Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Happens at Night

Actually, I don’t really know what happens at night with my mom because their bedroom is on the first floor and we are on the second. But I know that sometimes when I am watching TV late at night and they are sleeping, I hear my mom screaming in terror at something she sees but is not real.

I know from Mom and Dad that Mom has hallucinations which are much more prominent at night than during the day. Sometimes they are scary, sometimes they are not. But much of the time, my Dad is awake and trying to talk to her so she calms down. Mom does not usually remember these “conversations” and she remains half asleep. Hallucinations are common in people both with dementia and Parkinson’s.

Often the hallucinations are not so much of a problem, Dad and Mom even joke about how “busy” she is at night. I noticed it is a problem today though because today Dad is in what we call a “funk” in our family. You know, those days when you are in a grumpy mood and you don’t really know why. Well, I guess Dad was up almost all night talking to Mom and her “friends” and he is exhausted today. No one functions well when you are that tired.

I didn’t realize until today how much I depend on Dad. I guess I have this idea that as long as he is happy, everything will be ok. I think that I get scared when Dad has a hard time because he is someone who has taken care of me. Even if he was not medically stable at times, he has usually been emotionally rational and strong. So when he is having a bit of a hard time, I worry that something must really be wrong. I am living in the house I grew up in, where as I got older, no matter what happened, Dad remained level-headed and rational. Dad took care of me, and I sometimes I forget I am not just his child anymore.

I think that is one of the things which can be hard about moving back in with your parents when you are older, especially if it is the house you grew up in. You have to re-define your relationship as more than only parent and child. We are now both adults and I can care for Dad, just as he cared and cares for me. I think I need to remember that my Dad is not indestructible. Hopefully I can help Dad, as he has cared for me, when he needs it.


Rev. Katie

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