Tuesday, July 23, 2013
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON?
He spoke of neighbours living above him whose music and habits were so annoying that he was certain it was a deliberate attempt to get him to move. He was living in a apartment 411 in a building without age restrictions and he was persuaded that a couple with a teenage son lived in the fifth floor unit over his.
Mom was still alive and physically able and active when he first reported these concerns to us. There was a sense of helplessness and resignation in his expression of this problem. Years passed and Mom and Dad moved to a senior’s complex a couple of blocks away. We were truly uneasy about him when he reported that the family from the fifth floor in their former apartment building had moved to the new place as well and were directly above his home unit. It was upsetting to him when the loud music was played all night long. Dad said that he occasionally pounded the ceiling with his cane. Both Mom and Dad were in their eighties by this time. Mom’s mental health slipped away more noticeably until she was moved to the nursing section at ground level and Dad continued to live alone in their third floor apartment, receiving daily checks and a supper meal. During one of my visits Dad told me about some boys, teenagers, who were climbing trees in neighbouring back yards, and they were staying in the branches for hours, sometimes all night. He couldn’t imagine why they were doing that and what they were doing. Then he asked me to take a look from the third floor balcony. I did but there was nothing there. “Oh you can’t see them. That’s strange.” The conversation ended abruptly then.
For the past four years my hearing has been impacted by a malady called tinnitus. It is an auditory perception not directly produced externally and one of the most elusive conditions which medical professionals face. It consists of hissing, roaring, ringing or whooshing sounds in one or both ears, and the sound ranges from high to low pitch and can be a single tone, multi-tonal, or simply noise-like with no tonal quality. Now I also hear what sounds like indistinct music and infrequently voices.
We were concluding that my father’s mind was slipping into early stages of dementia. I believe now that he simply did not understand the tricks that were being played on him by his hearing dysfunction. Visually perceiving things that were not there, is not as easily minimized, because Dad’s long-sightedness was perfect and he needed glasses only for reading. That delusion may only be accounted by psychotic disorder.
Dad was ancient when he experienced some of these symptoms, and I will only turn 71 in a couple of months.