My relationship with my teenage son is suffering terribly due to both of our caregiving roles for my 87-year-old father with dementia. Any advice?

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Your situation is sad, but all too common. We who have elders and are raising children at the same time often have to make many hard choices.

Please remember that your son has needs. Coping with a parent who has Alzheimer's is so draining, that it's sometimes it may be hard to see that this is stressful for your son, as well. He is watching his grandfather deteriorate, plus he is getting less attention from his parent. Both are hard. He's also in a very self-centered stage of life, which makes it even harder for everyone.

I'd suggest some counseling for you both - preferably joint counseling. I know that sounds impossible - it would to me. However, even a spiritual leader's advice, or a few hours of paid therapy just to clear the air could help.

I feel there is little that is more painful for us than to have to choose between the needs of a parent who is going through life with dementia, and our children's needs. Do try to remember that your son's future could be affected greatly by this, so if you need more help with your dad through paid services so you can spend more time with your son, then please try to do it.

Our hearts are with you. keep in touch when you can,
Carol
Well, I eventually had to place my father in a nursing home, and miraculously all has worked out well. I was so "anti-nursing home," but I spent a great deal of time researching them, asking around, and visiting several. I finally found one that is in a rural area, and they have taken excellent care of my father, and he is actually doing better than when I had him at home. The down side is that it is a 1 1/2 hour drive to and from the nursing home I chose, and I try to see him twice a week, but always once a week no matter what. I also call frequently to check on him. The up-side of having him in that particular facility is that I don't have to worry about him constantly. He is always clean, smiling, and never gets upset when I leave. I finally came to the conclusion that even though my son learned valuble lessons about caring for my dad, and what showing love thru actions/compassion is all about, it was just too stressful on us both. He and I both were getting more frustrated than we should over an illness my poor father has no control over. Fatigue and stress takes its toll, and after years of caring for "an adult infant," we were close to our breaking point. Another thing that I would like to add is that I went into the nursing home experience with the understanding that NOTHING is permanent. Had he not done well or if I felt they weren't caring for him as they should, I could always bring him back home or transfer to another facility. Realizing that placement does not have to be permanent helped me a lot to at least try and see if I could lessen everyone's stress levels, and get my Dad the good care he deserved. I learned that it is not being uncaring to put a loved one in a nursing home...as long as they are cared for well, there is no hint of neglect nor abuse, and they seem to be thriving. The socialization has been good for him, and many people are now doing the job that just my son and I had been doing. It is not a weakness to be stressed, frustrated, and just plain worn out. It's reality. I hope you both can find a solution that is good for all involved. I know it is heartwrenching.
When my mom was caring for my aunt who had cancer-her sister-I had just turned 13-she was so involved with grief and caregiving my own mother forgot my birthday-I felt very unimportant-I even wished it was me who was sick,so she would pay attention to me.Even though I loved my aunt-I needed quality time with my mother-she and I grew apart after that-we never rebounded,some say I rebeled and acted out-all I know is nothing was ever the same.While I was caring for my mate and my dad who were dying,I was also taking care of a young daughter ,I thought of my mother and her prediciment often-I explained to my daughter all of this and asked her opinion-even though her life was far from normal,I bent over backwards to try to create memerable moments so she would not feel slighted or less than or unimportant-Even though it is of great honor in what you are doing-young people need to know they are valued-do something awesome together-just the two of you-don't let him or her forget how important they are-they grow up to quick.
To be blunt, your son is going to be around longer than your dad, so look after your relationship with your son, and don't take it for granted or make him wait until his grandfather is dead to feel like he's a priority with you. If you do that he won't see it as a great example of love; he's going to experience it as being unloved himself. The great opportunity here is to practice thinking together: "how can WE.... etc??" You're taking a great step just by asking your question. Try asking him, too!
Tennesse, your advice is great, too, it wasn't up when I commented on the wonderful advice prior to mine.
Your tenn-aged son should not be involved in a caregiving role for your 87 year-old father who has dementia.

The only thing that your son should be doing for him is reading to him, walking with him and perhaps an occasional meal-giving procedure, such as spoon feeding. No diaper changing, no lifting, no med applications, no bathing, no dressing.

Parobbie - When u say, "both of your care giving roles" Do u mean u and your son are care givers or you and your husband are care givers? My answer would be different between the two questions. I will wait to try and answer until that question is cleared up. Sorry ! Dane
MindingOurElders gave wonderful advice-I agree. Also, remember you can choose to prepare opportunities for the positive to come through. Your son is getting a great example of love. How old is he? I have a ten yr. old boy,a five yr.old girl. I recently had to care for my parent-mostly solo. It was hard but I made certain to put God first and create special time for family. Spend time doing something with him you normally wouldn't. Do you cook-have him join you. Asking a child's opinion has great value for them. You may disagree with his response, but at least you are inclusive. Both of you can decide how to create time for your relationship-it's about keeping closeness at a time that can be very demanding for you, I know going to the mall was a big treat for my kids when I would get home from the hospital and all the other care;I was drained, but turned it into a time that I accepted that I needed too. Changing a few words from 'for my son' to 'with my son' might create a level of interest where you both have something to look forward to. I did not waste one minute feeling guilty for my absence. If infact your son is the other caregiver-wow! What a son you have. Even if he is reluctant-he's still helping-I commend him. Perhaps you have to be specific about what he does to care for his grandparent. Most kids scoff at taking the trash out-taking care of an adult-thats BIG. My prayers are with you both. -new41
It's hard enough raising a teen under 'normal' conditions. I have a son who will turn 16 this May. We are constantly under stress with tests, extra-curricular activities, you name it. It seems there isn't enough time in the day for one decent fleshed-out conversation. I can't imagine all of that regular stuff with the added emotional and physical stress of caring for an elderly parent. You are a wonderful daughter, that's for sure. In our case, my mother, who is in the beginning stages of Dementia but still lives on her own, has decided that she hates my son, my husband, and now me, and she hasn't spoken to my son for a year. I personally haven't spoken to my mom since last summer. My sister is now caring for her bills, etc.. My son really loves his grandmother, so he is terribly hurt by this situation. He has a different kind of stress from your son's situation. I really respect Minding, Dane, and New's advice for you. They are all excellent. As for my advice, I am sure that you have probably already told your son what I am about to write; it's what I would do. I would put myself in my son's shoes and imagine what he is thinking, and it's surely about how unfair it is that his friends seem to have great lives compared to him, and that his friends parents probably seem more relaxed, calm, and have time for their kids, and so on. I would take him aside, as you probably have, and tell him how much you LOVE and APPRECIATE him. I would tell him that just as most of his friends do not have this emotional hardship in their lives, the same goes for you - most of your friends may not have taken on this kind of personal responsibility for a parent as you have. I would reiterate to him that it's out of respect and love for your father that you are caring for him (which I'm sure you have told him many times). What other reason could there be? The point is to let your son know that you understand completely what he feels because you feel it too. Tell him, if you are at all religious, that God sees how kind and caring you both are to your dad in his time of need. It's character -building and something that your son can write about in his college application letters. Perhpaps he can come up with creative plans to help your dad pass time during the day in fun ways. That way, your son would see positive results from his efforts. Good luck to you and your wonderful family.
I would suggest getting some extra help from an out side sourc if it is affordable oftn times its a strain on loved ones who care for family members with dementia but if you are willing t have some extra hands in this process please feel free to let me know

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