep them safe and functioning without trampling their pride and dignity.”

    I’m trying to find the place where I can manage to better understand how they may be feeling, even when anger and ambivalence are the only emotions I receive back from my parents some days.
    – Kay

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