G0ld3n Asked January 2011

What options are available for a stressed out caregiver?

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My dad is 61 years old and currently taking care of his parents in his home. I'm concerned about his wellbeing (and theirs) because being their caregiver is really taking a toll on him. Part of the problem is that he thinks that he needs to take on all of their care by himself. While a caregiver comes in a couple times a week to bathe my grandpa, she's about the only outside help that he'll accept.
Friends of the family have offered to sit and visit with my grandparents to give my dad a chance to have a couple hours to himself outside of the house, and I've even offered to give him a break when I'm visiting. I've also suggested that we look into the local senior center/senior day care program so that my grandparents can have some social interaction with other seniors and my dad can take a much needed break.
My dad rejects all of these ideas because he is worried that my grandpa will either fall while he is out of the house, that my grandpa will be cruel and lash out while at the senior center (which is a possibility; I am at a loss as to what to do in this situation. I believe that something needs to change and fast, for the health of everyone involved, but I don't know what steps to take.
my grandpa does have a history of lashing out at people, including my dad), or that my grandma will be too sick to enjoy the senior center (she does get carsick easily). I've also suggested that my dad join a caregivers' support group so that he can at least vent some of his frustrations and share his stories in a community that can empathize/share meaningful advice. He attended one support group and hasn't gone back, citing previously mentioned reasons about not wanting to leave the house for too long.
I am at a loss as to what to do in this situation. I believe that something needs to change and fast, for the health of everyone involved, but I don't know what steps to take.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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ambsmith Mar 2012
Your dad may be afraid that if he puts down this burden, he won't be able to pick it up again. He may also be afraid that getting help would somehow dishonor his own father. The Biblical commandment is to "honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the earth."

You might start by telling him he's shortening his "days upon the earth" by refusing to accept help when it is offered. Let him know that accepting help can be a gift to those who offer it, as well.

You might also talk to his doctor and your grandad's doctor. One or the other (preferably grandad's doctor) could be encouraged to tell your dad that taking care of himself is a way of taking care of grandad. He's no good to grandad if his own health, mental or physical, gives way.

As for grandad lashing out - for professional caregivers it's no big deal. They are trained to expect it and to deal with it courteously and firmly. It's even possible that being exposed to people in his own condition or in a worse condition will give him some perspective on how to behave.

Look at your own situation. You are the well one here. Don't allow yourself to be swept into this vortex of illness because you fail to think through the consequences of your actions on your own health. The first thing to decide is whether you are willing to be "the caregiver" instead of "the daugher." It is NOT a sin to decide for the later. Then take the steps to see that it happens.
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diavalon12 Mar 2012
Burn out can and does in some cases result in senior abuse. Most times it is done without even the slightest intent. Abuse can come in different forms one of them is to keep them isolated even in the fear of Dad lashing out at someone else.
Ask him to please consider respite care which can be paid for through Medi-cal and for up to 5 days at a time. Most nursing homes have this program and will allow your dad a breath of fresh air, and your grandparents can be cared for by people who work with seniors everyday and he would not have to worry about them having the best care. I work for a nusing home and we admire families that
are trying to keep their family members at home for as long as possible but lets all face it we are only human.It's one of the hardest decisions to put your life on hold and to care for the aging parent. You really don't have to do this alone. Ask their doctor about respite care. Good luck and may God Bless.
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jontur Mar 2012
He needs to accept help somehow, some way. I beg my family for help but get nothing but excuses so the hard part is done. now you have to find some way for your dad to accept that help
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MiaMadre Jan 2011
My apologies... my answer above was meant for another post!! I am so sorry...

But I do agree with the Pirate FAMILY HELP SHOULD BE WELCOMED! If he won't listen to you (the daughter) have someone his own age (a priest, friend, uncle) talk to him and set up a schedul to HELP OUT!!
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MiaMadre Jan 2011
LUVMOM: One (important) word of caution about using an antibiotic as a preventive every day..... she will build up a resistance to the 'antibiotic' and if she gets an infection that requires an antibiotic, it will take one that is stronger to combat any NEW infection.

Why not look into the use of D-mannose (I have posted this natural product many times).

Please consider this ok? I am not a doctor/nurse but
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PirateQueen Jan 2011
You were already on the right track with you and family helping and increasing the time with a caregiver. Those are your best options. Sit your dad down and show him some of the topics here about caregiver burnout...tell your dad THAT IT IS A REALITY ABOUT CAREGIVER BURNOUT. He needs to take a breather...it will take a toll on your psyche and physical well being, and then if he's sick he cannot take care of them at all. I would if I were you say...hey dad how about you and 'whomever' going to dinner or a show and I will sit with grandpa and grandma for the eve..start small.
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