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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?

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Then we are going to get the carpet cleaned...........yea, right. If I could get dad out of the house for even one day I could really ripp through the joint, but other than going to krogers he won't leave mom at all. Plus I'd have to be there to direct any projects. I've had to accept some lower standards at the old home place. I ain't no Martha Stewart but I like to get the Stanley steamer guys in every decade or so. I tell myself the place doesn't stink yet, mom and dad still pass the elder sniff test, they have food, heat, ac, working smoke and canon monoxide detectors and I've installed every grab handle and assistance known to mankind. But ya know, it bothers me when I get wind of some totally unhelpful neighbors making comments about that son who lives in MI not taking care of m and d. These same folks are always full of advice. They live 75 feet away but they're just too busy to check on m & d once in awhile. Sorry....Kinda got to ranting there.......
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Windy, good luck with getting a new sofa... my parents wanted to see every sofa in every store on the east coast :P
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Mallory, the mattress has been replaced. I went to mattress warehouse and ordered one to be delivered. Dad asked why that big truck was driving up. I said that's the new mattress you ordered for mom. He said he musta forgot that he did. TaDa! New mattress! Now for a new sofa.
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THANKS TXCAMPER...
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20 year old . mattress ! Ewwww! Tell him you sold it on Craigslist and the new one is coming same day?
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via,
im not or was ever a captain but i did spend three years as a soldier in coldwar germany . ( us army ) 1976 - 1979 . i do / did not like the military life but i sincerely appreciate the medical care that the va affords me now . its extremely good care despite a few bad stories coming out of a few va hospitals .
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Tx camper. You hit the nail on the head! You are right. Every day is a new day.
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No, Scott, we all get mad and want to scream, so don't feel snakebit. It's just that some of us have learned methods to deal with it, whatever works. It's not the same for everyone. Some of us roll our eyes and smile, some of us walk away for a minute, some of us drink probably, and some of us complain about it on here and get sympathy and good advice whether we want it or not.

Every dementia sufferer isn't the same or needing the same level of care. There is a saying that when you've met one person with dementia, you've met one person.

I wish that we could turn off our emotions at times. There are times when I want to cry because it's not fair that my dear, sweet, loving mother in law is now this angry, forgetful, sad faced, incontinent shell of her former self. There are times when she doesn't want a shower but she needs one that I want to just hurry through it businesslike to get it over with. There are times when she puts her unwashed hands in the cookie jar or plate of food that I get frustrated. Sleep should be a blissful end to a stressful day, but instead I'm listening with one ear open for her to get out of bed and go to the bathroom (in case she falls). It's just so undignified for her. We love her so much, and at the same time dread the days ahead.

