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Behavioral Challenges: Sharing the word of God, part 3

This story is continued from Sharing the word of God, part 2.

The threat of Robert’s arrest constricted my days in a belt of anxiety. And at night, I lay awake contemplating where we might move that would be safer. If we didn’t live near a school would that solve the problem? Should we move out of town to a lot in the country so that Robert wouldn’t encounter anyone anywhere or get into any trouble? If we didn’t move, would Robert be arrested and incarcerated? 

Cast out

My ruminations all sound so fantastical in the retelling, but when you are faced with the diminishment of a loved one, you are largely cast out of society to fend for yourself in whatever way you can. At least it seems that way. We’re supposed to be self-reliant, right? What if we really can’t manage on our own? What if we need help?

I posted Robert’s picture and details of his dementia diagnosis on Next Door. Kind souls who understood what Robert and I were going through stepped up to help. They had experience with dementia in their own families. Lovely neighbors, worried about Robert’s safety, reached out to have me pick him up when he’d stood for too long at the same intersection, seemingly unclear on what to do next. Good friends fanned out in spokes to search for him when the temperature topped 111 degrees and he’d been gone too long.

Life requires resilience

But there were also the whiners, neighbors who were compelled to share that their 16-year-old son was made “uncomfortable” by the book he was given by a doddering old man on the sidewalk in broad daylight. In my opinion, these individuals lacked perspective on the world outside their bubble of correctness.

I just wanted to say to them, “God willing you won’t have to deal with this in your own family, but however you parse your dis-ease today, I can guarantee that life will require a bit more resilience of your son. He’s going to be uncomfortable some of the time. Let him speak for himself. Or better yet, let him learn to let some things go. Help him grow up.”

Don’t get me wrong. I do understand that strange men cannot be left to wander unsupervised on high school campuses. (Had I gotten wind of this breach when my kids were in school, I would have been outraged.) But on a public sidewalk? Really?! I just mourn the fact that we are so cynical and heavy-handed as a culture that we can’t see the innocence of someone who is losing their mind. 

Trouble ahead

Wasn’t there a time when someone who was “not quite right” fit into our society despite their obvious limitations? At the risk of sounding especially shrill, we’d better “buckle up” for an increasingly contentious ride. Baby boomers are aging; the scope of the “dementia problem” will grow. We have not even begun to deal with what this means.

Eventually, I would engage a caregiver who spent time with Robert from 10-2 on workdays. This was an obvious solution, but even so, it took me a long time to come to it. 

Now consider this: I could afford to hire someone to help. Many families cannot

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