I'm burning out

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my dad is 90 and i am the only family in his life. i am not a mother or am not a cook and am not domestic. but yet i know that if i dont hug him he has no affection and feels very much alone and frightened. i still work... in fact have a lot of responsibility and risk. i feel like i dont know what im doing. i have no kids and dont cook and cannnot get him to agree to getting any help. he needs company more than anything. i want to be there to be his health advocate, but i hate feeling like i have to let him know where i am all the time or else he feels lost. i am tired. i am guilty. i am wearing out and i need to know im not alone. and if there is anything i can do, id love to have suggestions.
he drives..urg... is getting a motorized wheel chair but i will not get in the car with him. my car is too small for a ramp. the only parts i feel in fairly good control of is his meds, but that was only because he ended up with losing them and double taking them until i finally won my battle that i should hold them--especially the controlled ones. he will not allow anyone into his life but me. it means i cant get away; that and my business. my husband doesnt get along with him and that causees martial problems. i know there is a better way to handle it than the guilt and failure i feel. i need help....

63 Comments

Linda, you are not alone in feeling frightened. Most days I go through the day not knowing what to do. There is no cure for old age, so we try to patch things up so that each day is tolerable. I am not domestic, either, so the chores are irritating to me. I don't know why many elders don't want outside help to come in. I guess they don't want to deal with the human interaction it would take.

I know you are going to have to wrestle those car keys away from him. I worry that he could be putting other people's life at risk if he is unable to drive well. Perhaps that would be a good excuse to bring in someone else. There are a lot of wonderful caregivers out there that have much experience working with the elderly. Finding a good one to drive your father places and provide companionship sounds ideal to me. Maybe you could check with people at your local senior center to see if they could recommend a good caregiver. It would take so much of the burden off you and your father wouldn't need to drive.
Linda, I believe it's time you took back control, provided you ever had it in the first place that is. Your father needs you more than you need him, so you have the power to do what is right in your eyes. I don't care if he doesn't want anyone else in his life, too bad. You are sacrificing your husband during this, and that isn't right. Your first priority BEFORE your father, is your hubby. So you don't have kids, and can't cook, no big deal. Not every woman is cut out to be a domestic diva, so forget that part. Where is your husband in all of this? Have you put him so far back on the burner that he has NO say? How does that make him feel I wonder. No, it's time to get your priorities straight, and get the help you need. And tell your dad, that the first time he gets into an accident when he shouldn't be driving, his insurance will drop him and he'll probably get sued. Because it will most likely be HIS fault, and he knows it. Take back the control that you gave up. Ask your husband for help if you don't have the backbone to do it. I bet HE does. ♥
Hi Linda,
You are not alone.
I have a few suggestions not sure if they would work for you but here goes.
This may be a little labor intensive, but a geriatric manager gave me this suggestion.
Find someone through a local home health company who YOU interview first.
It may be someone who your father can relate to (in my situation the geriatric manager suggested a mature polish woman, since both of my parents and relatives were from Poland and there was a more trusting attitude for someone of their own ethnic backround.

Have the helper come to YOUR house to clean and help with some meal preparation and invite your father over to visit while she is there.

Let your father visit with her while you are busy in another area of the house so they establish a raport.
After 3-4 times of this, suggest that she now help him out as well, with some cooking and cleaning.

Dont know if it will help but it might.

ps as far as cooking goes, I have found a Crock Pot to be my best friend lately.
You put everything in one pot, with a little broth or fluid and at the end of the day
you have a fully cooked meal, meat, potatoes veggies etc.

Also, there is a company called Phillips which manufactures a great
medic alert pendant and also a medication dispenser in case you can no
longer administer his medications.

