Tuesday, 19 July 2011

My father's brother

is now in a nursing home. It is some distance out of the city but close to where he once lived.
He hates being there. I can understand this but there really is no choice. He should really have been there long before this.
He has been declared "blind" and, unless in bright daylight, he cannot tell the difference between night and day. He has mature onset diabetes and heart failure. He has had a number of trans-ischaemic attacks (small "strokes") which have damaged the frontal lobes of his brain. Several times recently he has become confused as to where he is or what he is doing. I suspect he is in the early stages of Alzheimer's but he has never been a particularly verbal or talkative person so it is more difficult to observe than it would be in some people.
My father is three years older and, at present, mentally acute. He still reads philosophy, theology, psychology, gardening, engineering and other non-fiction. He enjoys a good murder mysteryand recently finished a biography of Charles Darwin. He will probably spend part of the day in his workshop where he is currently mending an antique chair for our friend Polly. He may be 88 but he still likes to do things for other people. My uncle was never particularly interested in doing that.
Yesterday one of their cousins 'phoned. He was going to be travelling past the nursing home and wanted to know what the situation was before calling in. I explained. He has promised to call in despite an uncertain reception. Then he said,
"You know I think the real problem has been that your father has always looked out for other people and your uncle has tended to look out for himself."
I thought about that during the day. It is true. My father is typical of his extended family. They all had the example of my great-grandmother. She had a large family (11) and she also cared for the community in which she lived. She was a practical sort of social-worker in the days before the profession existed. People turned to her for advice and help. She expected her children to provide similar assistance - and they did. The next generation (my father's) also had the example and carried on the tradition. The tradition has carried on through my generation and the next. The next generation already talks of making sure their children care for others.
My uncle is an exception to this. He is not a happy man. I do not think he has ever been a really happy man. The opportunities were there for him but he never took advantage of them.
A friend of mine called in yesterday. Her request will involve a little work for me but I actually felt relief rather than irritation at being asked. I have come to the conclusion that it may actually be easier to look out for other people.


Sheep Rustler said...

Multiple TIAs can lead to , I think it's called Multi Infarct Dementia. My FIL had it. It's like Alzheimers outwardly, but inside it is worse because they known what is happening. Poor bloke.

catdownunder said...

Yes, tried telling his doctor this but he is not willing to listen of course - after all I do not have any medical training!

Anonymous said...

Yes Sheep Rustler (sorry, don't know your name). Cat has been saying this for a long time but the medical profession do not seem to recognise it. My father was the same.