Now I know why caregivers get burnout.

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Dad moved in 8 months ago after mom died mainly due to finance and loneliness (OK mainly finance). He wanted to get knee replacement surgery. My sister the RN (who lives many hours away) said he should. I wanted him to lose weight first. Anyhow, be pushed and found a doc to do it (I let him set this up on his own hoping they would not do it) Fast forward to this week. He had surgery Monday, my sister came in for 2 days, then went home. All the time giving me orders. While at the hospital tells the nurses she is one and telling them what he should be doing..... Yeah that went over well. Hence to say they were happy to see her go too. I'm an EMT, it means I can put a band aid on you and help keep you alive to get to the hospital, after that the pros are in change of their own place, so I know what and when to keep my mouth shut and just ask the right questions. Now dad is in rehab. So i have got no work done all week, (lots of snow to move) and run back and forth to the hospital, now rehab, get him his breakfast and dinner (didn't like the hospital food) manage my business and take care of my house! Now it is the phone calls "can you bring me this?" He did not do the 2 pre-op meetings on what to expect, he did not pack any belongings for rehab. He just showed up for surgery and expected everything to be done for him....... Typical, mom did everything for him, pack make plans etc..... So now I have to pack his clothes, walker, prep my house (already did with a previous senior living w me). But there was no pre-planning on his part. He got his shave kit and some underwear out on his bed pre-hospital so I guess that constitutes packing? I told him I would not be making meals for him, the place has good food. He wanted special coffee which I got for him on the way to rehab to make him comfortable when he got there. Oh did i mention I had to arrange his transportation (wheel chair van showed up and we needed an ambulance) and visit and pick the rehab sites for him that he should have done previously? This is a man who a year ago was running his remodeling company with subs and customers and billings...... He has no medical or mental issues, he only moved due to money and being lonely. So my day is getting my wife off to school, run my business, do the shopping, cooking (lots of eating out this week) and tend to him and trying to earn a living. He did not do any physical prep so he is way behind in getting up and about. I am taking the hard approach that "this was your choice, you have to get the motivation to get out of rehab, you have to want this , it is up to you to get out of bed and walk". Yeah I know I am being tough love but I have to. My sister arrived and he just melted, all of a sudden he couldn't walk. When she is around he cant do anything. Different when its me and him because I don't do everything, I will assist when it is absolutely necessary but he can do it. So she left me with everything "I have to go back to work, if you need anything I can come in and be there" Like I need another person in my house to treat like a hotel guest.... or "Dad can stay with me for a few months"..... It will last 3 days as he and my BIL do not really like each other... so she knows it will not happen. I had no clue when I offered to house my dad, don't get me wrong I am not unhappy he is here as it is my duty but even with him ambulatory it is still a lot of work. Day 3 he says, once this heals I will get the other knee done........ He was not happy when I said, lets wait a year and see how things go...... I have to have a life here or we wont have a place to live! SO to all the care givers I feel your pain! My siblings get a fee ride..... I do daily emails to the family to keep them aware of his status. I got one phone call from my brother (the oldest) after surgery then promptly hung up as dad called him at the same time, My sister called because she left something at my house I had to ship home to her and that she was going to call the nurses to tell her how much meds to give my father because "she does this for a living", since then nothing.... To all the care givers I reach out and give you hugs...... because on this end there is nothing.......

42 Comments

tgengine, it sounds like you're going through a challenging time. We do so much, but end up feeling like we're so mean because we don't do more. But we know if they don't use it, they'll lose it. So the caregiver has to stay a bit tough, with everyone else looking on like "you're so mean."

Your dad sounds like a determined man. I hope you can get him to wait a while on the other knee.
So, when rehab starts talking to you both about discharge, you ask discharge planners about Independent/assisted living facilities. Your house/life/family are not well suited to having someone as self-centered and non-electric aware as dad is. If he goes to a facility, he will likely be the life of the party and maybe even find a lady friend to lay out his clothes. Stand firm on this. My opinion only, of course.
The thing that crosses my mind is "reasonable". Is a particular request, expection, behavior reasonable. Bringing him a food that he likes when you're going to visit is reasonable, taking meals twice a day is not. People think when you're working from home or self employed that you have the latitude to drop everything during the day. Work is work, regardless of location. Someone once told me that when you're self employed, you can work parttime - any 12 hours a day you want.

I wouldn't be concerned about your sister trying to tell the nurses what to do - they know how to handle people like that.

And I agree with babalou's suggestion - it's easiest (by no means easy) to transition from rehab than home.