Dear Linda,
I am in a very similar position, though I know longer work. My father is 77, going on 107 due to all of his illnesses. We!
took the keys away when most of his Rx's said, do not drive while taking this medication. As his DPOA, if I allowed him to drive, I could be held legally responsible !
As far as hiring outside help, we'd love to be able to, but can't afford it.
My father goes to a senior center activity center every day and that does help some what.
Wishing you the best of luck and understanding that you definitely are not alone.
Suzanne
Hi Linda,
My first piece of advice is take care of yourself and your marriage first. You cannot get down physically or everything starts spinning out of control. The added stress of marital issues are not good for you. My mother lives with me and my husband. I did not handle the stress well at first and ended up with kidney stones/surgery and a 3 month recovery period where my brother had to come from out of town and take Mom back with him. It was during that time friends stepped in and gave me some stern advice. Somehow as daughters we lose our voice around our parents. I'm not talking of rudeness, but Mom lives in my and I am married. I am here to help her and have become the parent. So even though you do not have children, it's time to deal with your father as if he is your child. I would do all I could to obtain POA over his medical. Now you can talk directly to your father's dr. Before I had POA of Mom's medical and before she moved in with me, I went with her to her dr and was able to speak with him privately in the hall. He went into the room and told Mom she could no longer drive. There as an exchange of words, but he was very stern with her with the fact she could kill or injure innocent parties by her inability to drive safely anymore. That was that. While I was recouping from surgery I also had a friend call me about her neighborhood Facebook page and she posted for me that I needed assistance with my Mom. This amazing woman called me who is a senior's advocate and I unloaded on her. She has helped me find agencies and get assistance. It's lonely out there for the children of the parents who need us, Linda. But, I want to encourage you in these 3 areas. 1. Take care of YOU and your marriage. 2. Talk with your father's dr. 3. Get the word out that you need help. You cannot do this on your own! I'll be praying for you, Linda.
Dear dauighterlinda, when I first read your message, I began to answer, but after reading all those marvelous, real and sincere messages, I believe my iddeas similar ad not better.
Please don´t feel alone, we all are in the same boat. If we sunk, our dear ones will be in worst situation. Take care of yourself
Lots of hugs and virtual support
Daughterlinda, I agree with Gonzalez38! There are so many good suggestions I won't add to the list. Just here to encourage you to keep coming back and typing in your update, status, new questions, suggestions for others. Being on this site has helped me vent and get great suggestions. Although I didn't take all the suggestions, very often there were suggestions for me that were completely priceless.

While caring for my mom I had no idea how long it would go on. I hoped it would go on for a long time, but it was also wearing me out. If I did not take good care of my relationship with my sweetheart I would be the one alone right now. I am very thankful that I'm not.

Please make your husband your priority. In the long run, he will be with you for many more years to come, long after your Dad moves on.
Dear Linda - Understand how you feel. My 91 yr. old mother has vascular dementia - and at times that creates a paranoia and mistrust which results in her wanting only me around. Prior to living with me, my mother lived at her own home with caregivers 5 hours a day, spaced throughout the day so she was never alone for very long. But just after New Year's, on a very cold day, my mother wandered out into the street in her nightdress and slippers before the early morning caregiver arrived. Police and social services were called and she was ordered to have 24 hr. supervision. It is quite an experience to have to provide something that one can't afford and receive very little help or information beyond more numbers to call. So as I continue the search for a solution, my mother lives with me and while I love her very much, it can be a frustrating experience. Do not feel that anger, frustration and exasperation are any indication you do not care for your father - above all do NOT feel guilty if such feelings arise. Caring for an elderly parent is an instant lifechanger that you have no choice but to deal with - and on top of all one's other responsibilities, it is no wonder we get burnt out and feel angry at times.
Until I learned to take some time out for myself - no matter what - it was just exhausting getting up every morning (especially after being up during the night hearing her wandering) only to hear my name called almost instantly upon her awakening and then constantly throughout the day as she seemed to need me for the simplest things. Or just wanted me around because it made her feel safe. And I started to burn out fast. And, worse, I started to resent her, feeling she was in this mess because of bad decisions she'd made and now I was stuck with dealing with it. I recognized I was feeling this way because I was tired.

