Dealing With My Aging Parents

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I am an only child and my parents are in their mid-70's, For the most part they are in good health other than the regular health issues that come with age: high blood pressure, arthritis, mild depression and with my Dad, maybe some early dementia. Also, becuase of finances, I moved in with my parents - which alone is stressful; however, being with them has made me aware of how they are really aging and I am having issues with that.

My Mom has always been the type of person who could come across as curt. The older she gets, the worse this curtness is specifically towards my Dad (who retired 5 years ago). She hates everything that he does and it is always wrong. She is always in a horrible mood and constantly complains about everything. She claims that she doesn't feel well and to date we can't find anything physically wrong with her other than high blood pressure (which is under control), allergies and arthritis in her hands, which she can correct with joint replacement but refuses. I do think that she suffers from depression but she refuses to talk about it much less take medication for it. At times she will say she is very depressed but even during those conversations, she refuses to get help. URGH

My Dad has become a very grumpy man since his retirement and I think he may have early stages of dementia. It is as though aliens came and took his brain. He has problems remembering things ranging from conversations to incidents, his vocabulary has changed, and did I mention he is grumpy/croctchity. I also think he is suffering from some depression, but nothing like my Mom. He misses work, misses being busy and having challenges. He also has some back and leg pain from prevoius injuries, which at times prevents him from doing what he wants.

I am having so many issues with this - they are driving me crazy, they bicker all the time, they won't listen to the advice I give them, they are STUBBORN and I am going to lose my mind!!! I have seen a therapist to try and figure out how I can deal with the changes that they are going through and deal with them without losing my mind but I didn't find that that was really helping. There are times that I am at my wits end - I want to run away and never look back. Of course I would never do that. And I realize that this is just the beginning - who knows what I will have to face in the future. And being an only child, who happens to be single, I will have to deal with this alone.

When we are younger and our parents are younger, we know that they will eventually get old. But when it actually happens, it is very scary and stressful. Some days I feel like I will be able to handle whatever is coming my way and other times I feel like I am going to snap. Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with this and how to deal with stubborn, older, cranky/grumpy parents?


Well, you just took a very good first step. Writing here helps by sharing your concerns, and clarifying your situation. You are not alone, as many are in similar circumstances. The answer is grace; as in receiving and extending. Grace = God's loving mercy. We all need that. You can read books on dementia/Alzheimer's, and attend a Support Group or two. Those wonderful tools will help you process what you and your parents are experiencing, and prepare you for the future. Of coarse no one knows for sure what the future holds, because the process is different for everyone. But, they will provide you with information, support, encouragement, and a step-back look at what you are going through.

I would also suggest you speak with your parent's Physicians regarding the depression issues. Take notes, and send off a list of concerns, asking for help. If there doctor is a good one, you may make some progress. Be strong and bold, and stand by your instincts, after seeking wise counsel. Caregiving is not for sissies. You may have to make some tough decisions, and the more information you have beforehand, the better.

I can relate to the ebb and flow of feelings. Such is life, regardless of what we have to face. Since this is a learning curve, expect challenges, successes and failures. Be gentle, both with yourself and your parents. Don't expect perfection from either, or to have all your questions answered perfectly.

Thanks for sharing your story, and the next time you feel stressed, know we can relate, and that this too shall pass. How to deal with stubborn, cranky/grumbling folks? The answer is grace. A long walk, talk with a supportive friend, and separation work wonders. Chocolate and gardening work sometimes, too. Bake cookies, laugh at the dumb stuff, and hug a friend. Last, but not least, remember to take care of you emotionally, physically and spiritually.
I am 43 years old, in the middle of a divorce, I have 4 kids and I have been caring for my father for 6 years. He has Parkinson's, Diabetes, Cancer and suffered a stroke on 9/10/09. Things were tough before, now he is completely unable to care for himself. I have entered into very "personal" care of my father as he is unable to use the restroom anymore. I work full-time from 5:00am to 2:30pm, get home and go into full care of dad. He won't allow his daytime caregiver to see him undressed, so he waits for me to do everything.
I have been depressed for a while, but now it has escalated to me becoming angry and I resent that I am having to deal with this, alone. My sister "can't help" as she is too busy. My kids are distant, but compassionate, but don't know what to do to help me (they are 14, 15, 22 and 27). My dad is, and has always been, a very selfish person who is completely ungrateful.He would be in a home, but he made some poor financial decisions, so I had to move in with him (guilt drove me to accept this responsibility), and now my world has collasped financially. I need
to know how I will ever be able to do this? I have even thought of diappearing one night...but my guilt would kill me. People say "find time for yourself", and I I can't afford to have my weekly caregiver come and "sit" with him, so it's me left here to deal with this. How are other people doing this?
My dad was in severe debt, and is now in a nursing home on Medicaid. I don't have enough money to help him, but time to visit. I do all the paperwork, and finances for him, and leave the nursing care to the experts. I found lots of help out there, from legal, to personal, friends to organizations willing to help. There are resources, and there is help available, so I advise you not to quit, but rather, pray: "Help!"

