WAMU 88.5 : Metro Connection

Filed Under:

Up All Night With An Elderly Parent

Play associated audio
Ever since Jane Beard invited her elderly father to move in with her nine months ago, she’s been up almost every night caring for him.
Jane Beard
Ever since Jane Beard invited her elderly father to move in with her nine months ago, she’s been up almost every night caring for him.

It was two decades ago, but Jane Beard, of Silver Spring, still remembers hearing her kids wake up in the middle of the night. She'd go to their bedroom, bring them a glass of water, and tell them that everything was going to be all right. But now, her kids are grown up, and it's not them keeping Jane up at night—it's her father.

Beard invited her father, Bruce to come live with her and her family roughly nine months ago, and she’s been up almost every night since.

“A big difference between when you have kids in the house and when you have someone really old is when you have kids, you expect to get up in the middle of the night,” Beard explains. “Part of you that's tuned to listen for what they need or what they're going to need.”

Beard’s father has dementia and what she refers to as untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He wakes her up at night, shouting, moving, and often speaks to her as if she were a nurse at an army hospital. “It's just completely bizarre,” she says.

Beard says the dreams trace back to his time as a soldier in World War II. He was in a unit that was sent into the Battle of the Bulge without adequately warm uniforms. After weeks in the trenches in snow and cold wind, Beard’s father was hospitalized with ‘frozen feet,’ and remained in the hospital for a year-and-a-half afterward.

Beard says even with professional caretakers 12 hours a day, having her father in the house is stressful and emotionally straining. Yet, there are positive lessons she’s learning.

“I know my dad is being a dad in ways that I can't articulate,” she says.

Beard says she’s learning lessons from him, and through the experience, she now sees herself and her family through new eyes.

“I love him, I really do love him,” she says, “But, just like things can be easy and hard, so is the way you can love somebody.”


Emily Friedman learned about Jane Beard, and the struggles she’s had caring for her father, through WAMU’s Public Insight Network. It’s a way for people to share their experiences with us, and a way for us to reach out for input on stories we’re working on. 
Visit this link for more information.

[Music: "Sock on Ears" by Michael Andrews from the Original Score of the film Me, You, and Everyone We Know]

NPR

National Museum of African American History Opens Its Doors

More than 100 years after it was originally proposed, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is opening its doors in Washington, D.C.
NPR

While Everyone Was Partying At Woodstock, I Was Stuck At Schrafft's

The chain restaurant that catered to women helped redefine how Americans eat, according to a new book. For NPR's Lynn Neary, it also defined how she did and didn't fit with the counterculture.
NPR

Hillary Clinton's Plan For America's Students

In advance of the first debate, a rundown of the Democratic presidential candidate's positions.
NPR

As Our Jobs Are Automated, Some Say We'll Need A Guaranteed Basic Income

How will the economy provide economic opportunities if employers need fewer workers in the future? A growing number of people in Silicon Valley are saying the only realistic answer is a basic income.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.