A parent's dementia and attendant short-term memory loss can be heartbreaking. It is common for children to have feelings of loss and grief as they see their family life changed by Alzheimer's. Children may go through the grieving process while their parent is alive - a process that may be hard to describe to those who have not encountered it themselves.
I'm not an expert on Alzheimer's, dementia or grief. That said, I've accumulated a good deal of experience over the course of my career as a trust litigation attorney in watching how children interact with a parent suffering increasing cognitive impairment. So here are some of my thoughts.
Frustration is natural. While natural it is of little help to angrily remind a parent "Mom, I've told you that before!" Reminders to people who can't recall a minute old conversation get the same treatment as the conversation - they're instantly forgotten.
When I see these parent-child interactions with clients or prospective clients I strongly urge the child or caregiver to seek out information on Alzheimer's or dementia. There are outstanding organizations that provide this information and help for caregivers and families of patients.
Dealing with the cognitive decline of a parent is ancient. In the Book of Sirach, children are advised:
"My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him; revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten, firmly planted against the debt of your sins - a house raised in justice to you."
At Hackard Law we represent people with trust, estate, power of attorney and elder financial abuse issues in most of California's major urban areas - including Sacramento, San Francisco, Alameda, Los Angeles and San Diego. We know that the issues that we address can be difficult for children and their parents. We work to have a listening ear as well as knowledge as to how the law impacts specific family challenges. Call us at 916-313-3030 if you would like to talk about how we may help you.