Went over w dad today, spent about 2 1/2 hours. Took his clothes, he had all sorts of intake questions. Did some PT for about 20 feet. Its a lot of work for him. He will get through this, it will take longer than he thinks. After I vented my aunt sent me a very nice email, it was very timely and well received, I was having a tough day with all of this. It will get better. I told him I will be back in the AM, I need some reprieve tonight and get some work done.He will settle in. He has a nice room with a view of the mountain and snow so its not that bad a place! The food is good and the people are very nice! I am good with where he is at. I did notice whether it is the meds but he is having some issues remembering things, I am sure it is all confusing. I'd like him to do some things that take brain function. The activity person was in but he is not really interested. So I have to find things to occupy his mind. Lots to do, right now I need a break................
He's in rehab. They are taking care of him. Give yourself a breather, dear.
tgengine, sounds like you were on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride... take a deep breath. Now make a list for things you are doing for Dad and cross off half of those items. Yes, sometimes we need to use tough love, I am trying to do that with my parents. Oh my gosh, your Dad's recovery will probably take him a year, it takes longer the older one is, and since he is overweight, it's going to be a long climb for him. He might think twice about the other knee.

If surgery was just on Monday, your Dad will have brain fog for awhile. For every hour under, it will take a month to clear. If surgery was 3 hours, 3 months for the fog to lift. If your Dad is concerned about how his mind is reacting, tell him that is normal after surgery.
So we are into week 2, dad is still in rehab. His sugars have been up and down. For the first week he was like a baby not being able to do anything. He tends to try to do thing on his own but a mess ensues.... This AM he called, he used his urinal on his own "didn't realize" it was full and proceeded to dump it all over him and his bed. So he calls me to go get him new clothes. I have brought him 2 weeks worth of clothes! They are there. In the middle of a 2 foot snow storm where he can clearly see traffic moving slowly outside. He wants me to buy him new cloths and bring them. So after getting all my stuff together and plowing 2 driveways (Not my own yet mind you) I got new clothes and low and behoid he was wearing what we bought him before. But i did notice he is really good now at getting people to bring him his food to his bed vs going to the dining room where everyone else is. He got right back in bed after I got there at 11 AM vs being in his wheel chair to eat lunch and making demands on people to get him things. He is in my mind getting out of control and not making things better for himself. He said the "the PT was h*ll this AM", "Good I said, that is what it is supposed to be".

My concern is that he is melding into this everyone will do it for me and getting used to the wheel chair and bed.
I figured the sugars had something to do with it over the weekend. Should I be concerned to have a mental health pro talk with him to see why he is avoiding working this out?
I have motioned to family to call him and friends. I am just afraid that he will not take this seriously and I will be the one who will be doing all of this in the future. Is this normal after knee replacement? The 94 yo that had his done the same day is itching to get out and going. I see him sliding backwards....... I see him once a day, I call him once a day or he calls me. Not sure what to do here.
Dad seems to be doing a little better, looks like he will be there for 4 weeks. TBH, even tho I am running there every day and doing his laundry and taking him some food things have been pretty much normal around the house. My wife and I can relax a bit and even the dogs are chilling! It is amazing how much just one person can change a house hold. My wife wants me to see if he can go to my sisters for a month this summer. Hopefully we can arrange that. I love my dad I really do but the past year and a half has been tremendous and I am enjoying a bit of free time before things go back to "normal"? I would like to take my wife away for a couple days while he is in rehab. I know he will be just fine but I don't have any family here to visit him while I am gone. Should I ask a couple friends he knows to visit him while I am gone? The only outstanding issues is part of his PT/OT is doing things for himself. He is dressing and cleaning himself but when I get there he tends to revert and I have to be the tough guy and make him do it himself.I guess this is all part of it..... Anyway thanks for all the support, it is nice to vent and get smart advice when there is no around that understand!
I think this is an opportunity to reset the boundaries you have established with your dad. You need to make it clear that things are going to be different going forward, that he needs to work hard in rehab because you will no longer be catering to his every whim and you expect him to contribute to his own care. Make it clear that if he refuses to change his behaviour then he can't come back, plain and simple. This time away has given you the opportunity to see just how much his presence in your home has affected your family.
The first thing you might consider is how much you NEED to do vs how much you THINK you should do. Often, when we care for our parents, we seem to fall into the old "If I do everything you want of me, you'll love me" mode of our childhood. Unless they have dementia(meaning their mental capabilities are no longer 100% functioning adult), our parents are still adults and should do everything for themselves that they possibly can. Your father should be able to get his own meals, or come to the table to have meals with you. He should be able to do his own laundry or at least help with it. I don't care if your mom did that for him before. He's an adult. My mother plays the 'I can't do anything" card with my sister BECAUSE MY SISTER LETS HER DO IT. My mom does not pull the same garbage on me anymore, although she did at first because I didn't see what was happening. And my mom is just as happy to see me after I set the boundaries. Your dad can manage for a few days without you visiting. Or anyone visiting. He can call his own friends and if they want to visit, they can. You aren't required to put your entire life on hold (especially while he is being taken care of by someone else-go play!) While he is in rehab, if he calls you about ANYTHING, ask one of the nurses/caregivers there if he needs whatever that is. None of us gets everything we want, when we want it, exactly how we want it. It's life. You are not required to be at his beck and call, unless you desire to do so. Your mileage may vary.

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