Oh, to be a robot. But mom doesn't need a robot. She needs a loving family to help her navigate this part of her life. And we are striving to be just that. But we are human, and what worked yesterday doesn't necessarily work today, so everyday is a new day. Gosh I didn't mean to go on and on, I must have more feelings about this subject than I thought. Thank God for friends and family to help keep us sane, even if getting together is twice or three times more work and not always a happy ending. Sending love and best wishes to all of you!
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WELL I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL AS IM IN YOUR SAME POSITION.MY MOM IS UP ONE DAY AND DOWN THE NEXT.I HAVE LEARNED TO TRY AND ADJUST TO MY MOMS TRAIN OF THOUGHT BUT ITS HARD.MANY TIMES I CATCH MYSELF GETTING MAD AT TIMES WHEN SHE WONT EAT WHAT I THINK SHE SHOULD EAT BUT I HAVE TO TRY AND UNDERSTAND SHES OLDER AND HER STOMACH IS SMALLER THAN MINE.I SOMETIMES GET SO MAD I HAVE TO SCREAM BUT THEN FEEL SORRY FOR MY THOUGHTS LATER.THOSE THAT TELL YOU THAT YOU SHOULD NOT GET MAD HAS NOT BEEN IN THIS POSITION OF DEALING WITH THOSE WITH DEMENTIA.PEOPLE ARE HUMAN AND JUST CANT TURN OFF EMOTIONS IT IS IMPOSSIBLE.THE BEST YOU CAN DO IS WORK DAY TO DAY.AS FAR AS YOU BEING 10 HOURS AWAY THAT SEEMS LIKE ALONG WAY.I WISH YOU THE BEST.ITS GREAT TO ALWAYS HERE FROM OTHERS IN THIS SAM BOAT.
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I have a friend who is an AF veteran. He and his wife live in an assistant living in Washington state. I haven't seen him in years, but we kept in contact via Christmas cards and now Email. I met his wife when my first husband was stationed in Tacoma, WA and he was stationed at McChord, AFB. We were always just friend, so his wife became a friend too. He tells me that the place is not too good. The food especially. As much as he is paying, his retirement and VA benefits, it should be top notch. I don't know what someone can do once they go into an assistant living place and it is not to their liking. Any Idea?
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Windy, your parents and my parents should meet.... they have so much in common when it comes to updating things around the house. My parents could easily update things around the house and enjoy it... but being they are children of the depression they won't part with anything unless it totally falls apart and can't be fixed with duct tape or a few new nails, then it becomes good fire wood for the fireplace :P
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I was a type A controlling person before becoming the main caregiver for my wife. She was diagnosed seven years ago as having probable Alzheimer's disease. I found the book "36 Hours Day" , this column and others to be very helpful. The Internet is a good place to get useful information. Also, morning meditation and prayer may fill the bill.
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I think all the answers were very good. So far at 83, I live in an Independent Sr apartment. My daughter takes me to the VA appointments and to the store. I am on Meals on Wheels, which are OK.
This question is for Captain. Were you in the military? If so when and where.
I was enlisted so I never dated any commissioned men, but the men I did date were always gentlemen. Unfortunately, the man I married did a 180 after we married, but that is another story.
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I commend you for your post. Nothing is easy and nothing is black and white. Use your skills from your career to your advantage and find others to help where you are not as skilled. If you are a good organizer and planner, then get to work on those items - otherwise, hire it out. Get all of the administrative work done so you have more bandwidth for the other care requirements. I have met several alpha males, primarily veterans, who have made the transition nicely because the are genuinely good people.
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Should say, Not worth the battle.........sorry
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Pam, like the way you think. I'm up for any trickery to get dad to agree to anything! With dad it's, "We just got that mattress, carpet cleaned, sofa, air conditioner, range the other day. They come up here in a big yellar truck. It was that Johnson boy you went to school with". The sofa has been there since I was in high school and I'm 60!! Mom and I have learned to pick our battles. I guess the damn sofa will last another year or so. It's just worth the battle sometimes. And freq is right. Our roles change. Sometimes it takes a little alpa action to make things happen and other times we need to just shut up for a few minutes and listen and learn. Some men probably need to be less assertive and some women need to be more assertive in caregiving roles.
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Thanks to all for your kind responces. I appreciate what I love mom said about assisted living. That is my goal. I'm just trying to make the correct judgement as to when is the right time for the move. I have visited some places in WV near my folks and found one I think they would like. I have a cousin whose an RN with years of experience in elder care. She has been a great resource for me the last couple of years. Unfortunately. She also is 5 hours away from m and d. After doing well for sometime mom seems to be slipping with her meals and insulin so I'll be going down soon and staying for awhile . It'll be my spring break! Mom will discuss al, while dad with dementia, is impossible to deal with. I'm kinda waiting to see who needs care first. Mom with her medical needs or dad with memory care. Thanks to all for letting me chat about our issues here. WR
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Windyridge, I went from the opposite of being a shy woman to being more Alpha as I found that was the only way to get my parents to pay attention... I hated changing roles like that, but crying wasn't working. If I was their son instead of their daughter, they probably would be paying attention, but I am an only child.

When I read about the battle of the mattress, boy could I relate. I went around and around with my parents on that one.... finally they agreed to take the mattress from the guest room bed and switch it out with their old one. They hadn't have guest stay over in the past 15 years, so why not.

Cleaning? Forget that, I tried to gift to my Mom a cleaning service and Mom was insulted. Oops, never mind.

Even today when I delivered their groceries [I do it on-line and pick up the already packed groceries from the store] my Dad said they would starve if it wasn't for me.... nope, Dad, you would be living in Ashby Ponds retirement village and taking the community bus to the grocery store daily or you would be ordering on-line and having home delivery.... [sigh].
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my parents fought me all the way about any changes, until they couldn't do for themselves...but once i make a change...they could see the benefits for them...and were always happy. my uncle could afford to live in an assisted living home...and it was beautiful! they had his own apt, nice dining area...had help with cleaning...and eventually they had a staff that helped him when he got really ill. It is very expensive....but if they own their home...it might be nice for them. you should check them out...there are some very nice ones.
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WindyRidge, you may have to change your approach a bit. Let me say as a wife of 43 years, that the way to win with Dad is to convince him that all the good ideas are his. Oh, that is devious psychological warfare, but it works.
You might want to get mom some antidepressants and definitely some time away from him. Dad is entering the angry phase of dementia. He knows he is forgetful and that makes him anxious. Anxiety meds may help him. So would a fishing trip, if he is so inclined. Even after being married a long time, a little vacation from each other can be very restorative.
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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.
"Elgarose"
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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i could take out an armored division with a drinking straw and a styrofoam coffee cup is what im sayin .
( sharpening laser ice pick )
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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.
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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.
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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 .
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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.
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