Judgment Comes with the Job

Here is what I know about having a loved-one with dementia. It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating. It’s heartbreaking and humbling.

My dad believes I’ve been tricked into going along with an evil plot to steal his independence and his money. I try to take comfort in the fact that he thinks I’m just stupid and easily manipulated – not deliberately deceitful and greedy – but somehow, that doesn’t make me feel any better.

On top of that, because Dad is still able to hold it together and appear “normal” for short periods of time, there are people (people who aren’t around him enough to see the full picture) who take his delusional rantings as fact, then busy themselves condemning me for imaginary “crimes.” Among other things, I’ve been accused of “keeping him locked up like an animal”  – as if I wouldn’t have him out of the secured community in a heartbeat if it were reasonable and safe to do so!

As frustrating as it is, I’m glad these @#!%&* people don’t know what they’re talking about . . . It means they haven’t had to suffer through a similar situation. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I’m just so fed up with trying to explain and justify myself! Frankly, I could really use some encouragement right now.

Instead, I guess I have to accept that people’s ignorant judgment comes as part of this job. It’s not a job I want, but it’s one God has given me; so until He takes it away, I just have to do the best I can.

Promise to myself: For the rest of my life, when I don’t know all the facts about someone else’s situation, I will keep my mouth shut!

This is the front of the most recent riddle card I've made for my dad.

This is the front of the most recent riddle card I’ve made for my dad.

And here's the inside of the card. Hahaha!

And here’s the inside of the card. Hahaha!


7 responses to “Judgment Comes with the Job

  1. Don’t let the #@*@# people get you down… Let then walk a mile in the shoe’s of someone that has a parent with Dementia. Then they won’t be so apt to point fingers and say hurtful thing. As long as you know in your heart that you have done the best you can do that is all the matters.
    Love Nita

    • Nita, you’ve “been there” . . . Did you experience a lot of hurtful finger-pointing too? I don’t know how much energy and time I should spend trying to “educate” those people. I like to believe their intentions are good and that their harsh words actually comes from a place of fear rather than cruelty . . . But, for heaven’s sake!

  2. Hi Suzy,
    I’m really sorry that you and your family are having to go through this. It must be so difficult. I can only say that you are an incredibly strong person to be able to handle the situation the way that you are and also an amazingly courageous person by seeking advice/support when you need it. And putting yourself first (from the support/encouragement side of things) is so important and necessary to maintaining your strength.

    I read a book called The Four Agreements that might provide some support regarding what others are doing/saying about you and your father. Below is a very brief summary…

    1. Be impeccable with your word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid speaking badly about yourself or gossiping about others. Use the power of your words for establishing truth and love.

    2. Don’t take anything personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you wont be the victim of needless suffering.

    3. Don’t make assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.

    4. Always do your best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to when you are sick (or stressed). Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.

    You are doing an awesome job! Don’t believe anybody, including yourself, that might ever tell you otherwise.

    Take care,

    • Kurt, Why is it that what we know and believe can be so hard to LIVE? The wisdom you shared from The Four Agreements seems like it should be “common sense,” so it’s kind of embarrassing to need to be reminded . . . And reminded again . . . Maybe someday it will stick! (I’ve heard of The Four Agreements but haven’t read it yet. It’s on my reading list now.) Thank you.

      • The reason it is so hard to “live” is so simple, but we can’t see it until we are ready. I’ll give you a hint: you’ve been alive for how long? And you’ve looked at life the “same” way for how long?

        We need to be “reminded” because we’ve conditioned our minds to think and perceive things a certain way FOR YEARS. We’ve reinforced (or had others reinforce) ways of “negativity” day after day for our entire conscious lives.

        Buddhist monks “practice” their meditations every day to reinforce positivity. They’ve done it FOR YEARS. 🙂

        The more you remind yourself of “letting go”, being good to yourself, not judging others or yourself, accepting things as they are, etc., the easier it becomes. The more you recognize those moments when you are using hurtful words and thoughts against yourself and others, the easier it becomes.

        I’ve spent 40 years being an selfish, angry jerk. I’ve spent the past year “reminding” myself that I am a good person, a great father, that I’ve done the best I could, that I need to forgive myself and others for when we weren’t at our best, that I deserve love, and am loved (even when I have no tangible proof of it), and that I am SO lucky to have learned this now (instead of regretting that I didn’t learn it sooner).

        You are love. It’s that simple. It’s all around you. If you look for it, I promise you that you will find it. 🙂

  3. Don ‘t take it personally. Try to ignore his comments and don’t argue with him. Just say you’re sorry and will try to do what you can to help him. When he becomes angry………LEAVE! It won’t make either one of you feel better to stay and argue or to be harangued. When others say bad things about you to your face say, “I’m sorry you think that,” and walk away.

    • Judy, I participate in a dementia support group, and the leader of it always reminds us, “You cannot win an argument with someone who has dementia!” So, yup, I gave up on that tactic quite a while ago! (Although, I must admit, I’m still tempted!)

      As for leaving . . . Usually, I’m able to remain calm (outwardly) even when he’s shouting and shaking his finger at me, but a couple of times I’ve had to stand up and say something like, “Dad, I’m starting to get kind of upset. This isn’t getting us anywhere, so I think it’s time for me to leave. I’ll see you next week.” Then I’d give him a quick hug and turn towards the door . . . Suddenly he’d calm down and start being a little more reasonable again, and we’d be able to resume a decent conversation.

      Because of his illness, I don’t see his behavior as an attack on me; it’s more like a toddler testing the limits to see how far he can push Mommy. And I suspect that, somewhere in there, is also a test to see if I still love him even though he’s not able to do all the things he used to do.

      One thing’s for sure: I’ve developed a thicker skin this past year! There’s still a “people pleaser” in me that needs to work a little more on setting boundaries though. I appreciate your encouragement.

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