We don’t like to talk, let alone think about it. It is setting your life aside to care for someone else because it is what you need to do. What happens to those caught in the crush to care for another?
Generally our culture discusses caretaking in broad terms. I do it myself. The legal, medical, financial, governmental, and physical tasks cannot be simply explained. I’m exhausted by the decisions. That is why I just don’t talk about it. I want to think about something else for a change.
After a grueling day on Friday, I was reading Max Lucado’s book Mocha with Max. On pages 47-48 Max describes God’s Perfect Love and how he loves us with all our flaws. He knows we are imperfect. At the end of the passage Max wrote: “With perfect knowledge of your imperfect life. God signed on.” Aha! The light bulb moment! The verse he references is I John 4:18:
“1There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.”
This was disturbing and comforting all at the same time. I had to sort it out. On Friday we had an appointment with Dad’s attorney. In August, we had tried to get the irrevocable trust set up for my dad and failed. The financial institution refused to honor my power of attorney to make the arrangements. Then life got in the way. Other priorities had to be handled.
On Friday we learned the VA is changing their rules for my dad’s aid and attendance application. This means we have to get the irrevocable trust in place and funded by Wednesday! Yes that’s right in six days, actually four working days if I count Friday!
We were able to get the financial managers on the phone with our attorney. Our attorney valiantly fought the legal fight to defend my right as power of attorney to get this set up. After three hours we still won’t have an answer from the corporate attorneys until Monday. It would be so much easier if the current managers could just transfer the funds to the irrevocable trust in-house on Monday morning. There is a good chance I will be moving everything to a Florida bank on Monday and praying all the transfers go through by Wednesday.
By the end of the meeting, my head was filled with so much legalese I struggled to settle my brain at dinner. I told my husband “The best part of these legal meetings is a dinner date with you.” He gave me a kiss for that statement. I thought, wow a kiss too!
This morning I woke to a message that my father became violent and the ALF sent him to the VA emergency room. I never heard the phone in my room ring at 1:38 a.m. The sound was on but I was too tired to hear it. I called back but the staff could only tell me what I already knew. No word yet on how he is doing. That is good news. It means he’s behaving.
Here’s the dilemma do I go down and check on him? If I don’t am I bad daughter? If I do does that mean I’m rewarding his bad behavior? The books and articles I’ve read don’t mention what to do with a violent dementia patient. They allude to “child-like behavior” and “the core personality shows itself more strongly.” In other words, in dementia the inhibitions are gone. The patient drops their facades. For example, a person who is sweet on the inside will become a childlike sweet-natured elder.
Someone like my father who hid his biting remarks and hard-hearted thoughts can become a bully and lash out with statements, or like last night, start overturning tables and throwing chairs. The advice lacks how a caretaker handles the situation.
My inner child wants to run to daddy and make it all better with a little love. My cynical adult has been verbally battered enough to know better. My parent side doesn’t want to reward a bully parent.
Where does this leave the caregiver? In fear, everything I just described is fear.
- We are afraid the VA deny the application.
- The financial institution is afraid we might sue for damages.
- I’m afraid my father will run out of money.
- I’m afraid of the ugliness of my dad. I am tired of taking the verbal punches.
- I’m afraid the medical decisions I make will hurt my father.
- I’m afraid my health will fail and my father will have no one.
- I’m afraid the ALF will kick my dad out of the facility. Just where does a violent dementia patient go? I have no idea.
So the scripture says: “one who fears is not yet perfect in love.” I’m not perfect in love yet. I have to trust in God’s Perfect Love. Max Lucado statement returns to my mind; “With perfect knowledge of your imperfect life, God signed on.”
So who cares for the caretaker? God does. That is hope! He signed on for the duration. With all my mistakes and flaws, he signed on to walk with me. He tells me to pray2, ask3, be still4, and sit in his presence5. Today I find peace replacing fear in my soul.
Know that I am God4”
May the Peace of God drive out your fear also,
11John 4:18 NABRE
21 Thessalonians 5:17: “pray without ceasing,” NKJV
3Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you;…” NKJV
4Psalm 46:10 NKJV
5Luke 10:40-42: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled…” NKJV MillyReally: Progress