A say in one’s or other’s life?

Liz Taylor continues her series mentioned previously Dad deserves a say about his life, even if he’s wrong

See also, Elder neighbor in crisis? and Prisons Not Geared to the Needs of the Elderly, Study Finds

The gray area between competency and incompetence is one of the most difficult dilemmas any family can face. We went through it when my mom was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and it was hell. I urged the daughter to take her dad to a physician for a diagnosis to know for sure what’s going on. But until he’s clearly mentally impaired, he’s in charge of his life.

And here is another example of the difficulties that can arise. How do we even discuss this?

The oldest jail inmate in state custody had a massive stroke Friday and the state immediately dropped the charges against him so he wouldn’t spend what could be his final days under a cloud of criminal allegations, prosecutors said.

Charlie Parks, a 90-year-old whose family says he suffers from dementia, had been in jail for three months. He was facing a felony assault charge that claimed he tried to stab his caregiver in an assisted living home in December….

But defense attorney John Bernitz said the incarceration of his client shows a fault with the state’s system.

“I don’t know who is personally responsible, but we as a community could have treated him better,” he said.

In November, Parks, a school teacher for 40 years, packed his frying pan, clothes, crystals and meditation books into a tattered plaid suitcase and sneaked out of his assisted living home in Kalispell, Mont., ahead of spirits he thought were chasing him. He cashed his Social Security check and bought a plane ticket to Alaska.

Once in Anchorage, he took up residence at the Days Inn on East Fifth Avenue… His hotel bill mounted and the Veterans of Foreign Wars chipped in before hotel staff found Parks’ daughter, his only child, in New Mexico. She contacted Alaska Adult Protective Services and Parks was moved to a five-bed assisted living home in Russian Jack. He had been there for little more than a month when, in December, he took a 4-inch serrated steak knife to his caregiver, prosecutors said. The caregiver was grazed by the knife.


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2 Responses to “A say in one’s or other’s life?”


  1. 1 vuee 2007 March 17 at 5:07 pm

    http://themomandmejournals.net/2007/02/one-last-bit-of-sermonizing.html

    Gail Rae also asks interesting questions.

    It’s become apparent to me, over the last few months, that we are ignoring the plight of what to do about the grandparents/parents who remain sure of who they are, despite their increasing inability to negotiate the demands of life, in favor of those who are now ensconced in what we currently consider to be worst case scenarios. How many Ancients like my mother, who have not forgotten everything and who still have will enough to not want to be disconnected from family, are languishing in facilities next to those who have forgotten everything, including autonomic function, simply because our society is not economically or socially prepared to consider Ancienthood a legitimate stage of life? Truth is, despite all the online blogs about severe dementia and Alzheimer’s, all the caregivers I know in-the-flesh (and, I know more than a few) are taking care (or have taken care) of parents and grandparents who are traveling paths parallel to my mother’s. These are the paths, I think, that truly call into question our economic and societal assumptions about and ignorance of old age. We’re coming closer and closer to the answer to the question, “What to do about Grandma when she’s no longer Grandma?” The question we seem to be ignoring is, “What do we do about Grandma if she insists on remaining Grandma, even as her ability to operate independently and successfully in life diminishes?”


  1. 1 Liz Taylor takes comments « O’Folks Trackback on 2008 March 12 at 3:25 pm
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