No real choice but to keep helping dad...

Started by

I haven't posted in a long time, but some of you may remember me. My husband and I have been helping my dad for four and a half years. He lived with us for nearly ten months while recovering from a serious illness and a fall. Then he lived in "independent" living for almost three years with a great deal of assistance from us. Toward the end of 2016, he took a bad fall and ended up spending several weeks in rehab, after which he moved into an assisted living apartment in the same senior residence. Well, history is repeating itself, but getting worse, because at the end of 2017, he took another, much more serious fall, and is in rehab again. I'm just about at the end of my rope. When he was in the hospital pre-rehab, I found myself thinking, "If I have a nervous breakdown, I won't have to take care of him any more," and it was an appealing thought. In 2017, he was hospitalized four times (including the hospitalization for this recent fall). Each hospitalization was preceded by an ER visit, of course. We also took him to numerous doctor appointments, spent lots of time on the telephone with the doctor's office, shopped for his clothes and other items, and took him on recreational outings. I'm exhausted, and I see the near future plainly: Dad needs my help in rehab. He has only one functional arm at the moment, and he can't walk. I'll have to visit him every day, regardless of how I'm feeling, both to provide practical assistance and to try to keep him from becoming depressed. No one else is going to help my husband and me with Dad's needs. My three siblings didn't even answer my e-mail about Dad being discharged from the hospital and going to rehab (although one of them is ill at the moment and might not have been well enough to respond). I've donated so much of my life to Dad, and I want to stop, but there is no real way to quit helping him.

12 Comments

I'm sorry to hear about your dad's fall and condition. Have they given him a diagnosis? What seems to be causing the falls? Does he have any physical or mental disabilities? Why can't he walk? Is his arm broken? What are the goals for his rehab?
The fall was the result of a temporary loss of balance. He has no mental disabilities--in fact, his doctors are amazed at his mental acuity. He can't walk because he's recovering from surgery to repair a broken hip. He wants to return to assisted living, and that's what we want for him, too.
Yes, his arm is broken. The doctor thinks that it will heal on its own in six weeks or less.
My first though is always, how would the rebab (or whatever) manage if there wasn't someone to come in? They must be equipped to deal with patients who don't have a family member to be there. WHat would happen if you visited one day and your husband the next? I hope it improves.
Oh, I see. Do they know what is causing the loss of balance? Have they checked for inner ear issue? Meds too strong? Blood pressure dropping? It could be any number of things. My LO had that too. It was horrible. Her balance was so poor that she would actually fall backwards while standing at her walker. I actually have caught her before she hit the floor. Hers were caused by strokes.

Her falls didn't let up until she went to a wheelchair. She actually had much more mobility in the wheelchair, as she could scoot all over the facility. Walking for he just became a series of falls, fractures, and pain.

 I hope they can find something to help your dad. Does he use a walker or cane?
He's been using a walker, but I think that he'll probably use the walker less and rely on a wheelchair after his recovery.
Is he having rehab come to him, or is he receiving it at his ALF? I wouldn't think you'd even need to be present for PT, the PT knows what they're doing.

Becoming completely worn out with care is not doing a service to anyone, your dad or you.

As for the sibs--until very recently, 23 of mine we MIA on care for Mother. It took a family meeting (which was absolutely awful) for them to realize that it's time NOW for them to step up. They'e been saying for YEARS "well, I'll come up and help when mom gets worse"...all the time hoping that the day never came. It came and went....after the family mtg, where the brother who carries the burden of mother's care was SO ANGRY and SO HOSTILE, it became quickly obvious that he needs help. He's having some kind of breakdown now, I don't know, but I'm sure it's due to exhaustion of dealing 24/7 with a querulous, aging, miserable person.

That's what it took for my sibs to go "oh, I guess I better help". They either will or won't. That "talk" is super hard to have--but your sibs need to step it up.
Dad is not at assisted living at the moment. He went directly from the hospital to rehab (subacute nursing). The issue with rehab is that unless a family member is there regularly, problems aren't resolved (or even discovered). Today I went over Dad's med list with the doctor and discovered an error (not the rehab's fault). I also was able to discuss my concerns about the possibility of Dad developing pneumonia if he spends too much time in bed. I can see that basic grooming is going to be an issue. I'll address it with the staff (believe me, I'm very tactful), but if they're unable to step up, I'll have to make a point of helping Dad brush his teeth daily. I may also have to shave him because there is no way he can do that himself. The rehab is supposed to provide assistance with those tasks (I asked about that when Dad was admitted), but I can't necessarily make that happen. When Dad goes back to assisted living, I won't have to help him with ADLs. The assisted living staff is excellent and takes very good care of the residents. As for help from my siblings . . . that won't happen. My brothers are thousands of miles away, and my sister (who lives less than two hours away) hasn't visited Dad once in four years (can we all say "dysfunctional family"?).
After my mom had a stroke and was in acute, then subacute rehab, I visited once a week. 30 years prior, when my grandma broke her hip, my mom visited once a week.

There is a choice here. You are allowed to visit as often, or as seldom as you choose. In my case, I had a job, a husband whose health needed tending and 100 miles between where I live and the rehab.

In my mom's case, she had small children and frankly, didn't enjoy being castigated by her mother for putting her in "such a place."

None of the rehab were perfect, but we were in touch frequently by phone and attended care meetings.
Angiejoy, I get it -- similar to the situation I had with Dad and siblings. I did all you listed and then some. And I visited every day, because I needed to for me. I couldn't stand that Dad was lonely or couldn't communicate his needs or perhaps staff wasn't as responsive enough to make him happy. It does take over your life, and I sure felt drained emotionally, physically and mentally. But Dad passed just after Christmas, and now I just want him back -- again, for me. You need to do what is right for you, your dad and your family. And I know it's hard to stop and it's hard to keep going. Only you know what your limit is.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support