sandiegorob Asked January 2010

How can I help my father deal with the frustration of being my mother's caregiver?

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After my Mom's brain injury, my Dad as become the caregiver. However, at times my Dad feels frustrated at this role he was put in. My Mom can be very difficult to deal with sometimes and has little motivation to do things herself. This only increases my Dad's frustration. He definitely needs some help with the caregiving duties, but is very stubborn ... I (the son) am not sure how best to help them. Both my parents are 70.

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack Jan 2010
Your dad probably thinks he should provide the care - it's a matter of pride for him. I think a third party could help. Do they have a spiritual leader such as a priest, Rabbi or pastor, who they trust? Do they have a good friend who can talk with them. What about your dad's doctor? He or she may be able to tell him that for his own health he needs help with his wife.

Once his defenses are down, he may be less prideful.
Thanks for caring so much,
Carol
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ezcare Jan 2010
I can identify very well with the situation you are in now. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in her late 70's and dad took it upon himself to be her full time caregiver. I (their son and only child) lived 2 hours away and worked 60+ hours per week. I adjusted my schedule so I could visit once a week to help with finances and renew prescriptions etc. In the early stages this worked out pretty well but as the disease, which dad never fully understood, took it's toll, dad became increasingly stressed and angry resisting any outside help--even mine. Mom's needs increased (she had always been very independent and self sufficient) but dad's ability and willingness to provide proper care diminished. Dad turned away neighbors who would gladly help if he allowed them to and also convinced the doctors that he was doing well because he made sure she kept all appointments and supervised her medication. To the outside world he appeared to be the model caregiver. But inside was another story. The house was filthy. They had 2 dogs that messed at will and my father was a pack rat who stored every piece of mail that entered the house and parts for cars and appliances that could only be found in the Smithsonian. At times you had to navigate through the debris just to get to the bathroom. At one point I contacted a Professional Homecare Agency to see if they might help. They offered to do a needs assessment but when I mentioned it to dad he went ballistic and said the dogs might bite any strangers who came to the house. (This was no idle threat since the dogs had to be locked in a bedroom when I visited)

At the time, I was completely unprepared to deal with this. No one I knew was in a similar situation and the Alzheimer's Association was just beginning to grow local chapters. A site like this would have been a blessing. That is why I encourage you to read through the responses you receive. We have been there and have learned from each other and from experts like Carol. Take what works and leave the rest. You are not alone in this journey.
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Health1 Jan 2010
I am also a spousal caregiver. Please have your dad visit www.wellspouse.org. It's been a lifesaver for me.
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sanityLost Jan 2010
I care for my Mom and caregiving is caregiving. The things that make it easier are; someone that bring by meals, or will prepare them in the house while I care for Mom, 1/2 hr to 1 hour of visits with Mom, so that I can clean the house or sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. Mom enjoys silly dollar store "surprises", Someone to read her poetry. I've started to motivate Mom to get out of the bed with a puzzle. Someone that will come by and do her nails, massage her feet, scratch her head. Looking around the house, you can see if they are low on supplies and just bring them by.

The trick is to see what time your mom is the most comfortable, so that your dad isn't entertaining you (or a visitor) and assisting your mom at the same time. A time when the visitor can visit or sit with mom so dad can have a little "me" time.

You're such a great son. I hope this is helpful.
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hapfra Jan 2010
I JUST READ YOUR QUESTION AND PERSONALLY I THINK THAT THERE IS NO ANSWER OTHER THAN TO TRY DIFFERENT WAYS TO GET YOU DAD TO UNDERSTAND --- IT ALSO IS IMPORTANT TO HIS OWN HEALTH AS WELL AS OTHERS HE DO THIS. FRUSTRATION I WOULD SAY IS A NEGATIVE, AND PERHAPS CAN LEAD TO REAL PHYSICAL ISSUES. LIKE CAROL SUGGESTED, HAVING A 3RD PARTY INTERVEIN, SOUNDS TO ME LIKE AN EXCELLENT IDEA TO OBTAIN THIS ADDITIONAL SUPPORT.

GOOD LUCK!

HAP
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hapfra Jan 2010
sorry about all caps--i did not realize it----and try to have a pleasant day--if possible!

hap
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lcs Jan 2010
Hi son sandie

First of all, thank you for being a son that cares.

You said that your parents are both 70 years of age. This means that your father's caregiving duties could go on and on and on and his frustration will just get worse and worse. He may realize this and wonder how he can face such a future. Does your mother have friends that could give your dad a break at least a couple of times a week? Would your dad allow you to look after your mom for at least part of a day so that he can "goof off"? If there are grown grandchildren near by, maybe they could pitch in once in a while too. Also, it sounds like Health1 has suggested a website that will be helpful.

Good luck to you and yours and please let us know what happens.
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