I am fairly new to this caregiver position and it's a tough one!

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My Dad is 76 years old and suffers from COPD and depression. My Mom passed away 33 years ago (I miss her so much!). Dad has suffered from depression every since. He remarried and we married for 24 years until she went crazy and started drinking and fooling around. We had to force her to leave as she was abusing my Dad. Dad became even more depressed after that and his health has steadily declined. He is very demanding and selfish but I still love him and will do anything to keep him out of a nursing home. Most recently, he had to have an aortic abdominal aneurysm repair. He has had a difficult time bouncing back. He fell on Christmas Day and again the day after Christmas. I took him to the ER and they admitted him for A-fib and bronchitis. I fought hard to get him into inpatient rehab to help him get strong before he returns home. He participated in exercises for the first three days and has refused the past three days. They are now discharging him. I am so upset with him because I don't feel he is strong enough. He has lived independently to this point but I'm just not sure if he can live alone any longer. I cannot move in with him and no one else in the family can either. We all have to work and are faced with some tough decisions. Why do some elderly folks refuse to do what could help them the most? It has me so upset and I just don't know what the future holds for Dad. He seems to always be feeling sorry for himself and I can't continue to give up large parts of my life to care for him. I am burning out FAST! My brothers have no patience with him and refuse to help. They may take him to a doctor's appt. of pick up meds every now and then but that is all. I am really struggling and this is all new to me. Any words of wisdom?


Something I've noticed in older people is that they think they are more capable than they really are. I am starting to understand it, now that I'm getting older. My mind tells me I can do something, but my body protests. My mind may think I can pedal the bike to the top of the hill, but my body turns around when I'm a quarter way up. :-)

It could be that your father feels he will do just fine in his home. If he has not been deemed to be mentally incompetent, you may have to live with the choice and just encourage him with other opportunities. Some senior communities are really nice and may help him a bit with his depression -- I don't know, since it sounds like his depression is deeply entrenched. One thing that he really does need if he stays at home is a medic alert pendant so he can call for help if he falls or goes into fibrillation. You should make that a non-negotiable condition for him to come home.

I wish you could get him to a place where he would be safer, if only for your own peace of mind. In a circumstance like this, we can encourage them, but have to work with what decisions they make as long as they are competent.
You say you "will do anything to keep him out of a nursing home." Even if a nursing home is the best solution for him?

Is his depression being treated? Is he compliant with the treatment plan? (Does he take meds as directed?) Did they address this in the hospital? How recently has his medication or treatment plan been adjusted? Depression can be very debilitating and have a huge impact on other medical conditions. I'd be sure this aspect of his health is being addressed -- to the extent that you have any influence over his decisions.

Who is the "we" who forced his wife to leave? Did Dad approve of that action? Were other methods, such as medical treatment for her "craziness" tried first?

Insurance will not pay for rehab services if the patient will not cooperate to the extent that he can.

Do the medical professionals have an opinion about whether Dad can live alone? What level of care do they advise?

You are right. Caregiving is a very tough role! I understand " I can't continue to give up large parts of my life to care for him." His other children will not be his direct caregivers. I think you'll need to set aside any preconceptions of what you will and will not allow for your Dad. If it is true that he cannot live alone, and no family member can live with him, then other options HAVE to be considered, such as hiring in-home help or placing him in some kind of a care center.

See how he does when he is home. See about treatment for the depression. Ask the medical professionals what level of care he seems to need. But even after all that you will not be able to force him to take care of himself as you think he should.
As far as keeping my Dad out of the nursing home, I have had numerous experiences with nursing homes in my area and have not seen any fit for him to live in. He cannot afford assisted living.

Yes, he has been treated for his depression and continues to be monitored and meds adjusted. He still is depressed and can be difficult to deal with. He is a part of every decision that his made.

My brothers and I forced her out.....she was abusing our father. Yes, we tried to get help for her....she refused. She was 13 years younger than my Dad and was addicted to prescription meds. She self destructed and died one year after leaving. We alerted her family and they did nothing.

I know insurance will not pay if he is not co-operating, he is being discharged tomorrow. We meet in the morning to talk about his future plans.

I am frustrated because he expects to be waited on and is very demanding. My Mom and Step-mom "babied" him and he expects me to do the same. Before his surgery he was quite capable of doing a lot for himself and would not. And, now, I will have to wait and see what abilities he has and go from there. I KNOW we will have to do something. I would love to have someone live with him and care for him but I don't even know where to start. I WILL get through this just needed to vent a little. I never dreamed I would be in this position.
Thanks for the additional information. Nursing homes are more expensive than assisted living. I assume you are thinking that Medicaid would pay for the NH. In many states the Medicaid Elderly Waiver program will also pay for Assisted Living, if you can find one the accepts that form of payment. Also, the Medicaid program may pay for some in-home help for Dad. It is worth looking into what the options truly are for your dad.

He can and will expect whatever he chooses to expect. That does not mean that others (you in particular) have to live up to those expectations. I could expect to be waited on until the cows come home on their own, but, alas, that would not make it occur. It is healthy for him to do what he can do for himself. This is no doubt a big shock for him if he has a long history of the woman in his life waiting on him. But he can adjust.

When you meet in the morning (with the care team?) to talk about future plans, make it clear and obvious that you are not going to provide around-the-clock care. Start reflecting reality right from the beginning. If he states his expectations, be sure you don't go along.

Who will do your laundry?
My kids will.
No, Dad. I will be happy to teach you how to do your laundry. If that doesn't work out, I'll help your find someone to hire.

And so on. Make it clear in front of witnesses that he cannot expect to be waited on for things he can do for himself.

