My father-in-law’s dementia has progressed a lot faster than anyone could have anticipated. It has gone about five steps ahead of where it should have at this point.
I believe it is a coping mechanism. I believe that he does not want to deal with the fact that his wife is dying and so he is not dealing with it. I believe also that he is very upset that all the attention is going to her and not to him.
This is a way of drawing attention to himself. This is a way of making other people notice him and take care of him. It is quite embarrassing that this adult man is reverting to childlike behaviors.
He has always been a needy, vain, controlling person. There is one “family” picture in the house – all the other pictures of him are with famous people. He’s always talking about all the famous people he has met. He never talks about family gatherings or vacations. He always has to have the latest, best things. He bullied his wife and then his sons for years.
Outwardly, he is an old man. Inwardly, he is a little boy, always seeking approval through being associated with other people. He cannot stand on his own.
He is in a nursing home and he says he wants to go home. But he doesn’t understand or want to understand that no one is there to take care of him. The person who would take care of him is herself needing to be taken care of. She has nurtured him and put up with his tantrums and rages his whole life, it seems. But now, because of her terminal cancer, she is the one who has to be taken care of. She is the one who has a home health nurse and a hospice nurse coming to the house.
While his needs need to be acknowledged, ultimately he has to learn that it isn’t all about him. There’s some middle ground where people say you’re great and you know you are. There some place in your head where you don’t have to have other people tell you that you’re awesome. And maybe part of it is not having to think that you’re awesome. Maybe just being average is okay.