And you have personal reasons to get help: your own personal survival and medical needs, and your children. Do you have a reason for guilt? Or is it false guilt? (You don't have to answer that question.) Since dad is selfish and ungrateful, that does not mean you are obligated to be subservient. Help him get help, by filling out a nursing home application, and get a Medicaid one while you are at it. You have no financial responsibility to him, and must care for yourself and children. Do not run away, but run to Social Services, Commission on Aging, or your local Senior Services. That's what they are there for. Is your Dad a Veteran? You can get help, so don't give up. Sounds like you need some direction, and some relief for yourself. Take care, and best wishes.
I called my mother's doctor and asked him if he thought an anti-depressant would be in order. He very much agreed and prescribed zoloft for my mother (also curt in general but it had increased to an almost intolerable level). There was a noticeable difference within 36 hours. It is a big help. No side effects for my mother - great side effects for us!
And another thing that might help - a friend recently sent me a message saying it is a blessing to be able to care for a parent! How's that for a good perspective? He also wished me wisdom, patience and energy. Good luck!
Dear Weeza,
The best advice from we who have been there and have survived is this: TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME
And if that doesn't work: TAKE IT ONE HOUR AT A TIME

When we project our troubles into the future, they tend to take on a life of their own and cause us to lose hope. Whenever that started to happen to me I countered it with the Serenity Prayer:

If you can find the time to read it, I would also recommend you read "Elder Rage" by Jacqueline Marcell. I was in situation similar to yours several years ago and Jacqueline's story saved my sanity.
It can be quite the blessing to care for our loved ones, but sometimes we need outside help. I help by providing the best resources available. They don't have the wherewithal to search these out, and I can't perform more than my Creator gifted me with. So I get the blessing of being able to be a blessing in peripheral ways. Mom, Dad, and FIL get the help they need, and my family can has more energy to devote to loving, like family can. The professionals have their niche, and children and grands have theirs. That way, everyone wins!
Absolutely! Giving care is not limited to the actual care - it is the caring in our hearts, first!
Well put, Elizza!
Dear Weeza, Please read all these postings. This network has unbelieveable people on it that have been through the same thing you are dealing with. I too am a only child with divorsed parents. I had to move my dad in with me due to finances he did to himself. He has had three strokes and have left him depressed and has effected his ability to word find and process conversations. I did get him to a pysch and got him on medication. It seems to have helped him. I had to fudge a little on why i thought he should go. I wrote a letter to the dr prior to the appointment laying things out on what I saw the problems being. It worked out good by prewarning the dr. and my dad thought he was going because he could not sleep.
At the same time my dad moved in with me I went to my moms house one day and found her on the kitchen floor. She had been there a couple days. Long story on that - she is now in a ALF and has lost everything due to the circumstances she put herself in due to alcohol. I feel the same as you do. Good days and then bad days. I can't even double up running them around or taking them shoppping etcc because they hate each other. So not only am I a caregiver but I feel on some days like a cab driver. I take my dad to his places and then on some days I am right back to those same stores but with my mom. It is hair pulling most of the time. I hide in my bedroom alot and read. It is a cheap way to escape to another world.
I think the best advise on this posting I have read is take it day by day or if you have to HOUR by HOUR. I am currently going to counseling to try and deal with the anger and frusteration that I struggle with each day. It is a learning curve and a tough one on top of that. Know that you are not alone..... you have all of us and we understand. Hang in there and take a deep breathe. Keep searching for resources and as I always say "eat the sandwich in small bites and try not and jam the whole thing in your mouth at one time - you'll choke" Bless you !!!
Wow, I can't beleive the amount of replies already. Thank you all for your kind words and advice. It is nice to know that I am not the only one that feels this way. I already feel better and have am thinking about the advice that you all have shared and plan on following some of it. I thank you all for encouraging me to post my vent sessions here and will continue to do so. I hope that I can also offer you all words of encouragement!

Everyone have a wonderful day!

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