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Can we help dad come to terms with ageing?

Dear Dr Nekia, I am writing you more so for my mom than for myself. You see, my dad is in age now and we do not think that he is having an easy time adjusting to getting older. He hates any mention of needing assistance in doing anything, and he often snaps at everyone he claims to love, while being open and generous to strangers.

My mom says that he no longer wants her to touch him while laying in bed at night, and that he often accuses her of not being a good wife to him. I know that this is not true because my mom has reduced her work hours just to be able to spend more time with him, and my siblings and I see how well she looks after him.

Is this normal? Because I am beginning to get concerned that he may become verbally or physically abusive and that I may have to go through the same thing with my husband who is 10 years my senior.

CONCERNED

Dear Concerned, What your mother is experiencing is actually more common than you may think or people would like to admit to.

Our society greatly caters to the male ego and once men begin to age, some tend to have a difficult time facing their impending weaknesses and realisation of their mortality. Often times this begins to set in around their forties to fifties and is seen to be a part of a group of symptoms that are the equivalent to the female menopause. The medical term for this is andropause.

Discuss this possibility with your physician, and a mental health professional. Together, both doctors can help you and your family to rule out disease, medication, and mental influences that could be contributing to his unusually bad moods. Because he tends to not want your mom to touch him nights while in bed, it would be my guess that he may be suffering from some level of impotence and is not taking that too well.

Also, the fact that he snaps at loved ones while being openly friendly to strangers may suggest that he has seen himself to be at the centre or head of the family for all these years, and now that he is ageing he feels that he may no longer be valued if he can not perform his strengths as usual. Snapping at loved ones usually is rooted in the individual hating for those that are most important to them seeing them in a state of weakness.

Such individuals take great pride in their strengths and want to be viewed and remembered as being nothing but strong and able. These are just generalisations however, so depending upon the diagnosis and advice of your chosen medical professionals, you and the family (especially your mom) may need to become more familiar with the ageing process as you may need to alter the way that you relate to and interact with your father. Relationships are often changing so this is not a bad thing.

Take a deep breath and continue to love your father as you always have. No matter the age, we must remember that our parents are not a burden but are blessings whom we can always find value in and learn from.

Dear Dr Nekia, I was reading over your qualifications and was wondering what exactly is transpersonal psychology? I have never heard of it before.

CURIOUS

Dear Curious, I have been asked this very question many times, so no worries. Transpersonal psychology is the psychology or the study of the knowing of a person beyond the psyche. It involves the understanding of the individual in relation to their relationships, environments, and beliefs.

Secular psychology and psychiatry deals with the knowing of the psyche and the way that the mind-brain complex processes events through physiological mechanics, emotional response, and cognition (thinking/reasoning). Sociology deals with the study of populations or groups of people and how they interact with and influence one another.

Transpersonal psychology encompasses all of the above while also taking into consideration the person's intimate and internal beliefs (religious, spiritual, racial, sexual, etc) and how these beliefs work together to shape their day to day lives, habits of behaviour, and overall realities. It is a relatively “new” field of psychology and since belief systems can not be quantified or reproduced by scientific experiment, most secular psychologists stay away from practicing it.

For me, I enjoy being a “pioneer” in the field and was drawn to it due to the many “holes” that I found in the theories of secular psychology and sociology which always seemed to remove the power of the individual patient.

Dear Dr Nekia, I have been married for seven years now to a wonderful man and father of two beautiful children. Up until a few months ago, our home was a stable one, but my husband had a drug relapse that he seems to be having difficulty recovering from. He says that he is not currently using but that he finds himself with cravings more than usual. It has been nine years since his last relapse, so I am not understanding what brought this on. How is it that a person can be so strong for so long, only to give in to an unpredictable moment of weakness? Doesn't he love us enough to not use?

MARRIED TO AN ADDICT

Dear Married to an Addict, First I would like to commend you for the loving support that you are giving to your husband. On the contrary to his love being questionable, I can tell that he values and trusts in you just by the fact that he is openly sharing his experience with you. It is not easy for one to admit to their weaknesses or slip-ups, and not many “addicts” have the support system that he has been fortunate to have found in you and his family.

I am curious as to the substance(s) of choice however. Each drug has its own chemical compound, which I like to call its “personality”, and sometimes the drug of choice can help to better understand the reason for use. It is not unheard of for persons who have used or abused drugs to go for long periods of time without relapse, only to succumb to it again. Usually there are “triggers” that act as a switch of sorts that turn on the road to reuse and slip-ups.

These triggers come in the form of environment (people, places, & things); However, perceptions, emotions, beliefs, and memories can also play a big role in drug reuse. It is important that your husband not only refrain from placing himself close to his external triggers, but also that he addresses his internal triggers that may subconsciously be driving him to end up attracting him to the opportunity to reuse. This involves honest and often times emotionally painful internal searching of the root cause of his addiction.

Try to remain non-blaming and non-judgmental as such open-minded acceptance will encourage him to continue to be honest with you. Those who need the most love and support are often times the hardest ones to love. Seek professional help from someone who you both feel you can trust and be comfortable with, and look for signs that he may be hurting himself or others so that you can deal with those issues accordingly.

I know how society generally looks upon addicts, but remember that addiction does not make someone weak or hopeless, it makes them human, and you have the opportunity to love a very special kind of human who may be experiencing life a little bit differently or with a little more difficulty than you.

You can contact Dr Nekia for advice by sending an e-mail to nakedtruth@royalgazette.com

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Published December 01, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated November 30, 2014 at 11:56 pm)

Can we help dad come to terms with ageing?

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