Calling all guys out there! Anyone transition from alpha male to compassionate caregiver lately?

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I don't consider myself a classic alpa-typeA-aggressive type guy but for most of my working life I was sort of the lead dog, giving orders and having it done my way. I'm now 60, recently retired and due to tragic circumstances have become the sole caregiver for my parents. I should clarify that currently, I'm keeping up with things long distance and making the ten hour trip to my parents as various issues and crises develop. I make no claim to be a caregiver in the sense that many others are, living with their elders or taking elders into their homes. I've had to learn lots of practical stuff and also change my lead dog attitude. Dad with his dementia just doesn't respond well to me barking orders. Mom with depression over dads dementia cries a lot. I'm making changes in the way I relate and understand their many problems but I still have a ways to go. Any thoughts out there? Similar situations?


Why are you 10hrs. away? I would move them closer to you. As they age, the problems they have will increase by leaps and bounds, and you can't trust all caregivers. Empathy will be your best tool to change your attitude. I watched my brothers make the transition, and I could not be more proud of them. My two brothers that live near my mom have very hectic, confusing lives, but they both went from being totally wrapped up in their own lives, to visiting my mom everyday and showering her with love and attention.
my sister didnt do well at caring for my mom in moms final months because she kept trying to take control . your parents are going to become near helpless and the best thing you can do for them is listen closely to their concerns and let them retain control of their home . switch places with them in your head . if my sons ever tried to tell me whats best for me , gravity itself would probably cease to function .
Does anyone like having orders barked at them? I don't think so. Try taking on the role of advocate. First, listen to your parents and try your best to see their perspective and hear what they say they need. Then, advocate on their behalf to see that their needs are met, and that they have the best quality of life possible.
Windy, a type A personality will be very difficult in a caregiving role. It can be used to advocate for your folks. A sole caregiver needs to be more connected to your folks. How do you kniw if they are giving you all information needed so you can help them effectively? I would consider hiring a Geriatric Care Manager for them that would complete an assessment of their care needs and make recommendations and develop a care plan. I am not saying you cannot do this from a distance but you need help from others that have first hand knowledge of the situatoin.
i could take out an armored division with a drinking straw and a styrofoam coffee cup is what im sayin .
( sharpening laser ice pick )
Thanks for the replies. Yes, put myself in their situation is right. But it's hard to do as their judgement declines and I have no choice but to take over. I am also trying to keep them in their home for as long as it is safe to do so. Mom just had a fall yesterday. No injuries but this is a problem. They've been doing very well for the past two months but this can change in a moment. Due to a variety of circumstances my folks will have to stay in their home town. I spent whatever amount of time necessary , days, weeks, months, down home taking care of things. I'm retired and my wife is very understanding of the situation. With dads dementia any home health care, cleaning, even replacing moms 20 year old mattress is a battle. I've learned to not even attempt to discuss these thing with dad . We just do what has to be done and he either accepts it or b*tches and then forgets by the next day.
Windy, my brothers and I thought keeping my mom in her home for as long as possible was best too. I had 24hr. care there living in her home for five years. Problem after problem and I lived 5 hours away. Finally I decided to check out assisted living, best thing I ever did for her. It was wonderful for her and us too. I no longer had to worry about medications, bathing, sleep walking, doctor appointments, hair appointments, caregiver problems, shopping and the list goes on. It was a charming place and the care was far better than the in-home services. My brothers and I now wish we did it five years earlier. After I found the gorgeous apartment, we took my mom there several times and she thought it was very nice, but didn't want to go. Did the same thing with my mother-in-law and she didn't want to go either. Their homes were no longer safe enough for them. The care was exceptional and they both adapted well. They had images of dingy old nursing homes in their minds, but it was nothing like that. We decorated with their own furnishings and pictures on the walls. The daily entertainment is awesome! They sat in a lovely dining room and ordered off a menu or could have room service, daily housekeeping, two nurses on staff everyday, a doctor made house calls, they did her laundry, daily housekeeping and there was a coffee bar that turned into a happy hour bar every day at 4:00 with a singing piano player doing oldies. There were many couples living there. I too needed to do what had to be done, it's not easy. After finding the places, I arranged for the moving companies to come and they were in after a few hours (I got them out of the house for those hours). When they ask about going home I tell them, it's just not safe enough. You sound like a wonderful son and you're doing a great job! For an alpha-male you have a real sensitive side or you wouldn't be on this website!
I don't see a type a personality as a problem but a blessing. You can see what your parents need and get it done. The only thing I would point out is the manner in which you do these things. Usually once an elderly person falls, expect more falls in the future. Use walker, remove rugs and odd things on the floor but do not rearrange furniture. Think you should have a plan ready to go at a moments notice. Things can change overnight. Good luck.
I don't have any idea where you are in terms of faith, and truly don't want to offend you or anyone else, but what's worked for me is taking the servant-leader approach with my inlaws that was modeled by Jesus Christ. By setting myself aside, I became with my wife their "prime ministers" while allowing them to remain "king and queen." They told us what they wanted or needed and we made sure it got done in the best way. Meanwhile, my wife and I quietly took on whatever they also needed but would not say or necessarily agree to - like fixing this or cleaning that or replacing something else. One of the biggest things they needed was their dignity. I found that by upholding that dignity - making sure my FIL had cash in his wallet even if he had no place to spend it, for instance - went a long way. You can still be the alpha-type, but you have to be covert and extremely gentle and patient about it.
To Windyridge: Kudos to you for at least reaching out for help/understanding. But first, you must get over yourself. I speak to you from personal experience as the "sole caregiver" for my wife. You will receive several suggestions on narrowing the distance to your parents, so this missive won't address that. If you are to be the sole caregiver, then hold on to your "alpha" pants. Life as you once knew it, will come to a gradual, if not screaming stop. It will be a gut-check for you. You must swallow your pride and lessen your swagger in favor of learning all you can about Dementia/Alzheimer's. You must re-learn the words patience, innovation and understanding. You should immediately start reading all posts from this website, and immerse yourself in any information concerning this debilitating disease. Learn what's important and relative to your parents, not necessarily to you. Take your own image down a couple of notches....I had to out of necessity. There will be many examples of your parents not following your orders. It might be a newsflash to you, but until you get onboard with proven methods of care, such orders might be irrelevant...make them suggestions with love, compassion and innovation. Buy the book "36 Hour Day, 4th Edition"...and last of all, "I order you" to also take care of yourself in your new-found humility; best of luck, and my God keep you in the palm of his hand.

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