Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Can I Give You My Card?

Taking care of elderly parents is so hard that sometimes you just have to laugh at all the silly things that happen. If you didn’t, you’d spend way too much time crying. My father-in-law recently had eye surgery, so his vision is terrible right now. His hearing aids quit working last week, too, so he is really handicapped. The whole vision/hearing loss issue is a recurrent one for him. We’re somewhat used to his disabilities but others aren’t, so we often laugh and shrug off things that others find embarrassing or odd. Yesterday, at the doctor’s office, dad sat beside a mentally disabled woman who talked to herself. Apparently, he thought she was talking to him and he tried shaking hands and introducing himself. It seems this lady doesn’t like talking to strangers, but dad couldn’t see or hear well enough to figure that out, so he kept talking, and she kept getting agitated. Mom kept telling him to be quiet, but he couldn’t hear her either, so he just kept talking and talking and talking. The poor lady was a little freaked out by the whole thing, and her family was pretty frustrated with dad. Apparently, their threshold for FITAD (funny incidents that accompany disabilities) is much lower than ours because we got a little chuckle out of it. We really did try to be sensitive to her and her family, but it was a tiny bit amusing.

I once read where a lady printed up business cards that explained that her father had Alzheimer’s, and she handed them to restaurant servers and others when she took her dad on outings, in the hopes that people would have more patience with him and she wouldn't have to explain it in front on him. I think that’s a wonderful idea. I’m wondering if I should print up cards that say, “Be patient with us. We’re not laughing because we’re immature. This is hard on the heart, and we’re laughing to keep from crying”.

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