The 2nd phase of my caregiving came when my father-in-law was barred from driving after both he and his wife were diagnosed with dementia. While he was barely under the line that separates so-called normal cognitive functioning from inadequate cognitive functioning, he was still functioning well enough to continue as his wife’s main caregiver. But now with me being delegated power of attorney by Jane, I was attending all medical and financial meetings with either or both of them.

He naturally was tremendously offended and deeply ashamed of his dementia diagnosis which included “might be Alzheimer’s”, and even though he had worked for years in psychiatric institutions he was traumatized by this unfair diagnosis of a psychiatrist who was “out to get him”.

So, in my second phase, which started only a couple of months after they moved into the Waterside, I was constantly having to handle his anger and denial, couched in threats to move back to Kingston, as the house was sitting empty on the market. He was upset at spending so much money on the Waterside, still in denial about why they left Kingston, and taken to paranoid suspicions of what I was up to in manipulating and controlling everything.

We weathered all these, and continued to keep them safe, helping them adjust to a very pleasant life in The Waterside. But then he had a couple of spells of a 24-hour flu, which resulted in his wife panicking because he couldn’t do anything except lie in bed. We realized that they were only one health emergency away from being separated and ending up in different long-term care institutions, so we decided that we again had to take action.

We moved out of our newlywed country escape love nest into downtown Pakenham, right on the main street which is the highway that connects the little towns North and South of us. Why, you might ask would we do something like that? Well my in-laws really were no longer able to manage on their own and so we convinced them to come live with us, and downtown was where they wanted to be. They walk to the General Store and to the local diner, both of which they love.

Goodbye love nest: hello caring for my in-laws.