Saturday, February 5, 2011

Caring for ill, abusive parents with dementia

My dear, late father. Feb. 6, 2007.
It is true that while one senior is suing her adult children for support, it is hard to forgive and forget the past. My friend, Carol Bursak, haswritten an excellent article about caring for violent, abusive adult parents, Elders Abusing their Adult Children/Caregivers. Many things happen when our bodies and brains are attacked by dementia, and cancer. What happens, though, when the ill seniors were abusive parents?

There is a lot that must be forgiven in some families. Addictions, abuse, neglect, are only some of the issues adult children faced as youngsters. I personally know people whose lives were made miserable by their parents. Certainly, I've had students whose parent was a drug abuser, she was in a foster home, others living with the other parent as custody was taken away by CAS.

How difficult it is to let go of the past, forgive their trespasses, and answer those 2:00 a.m. phone calls from a desperate parent. Of course, the best solution is counselling. Many seniors face depression, with the onset of illness, loneliness, and isolation, but many who have mental issues, will continue to do so in their later years. These issues will not go away. Anger, rage, irritation, can all be factors that are the side effects of vascular *dementia (lack of blood to the brain cells), as the brain no longer inhibits the social manners to which your parent used to adhere! This may be a parent whose anger and abuse has resulted in PSWs or other support workers being fired, or quitting, this is fairly common.

I think my best advice is to teach them how to treat you. Now. In the present. It is easy to say 'forgive', harder to let go of all that anger, but, as the article says, they are human beings. They made mistakes, based on some parenting styles they understood, or experienced themselves. If we know better, we do better. It is up to the caregiver to do their best.

An aging B.C. mother is suing her adult kids for financial assistance, a recent Vancouver Sun article reports. This is criminal. Someone abandons their child, or children, and then expects them to take care of them. Yes, financially. What are they thinking? I can understand how they might appreciate some emotional support. But money? 

The work of the adult child, of course, is to learn to deal with the past, let it go, and not to permit the circumstances of your past to dominate your present. You must take back your power from your parent to cause ill will, emotional pain, and anger. This is the same way that we can learn to live with death, and dates that might cause us tears. It is only a date on the calendar, and mourning a loved one happens every day. Little by little we must learn to live with the grief of the past in the present. Writing a family one a letter, not mailing it, but expressing yourself carefully and clearly will help us ease this pain.

*Dementia is caused by degeneration in the cerebral cortex including death of brain cells, conditions that impair the vascular or neurologic brain cells.

Anxiety and Depression in Caregivers are Associated with Patient and Caregiver Characteristics in Alzheimer's Disease p. 57
José María García-Alberca, M. D., Ph.D., José Pablo Lara, M. D., Ph.D., Marcelo Luis Berthier, M. D., Ph.D.\"
Results: More than 50% of caregivers have shown high anxiety and depression scores."

IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU! The article is written by SHERI SAMOTIN, MBA.
Forgiveness: How to Move Past Your Parent’s Bad Behavior
How do caregivers who were neglected or abused find it in themselves to forget the past, and care for their elderly family member? These approaches help you move on, let go of anger and forgive.
7 approaches to letting go of the past 

More good reads from Carol:

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