I did several things. 1. Her doctor is your friend. He informed my mother she couldn't drive. No quarrel there. And he also advised her she needed 24 hr. care. 2. Any difficulties with my mother resisting the idea of 24 hr. care or the need for supervision, I explain it is not me who is "foisting" these things on her, but now a requirement by social services if she wants to remain outside an institution. That once they were called in, it is no longer a choice.
She now understands this. 3. When toileting accidents during the night were resulting in a trail of puddles staining once gorgeous pine floors (hate to sound petty, but I'm trying to sell my house so have to keep spotless and in good condition, and the wear and tear the wanderings and the rest put on the house are astounding.) I bought Depends Maxi and she wears these constantly now and that solved that. 4. To get some needed sleep during the night, I've made the house safe to wander, removing area rugs and pushing furniture to one side
and, most importantly, turned off the circuit breakers for the stove and microwave. She can't get out because I have always had special locks that require a key.
I now get sleep and I'm better able to tackle what lies ahead. But it's a situation that can't remain as it is and I continue to look for help. In my situation it's a live in caregiver, someone who needs a place to live - and there are many in my mother's neighborhood after all the natural disasters - and I will put in safeguards in her home like changing the locks to keyed ones and putting safety switches on the stove - or at least doing something as simple as making sure she has a tea kettle with a loud whistle and that it is FULL of water before going to bed so she won't burn the house down. It is a challenging and difficult time. But at the worst of times, I remember she was always there for me. Always. Never a question about it. She is 91. If nothing else, nature will see there is an end to this situation at some point. In the meantime, the trick is to do what we can to make our parents' end of time less frightening while still holding onto our sanity...and our love for them. I sometimes look at my mother, now so frail and until I fix her hair - sometimes like a wandering bag lady - and my heart breaks for her. Just breaks. How cruel life sometimes seems. My best wishes to you. You're doing a wonderful thing helping. Take care, Hopingforsleep.
I started going over on a regular basis and taking my mother out every Saturday for the day hoping she would give up her liscense and sure enough she did. She knew she could count on me and soon waited knowing I was coming. If he can drive then use his car to drive him around. I worked fulltime and had children and a husband and fortunately they understood. I agree getting a warm and caring person to get friendly with him can wean him into a great relationship for him and he will look forward to her/him when you arent around. Daycares will usually pick them up and bring them out for the day and give them meals, they can play cards, etc there also but I had to go with my Mom several times until she felt comfortable there, a 3 month weaning process. Getting him to know someone will be the best thing for him and maybe you can find that special person. I find caregivers on care (dot)com on line and read their background checks, you have to shuffle through many to find a good one for sure. If letting him know where you are gives him comfort, why is that an issue. if you were in his shoes you would want that feeling of comfort also. Talk to your husband about being supportive, after all , your poor Dad is 90 and he doesnt live with you does he? My Moms been with us now for 5 years and is completely unable to walk or talk and is incontinent, my husband did the same for his parent years ago and understands. Hope you find a nice person soon, male or female to slowly become friendly with him. We will all be in the same boat some day and we get what we give. Best of luck.
All of these suggestions are valid and good. Even though my husband is only in the beginning stages of dementia, his behavior (auditory hallucinations, paranoia) have already brought on anxiety attacks for me. We found a new neurologist who is doing a lot of testing and we have gone to the VA for help. (If your Mom or Dad is a vet, your Mom may be eligible for some help from the VA.) I feel better now and at least get more than 2 or 3 hours of sleep a night. I know my situation is only going to get worse, and that terrifies me, but I believe I am taking the right steps to get whatever help I can when I need it. My husband also wants me around 24/7. However, I am 17 years younger than he is and I need to be working, but I haven't been able to find a job since we moved to a new state 10 months ago. I need health insurance, but he doesn't understand our financial status any longer. I thought when we were planning this move his disconnect from the whole financial and insurance issues was just his normal selfishness, now I know it was this disease that has suddenly and dramatically become worse. Don't get me wrong, I knew a long time ago my husband was self-centered, etc., but it was OK, because I could at least talk to him and make him understand my point of view, the reality of the situation. That is no longer the case. It's probably a good thing that I didn't get a job yet because I would have had to quit to deal with what has been happening since Christmas Day, 2012. We have no family or friends here so I am the only one who can do this right now. That is why I am getting the tests, finding out what's available and working to get whatever help I can. There is a lot out there, but you have to seek it out. It won't come to you, but with the right guidance...which you will find here and at sites like the Alzheimer's Assoc, LBDA, Area Agency on Aging...you will be able to get the help you need. Don't give up...fight the good fight...it's for a great cause: YOUR health and well-being as well as your Mom's and your marriage! Hang in there! You are NOT alone!

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