Monday, June 16, 2008

A day of reckoning

Ben meets every three months with the team of caregivers at the Alzheimer's facility where his mother G. has been living for the past year (the saga began here). Like many of the residents, she believed when she arrived that she was just just "trying the place out" and would be going home soon. Somewhat less typically, she persists in this belief after a full year, along with her refusal to acknowledge that anything serious is wrong with her memory or that she cannot live alone safely. The care team didn't try to dismantle this fantasy at first, but now they've said it's time to make her face reality because her belief that she's going home soon is interfering with their attempts to help her. So... Ben is on his way there now to have a meeting with G., the care team and even G.'s former therapist from New Jersey, to tell her unequivocally that she is not going home and that her house is being sold. Ben has been dreading this for months because she has said on more than one occasion that it will kill her if her house is sold, so he is understandably frightened of the depth of her anger and despair in reaction to this news. He expects that she will accuse him of betraying her, as she's been betrayed by others in her past. Of course he knows on an intellectual level that he is doing what's best for her, the professionals all agree, etc. But still it's very hard. I made a remark he found useful when we talked earlier today: to think of this "intervention" as being like the times he's had to use a needle to tease a splinter out of Sarah's foot. He's as gentle as he can be, but it still hurts her, and he hates that, but he knows it has to be done. The only difference is that by now (age 7), Sarah understands and cooperates because she, too, knows that this short-term pain best for her, but G. does not have that capacity, even though her raw intelligence and language skills are intact. A sad scene. Update tomorrow, hopefully...

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