I'm 2 years into caregiving for my 72-year-old dad, and things are declining. Could use some advice.
Hello everyone. I stumbled upon your forum yesterday while researching assisted living places and signs of dementia. I've since spent the last 24 hours visiting your site off and on and reading the heartwarming and disheartening stories on your threads. Oh how I can relate to so many things you all have shared. My heart and hugs to you who are struggling in this often thankless, seemingly insurmountable, whirlwind of a role called caregiving.
I am the oldest (42) of two daughters; we are jointly tackling providing caregiving to our 72 y.o. father. His health has been a roller-coaster of events over the last decade. It began with Stage III Melanoma, few months later his first stroke, then a battle with invasive bladder cancer and a second stroke in December of 2013. A few years ago he was diagnosed with 3 aneurysms (2 aortic). Went in for surgery in early 2016 to address the triple A but it was too invasive for the surgeon. Referred to a specialist but my father threw in the towel. He decided he will not go through any more procedures or tests- he simply resolved to taking his umpteen meds and living out the rest of the life he has. (My sister and I respect his wishes and understand it is his decision.) Until 2015, his common law wife (20+ years) lived with him and provided caregiving. Though I say that loosely. She scheduled appointments, went to doctor's visits and cooked meals but beyond that there was no emotional support, no interaction (literally sitting in the same room for hours and never speaking to him), the house was not cleaned regularly and she frequently left him to go off with friends. To her defense, my father is not an easy person to contend with. Incredibly opinionated (at times hateful), he knows everything and can do it better. Our entire life, conversations with him were typically 1-sided. He seemed disinterested in our lives and rarely if ever, even asked how things are going. I do know my father loves us - in his own way. For most of the last two years, he has been able to care for himself. Though he's had a plethora of health issues, he is mobile and still able to drive. Does his own grocery shopping, picks up his meds, and visits the flea-markets on the weekends. He does suffer from dysphagia (cognitive issues and broken speech) - a result of his last stroke. He has been banned from a store for his behavior. When his partner decided to leave mid 2015 (to "enjoy the last few years of her life") - my sister and I automatically assumed the roles of caregiver. He's our dad - you take care of family. Right? We knew this would not be easy. My sister travels for work 3-4 days per week, I own my own business and have 2 children. We are both married. Sadly, my father does not have any friends and therefore no other outlet. There were few things my father enjoyed: fishing, woodworking, target shooting and hunting, and he was a gear head. He is unable to do any of those things. He not only has cognitive issues, but limited dexterity in his hands. He spends much of his time walking around his yard picking up sticks, doing trivial cleaning tasks and watching tv. Offers to take him to the park, fishing, etc. are often passed on because he tires easily as well. My sister and I have tried to get him to move in with one of us so that he can have regular interaction and for somewhat selfish reasons - it is so difficult for she and I to maintain 2 homes (ours and his). He always has a list of things for us to do: schedule trees to be cut down, order a carport, have a sidewalk poured, get the inside of the house painted, bring in an electrician to fix lights, order dirt/gravel and spread it and the latest, new flooring. We visit him regularly (at least once a week) and pay his bills, balance his checkbook, call in prescription refills, etc. We both have POA (financial and medical). We got that taken care of when his partner left. The last several months we have noticed possible signs of dementia. He has begun drinking every afternoon as well. Yesterday he called for a family meeting and requested my sister and I along with our mother (who he has been divorced from for 35 years) be present. When we arrived, he was confused why we were all there and said he only wanted to speak with our mother. My sister and I obliged and went outside while they spoke. He is questioning our handling of his finances. He told her he doesn't see his statements (though they are delivered to his house, he opens them, inspects them and then my sister and I balance the books and pay bills). The checkbooks are left with him so he has access to the info and he carries a debit card so he has his own access to funds. He had a fire on his stove last week as well (though he was able to extinguish it and went and purchased a fire extinguisher the next day). I have reached out to his doctor to ask him to test him for dementia. He has an appt at the end of the month. He has siblings but they live 1000 miles away. Any advice?