Good luck!
Elderly parents seem to give their kids more diffculties than strangers. Look into a male home health aid, I found diffcult elders respond better to same sex caregivers. I think elders become stubborn because they are set in their ways and are afraid of change and/or admitting to themselfs that they need help. Make sure the aide is doing exercises with him and he may be able to get a physical therapist to come out and put apporaite therapies in place.
Kabwest8588, one has to realize if a person has COPD it is very exhausting to do exercises. Even a healthy elder will dig in their heels and not do exercises.... my Dad was, and still is, that way, unless the physical therapist is a really attractive young woman ;)
I agree with making it clear that you will no longer coddle him. Your statements that you will do anything and you will not give up a major part of your life are contradictory and unrealistic. Decide what you will and can do and make that very clear to everyone including your family. Are they committed to keeping him out of the nursing home? If so, are they willing to put their money where their mouth is?
My dad is 86 and lost the love of his life (my mom) 10 years ago.

Since then he suffered from a stroke 5 years ago which he recovered from nearly completely and we were able to move him from his home into a really nice independant living facility where he has lived for the last five years.

In December, he suffered a major seizure that put him in the hospital for four days and into a rehab facility that did little for him. The rehab staff was horrid and before long, Medicare released him as the staff said he was regressing and refusing therapy.

I figured he was well enough to go back to his independant living apartment with some assistance with his medication (which he was forgetting to take, and thus his seizure). Some staff was good and some not so good.

He had a call button that he was supposed to use and used it when he felt like it. One day he fell while using the bathroom; hitting his ear on the top of the toilet and creating quite a bruise. We thought he'd be okay as it didn't knock him out of anything and even seeing his regular MD..it was healing nicely and didn't have many concerns.

Until staff called me one day and said that while taking him to the bathroom, he'd forgotten how to use his legs. I decided not to mess with it, call the ambulance, and after taking a CT in the ER, they found he had a subdural hematoma and rushed him to Froedert Hospital, 60 miles away, where they performed the risky procedure of drilling two holes in his skull to drain the blood from his brain.

He is recovering from it nicely at a skilled nursing facility close to where I live, and at 86, has regained the use of his left side, along with his speech abilitly.

He is a very lucky man at 86, much like the nice kind man he always was, yet not. When I talk too much it's "blah blah blah..shut up will ya." and taking him to the doctor is just a pain as he swears if he has to sit for too long, etc.

His Neurologist, taking him off Dilantin HAS helped some as he's not so tired and ornery..and it also has helped his swallowing ability some as he just couldn't handle the pureed food they were giving him.

He has since been upgraded to a Mechanical diet, which means he eats more.

He will have to stay at the skilled nursing facility he's at as, even though he's doing much better and getting control of his legs, he can no longer live independantly, which he has no problems with.

However, it's not him as much as it's me burning out. To get him on Medicaid (T19), he has to spend down 5 life insurance policies which I've finally gotten the paperwork for. I need to move him out of his apartment and find a place for his things. I need to take him to follow up appointments to his MDs..the last one costing him over $200 for a transport van to get him to.

I need to be there for all of these appointments, find a mover to pack his things from his apartment (as I just don't have the strength left anymore to do it myself), and then everyday I visit him, he's glad to see me for five minutes, and then tells me I talk too much.

I've been trying for nearly 6 long months to get him where he needed to be regarding getting independant; fighting for therapy to get him back to being independant (as his last rehab facility didn't do that..)..

He was sooo close to being independant again. I lectured him all the time about the place he'd be in if he didn't listen. I spent nights sleeping on his couch keeping an eye on him while he'd self transport himself to the bathroom on his own.

One day I couldn't reach him on our daily morning phone calls, rushed over to his apartment, and found him sitting in his transport chair shaving after he'd gotten out of the shower BY HIMSELF...and he was soo damned happy and proud of himself for being able to do that along..irregardless how much I lectured him that he couldn't do that until he was stronger.

And now here we sit.

I am burned out beyond burned out. I have a sister miles away that won't come and help me move him so I have no choice but to hire a mover to pack his things because I just don't have the strength to do it by myself.

I am angry with him, but love him to pieces. I have looked for local support groups regarding being a family caretaker for an elderly parent with no success and am at my wits end.

My husband is of little help as he has no idea what I'm going through.

Just wondering how many of you are as tired and burned out as I am. Love your elderly parents to pieces, but it's like dealing with a child that just won't listen until they end up in a nursing facilty.

Dad is happy there..but I am just plain angry with him as he likes seeing me for about 10 minutes, but then wants nothng to do with me as I push him. He doesn't want to be pushed and just likes staff asking him to do it when he feels like it.

He told me today that he loves me..but that I come there too much and I ask too much of him and he'd rather either sleep when he wants to, do his therapies when he feels like it..and for the most part..I come when I come.

Any advice??
This coming from a Dad that used to love seeing me all the time. He'd call me his "daughts", always wanted me to stay a little longer; was there whenever I needed to talk to someone (even in the wee hours of the morning); and I soo miss that. There are soo many times I want to call him and talk to him and I can't.

He was my going out to eat buddy and we loved going to his favorite buffet where he'd be so proud to tranport himself in his chair after he couldn't get there with his cane anymore.

He used to love going for rides in my VW Volkswagen and out to visit Mom at the cemetary where he'd sit down and talk to her for a bit while I sat in the car.

Funny that there was always a Ladybug sitting on my car window somewhere when he'd go to leave as that was "Mom" telling us that she was with us and somehow that Ladybug stayed with us until a certain part of the highway..and then she'd fly away...it was always that certain part of the highway and Dad and I would say, "See you soon..don't hang from the rafters", as that was always Mom's way of telling us to behave ourselves throughout the years.

At least we still have that as everytime I leave Dad's room I tell him not to swing from the rafters..and as I walk out his door he calls out, "you neither!!"


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