The Other Side of Caregiving

Several months ago, I shared with you Carol Allen’s Reflections of a Non-Expert Care Giver in which Carol discussed how the experience of caring for her mother, who suffered from dementia, enabled Carol to shift her attention from the outer expression of life to its inner reality. For Carol, this was a positive, life affirming experience.

For others, such experience is a struggle of monumental proportions. Such is the case for Sandra Tsing Loh who relates her experiences managing her aging father’s care in the article/book review entitled Daddy Issues in the March, 2012, issue of the Atlantic magazine.

Loh writes: “I rant to myself: He is taking everything! He is taking all the money. He’s taken years of my life (sitting in doctor’s offices, in pharmacies, in waiting rooms). With his horrid, selfish, grotesque behavior, he’s chewed through every shred of my sentimental affection for him. He’s taken the serenity I fought for — and won — in 1,000 hours of therapy centered on my family. In fact, he’s destroyed my belief in “family” as a thing that buoys one up. . . . In short, on top of everything else he has taken from me, he has taken away my entire sense of self, because at age almost-50, it appears that I too have become a squalling baby!!!”

Despite this rant, Loh’s experience, like Carol Allen’s, appears to have enabled Loh to learn something about herself. Quoting the late singer Amy Winehouse, Loh concludes her article thus: “I can no longer think of my dad as my ‘father.’ But I recognize in him something as familiar to me as my self. To the end, stubborn, babyish, life-loving, he doesn’t want to go the rehab, no, no, no.”

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