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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Living With Dad, 10

I wonder how long it takes before I realize that asking Dad to make simple decisions is just wrong?  I really try to allow him to make as many decisions as he wants to.  He has preferences.  I eat my dinner in several bowls, Dad likes his food all in one large plate.  I like to eat dinner watching TV,  he likes to eat at a "proper table".  So I always try to ask him what he whats.

It never occurred to me that he doesn't WANT to (or really can't) make decisions.  I thought I was being considerate; I was making things hard for him.

He doesn't want to make decisions, and I have had a hard time grasping that.  I thought "deciding" small things for himself would be the last thing he would give up.  I was wrong...

Today, I was making the lunch sandwiches and Dad asked if he could help.  Of course I said "yes"!  Anything to make him feel useful (and, yes, I recognize a patronization about that).  But, for almost 2 months, we have had sandwiches for lunch on medium size plates.  One half a sandwich, with some pickle, carrot sticks, pickle, etc.  So Dad decided to get out the plates.  Coffee saucers...  Then said "How will we fit the potato chips on this"?  I said they wouldn't fit, so he brought out bowls.  I mentioned that he likes plates for his sandwich.

I should have shut up.  He got upset and said "I don't know what to use, I'll use whatever you tell me to use"!!!

He was right.  He is depending on me now to make even simple decisions for him.  And I didn't quite realize to what degree he was expecting/needing that.

He's my Dad.  I want him to make decisions for himself even if they are very minor decisions.  I guess I had in mind that it was GOOD for him to make some decisions.  Thinking back over the past few weeks, I realize he doesn't WANT me to ask him whether he wants green beans or broccoli with his dinner.  Even that decision is too challenging.

It's ironic.  I've lived my life making my own decisions, and deliberately NOT trying to influence other peoples' decisions (except in a few ways like politics I'll avoid here).  And now I'm being asked to do just that.

I mean all this just as an example.  I could have used towels in the bathroom, or which shoes to wear.

I guess I have to learn to JUST DO IT around Dad and trust to my judgement...


Mariodacatsmom said...

Oh dear - what a rude awakening for you. I don't remember that about my mother, but now after reading your experience, I guess she went thru the same thing only I didn't recognize it because I wasn't with her every day to pick up on it. you are doing a great job friend.

Katie Isabella said...

Oh Mark...I can imagine how it must be because your blogging about it is a journal of happenings that allows us to share and walk with you the best we are abe.

da bear said...


I have been thru this in an alomst decade long struggle. My advice is simple.

Routine, routine, routine.

Your dad needs to be politely told what is happening and the same things need to happen over and over for him to feel secure.

He is sometimes confused and/or lost, and the routine of life will give him comfort, lower his stress, and make life easier for you.

Whev he desires to help, give him explicit intructions.

Get the green plates, i would suggest going to paper plates for his meals and when he akses, say "yes, the paper plates are 0n the second shelf."

Beleive, me I know how hard it is to watch, but he will be happier if he doesn't have to ask for help, but the help is givne as part of the acceptance of his offer to assist.

da bear

Shaggy and Scout said...

You're just trying to include him in family life in regards to what are "little things" to most of us, such as choosing plates and a veggie for dinner. Choices give us autonomy in life and the sense that our choice matters. That's what families do. You are a loving son in the midst of very difficult circumstances, and circumstances that seem to get even more difficult every time you so much as turn around.
Now it seems like a choice between even two items is too much.
I've been thinking of you since yesterday when I first read this post not knowing what to say. All I can do is offer support for you as you try to muddle through this with him. Please know that even if I can't offer concrete suggestions, I am listening to you through this blog.
I attend daily mass Mon - Thurs in addition to Sundays and during the weekdays we are asked to offer our own petitions out loud. I frequently say "for our elderly and their caregivers" with my mother in mind, but now I will have you in mind as well. Even if you're not a praying or religious man know that I am holding you up in prayer and in my thoughts. (I hope that doesn't scare you away!)
Love to all of you.....Lynne

The Cat From Hell said...

It has been awhile since I came to the Cave of the Bear. Since Nellie's Daddy had a couple of strokes in December, just keeping up with everyday stuff has been difficult and visiting all the blogs, well, that does not happen as often as I would like. Reading about you and your Dad, makes me realize how lucky I am that Nellie's Daddy is more like an 8 year old. You are doing a wonderful job! Keep on writing, it helps! And the temperature thing - I agree! Why does it have to be so HOT!!!
Nellie's Mommy