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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

When Change Is Tough

Mid-November 2014 will be an unforgettable period in the next few years to come. Moving house against my will and dealing with an aging parent whose mental and physical capacities are rapidly deteriorating brought much distress at a time when my husband was overseas.

The sudden changes hurled at me was overwhelming. In a matter of days, I became emotionally and physically stressed. The tears, the fears and the intense anger as I fought to come to terms with what is gone and accept what has become turned my own world almost upside down during that short period.

First, I resisted the idea of letting go. I badly wanted to stay put but I had no choice. I felt sad leaving my old flat which I had lived in for at least 11 years. I have always loved the sea view and the huge, spacious corridor which had become our private space. I hated the idea of moving down as the corridor was much smaller and all I could see was the green canopy. Gone would be the days when I could just gaze out the window and admire the breathtaking views of the sea. For days, I just felt sad and melancholic.

Second, his hallucinations, weird suspicions, unfounded accusations and disturbing behaviour- I should've pieced them into a picture but till that particular evening, I had ignored those warning signs. Instead, I continued to berate and antagonise a sick, aging dad who seriously required medical help. I soon found myself feeling more nervous and anxious whenever evening came because of his changed behaviour and thoughts. My tension rose along with my rising temper till I almost hit breaking point.

I still remember that particular Sunday when only my son was with me. He hadn't been clinically diagnosed yet and I was just beginning to vaguely realise my dad's condition. I tried to avoid him lest we clashed again. But there was no escaping.

The moment I stepped into the flat, I saw it. Clothes on the floor and he was rearranging them in the most disturbing manner. It didn't make any sense to me. I froze. There wasn't anyone else except my son, myself and a sick, old man mixing his clean clothes with his dirty clothes.

"What the hell are you doing?" I roared.

I had started to inhale deeply. My poor son just stared at his grandpa, speechless.

We both had taken a breather in the afternoon so that I could recover from the stress and anxiety of it all but my demons had come back when I returned to the old flat.

That night, I started bleeding. Only two weeks into my cycle and I had bled.

'It isn't fair at all!" I thought angrily. I resolved to do something the next day.

Get Help.

From an unexpected turn of events, instead of putting our old dad in a nursing home far, far away, he is back with me. This time, after the initial argument and misunderstanding, my bro has even agreed to do his part.

Two weeks of hospitalisation, clinical tests, medical counselling and diagnosis had given me some respite. I broke down on the first day when I brought him to the Geriatric Clinic. I was emotionally drained. It was a mixed feeling of knowing that we would get proper help for my dad and I. I felt so tired that day. I expressed my frustrations to the docs and nurses in attendance. They have listened and heard me. My deep gratitude goes out to all those who treated and assisted my dad at TTSH.

Dad has Alzheimer's dementia. He will be on long term medication and he will be put on the wait-list for a dementia nursing home.

"At least a six months' wait." The social counsellor said while he was still warded.

I nodded quietly.

Its been a month since his last discharge. His mood and behaviour is less unpredictable now. More stabilised, I have also learnt to accept the changes. I don't know if he will ever be moved to a nursing home but our current home situation has been positive. I am truly relieved that my helper has willingly accepted the change in her role as well.

Looking back, I saw my weakness and my own vulnerabilities. Its a learning journey and a lesson I cannot avoid.