After Empathy

I know it’s not Dad’s fault he doesn’t understand things logically anymore and that he gets upset about things that aren’t “real.” I know it doesn’t do any good for me to explain things to him over and over again; in his “dementia reality,” my explanations are meaningless.

Books emphasize that although people with dementia have a distorted understanding of reality, their feelings are real, and those feelings need to be acknowledged and respected.

So, when my dad bitterly accuses me of “paying-off” the doctors and attorneys so that I can keep him locked up and steal his money, I want to argue with him – to defend myself. Instead, I tell him that if I were in his place, I’d be bitter too.

While I try to assure him that I am only managing his money for him, I agree that, in a way, his life has been stolen from him, and he has a right to be angry.

I apologize for not being able to do what he wants me to do – which is to give him back his old life.

But how do I respect my dad’s feelings and still deal with the realities of banks, brokers, insurance agents and the like? That’s where the books fall short on advice: What to do after acknowledging the feelings.

Dad wants to manage his finances himself, but he can’t. Yes, he can still add and subtract quite well, but he gets confused over simple concepts then angrily blames everyone else for his errors/misunderstandings. I’ve suggested that we go over the bills together, but – to put it nicely – he rejected the idea.

Although I respect my dad’s feelings, I can’t respect his demands to relinquish my position as his agent and trustee. There just doesn’t seem to be an adequate replacement for reason and logic when it comes to making financial decisions.



Dad is helping me learn to walk. 1963

Dad is helping me learn to walk. 1963



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