While my dad handed over his car keys to my sister following their doctor’s recommendation they not drive, it was a matter of hours before my parents worked to unravel any real progress. Our mom and dad have had years to manage through their issues together and the teamwork kicks in to push us away when help is offered.
During her visit, my sister was staying with my parents at their retirement community. They said their good-nights and retreated to their bedrooms. My sister was in her room when my mom barges in claiming they need to drive back to their townhouse right now. She tells my sister they had not picked up their mail from today and they had not checked their answering machine for messages. My sister points out that it’s a Friday night and they would be going to the townhouse in the morning anyway, so that could wait until then. Mom seems to accept this and retreats. She returns within a few minutes with a new reason: Dad forgot one of his medications – this is an emergency.
My sister is a little dumbfounded. She takes my mom at her word when she says they are just going to drive there, get the medicine and then come back to the retirement community. My sister drives them there and waits in the car for 10 minutes. Then my mom returns to the car and instead of getting in announces that they aren’t returning to their retirement home tonight.
My sister left everything at the other home – medicine, toothbrush, PJs. It seems like a cruel joke.
She calls me and is angry. She feels like she just got punked, which she did. My parents have done these cruel little exercises to me often. I figured it was their subconscious protection trying to push us away by punishing us for trying to help them.
I remind her they have head injuries and don’t really recognize or understand how awful their behavior has become.
This trip I get to share with her the art of disappearing – it’s how I cope when I get too worn down by my parents’ behavior. I tell her the guest room is ready for her. I have PJs and a toothbrush waiting, come on over.
The silver lining was that we got to spend the rest of the weekend with my sister. Appreciated.
2 thoughts on “Pushing Us Away”
Stay strong… your parents ‘hurtful’ behaviour is not coming from the parents who loved and protected you, but is caused from the changes brought on by their dementias. Sadly, they probably simply cannot be rationale anymore because of the changes to their brains, no different for example, than if they had a stroke, and so anything you try to do to ‘help’ they might just see as undermining them and their ‘old’ lifestyle, which they are fighting desperately to hold onto. It is devastating for them too – it is for me as I can see this slowly happening to me, and I am terrified of how I will ‘hurt’ my husband and children when I progress. Love is the only way we feel we will manage it when it does. Different though for siblings, as we always want our parents to be our parents, and dementia means our parents become our children. Suffering for everyone, the awful tragedy of dementia.