My brother and I had a long talk the other day about our parents. He has positioned himself to be their power of attorney for finances and I am their power of attorney for personal care. In the past year, it has become evident that we may need to start exercising our roles. I can’t tell you how sad that makes me.
Growing up, my father was larger than life. He was a tall, formidable man with a deep voice but he was for all intents and purposes, a gentle giant.
Over the past year or so he’s become impatient, occasionally verbally aggressive toward my mom and is forgetting things. He was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment last fall but his condition seems to have deteriorated in the last 3 months. He has a much shorter fuse now and asks my mom to repeat things several times a day. He denies feeling depressed but we all think he is. Thankfully his family doctor suggested a trial of a low dose antidepressant and he actually agreed.
He will be having an brain scan soon. I fear it will be normal. Why? Because the thought of watching him continue down the road of dementia is heartbreaking. It would frankly be much easier if he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I don’t think I could bear the day he forgets his grandchildren and then me. I don’t think I can watch him become aggressive and angry and frightened at his memory loss. I see it already happening with my maternal grandmother.
And there’s the kicker: dementia on both sides of my family? What does that mean for my brother and me? Are we destined for the same end?
We talked about all of it. Dad won’t want to go into a nursing home when the time comes. Will I have to have him declared incompetent and take over as POA? If dad moves into a nursing home, mom won’t be able to stay in the condo; will she live with me or my brother or alone in an apartment? How long are we going to have to watch him deteriorate? He would never want to live like that. I certainly wouldn’t.
I had a dream last night which has deeply unsettled me. It was about someone I knew for decades but we had a falling out a few years ago and haven’t spoken since. In this dream we were talking and putting things back together and it felt good. My friend was different. I was different. Our conversation was open, honest, without any egos. In my dream state I felt whole again, not realizing that I had an emptiness to fill.
I woke up early this morning to run with a girlfriend. It was 6:10am and I surprisingly felt quite refreshed and eager to start the day. I could feel the cool morning breeze coming through the window and my world seemed right.
As I searched in the dark for my running clothes, the memories of the dream flooded my consciousness. Suddenly, reality set in and I remembered that nothing had changed. In that moment I realized it had all been a dream. None of it was real.