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I am constantly repeating myself asking my Dad to stop stacking wet firewood with the dry, we recently had our chimney cleaned again there was so much creosote. Smoke was in the house every time my Dad lit the stove, I was having troubles breathing this was happening for months I would open the door and say holy crap its really smoky in here do you see the smoke he would say no I don't see any. Anyways today he was stacking wet wood with dry again and burning wet wood I said this is three times I have rearranged and separated the wood. I became critical and frustrated, I'm feeling so guilty and ashamed. I feel like I'm not a good caregiver at times.

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Parenting a parent is the perfect storm situation, it is hard to come to terms with their declining abilities and we are not hardwired for dealing with the inability of a grown person to not understand simple directions. Then they play the authority figure while we run ourselves ragged trying to help them and they get a twisted knot because we are trying to keep them and us safe from their dangerous behaviors that they don't see.

It is a natural reaction to get upset when someone continually does a dangerous activity. Burning the house down would be a devastating blow, to everyone. Maybe explaining that you are worried about the house being lost because of fire and we all know how easy it is to accidentally cause a fire.

Please learn to forgive yourself when you find yourself upset because of his repeated behavior. You have nothing to feel guilty about, it's not like you hit him on the head with a hunk of wood. Being kind and merciful to ourselves is as important as being kind and merciful to others.

You are doing a great job, you are giving him the space to continue with activities that he can do and you are loving him through it.

Frustration happens, accepting that it will is a big part in being in control of how you react to it.

Hugs, you got this!
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I hope things are getting worked out, for you.
This is a tough labor of love, hang in there.
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Operator May 27, 2019
Hello, semshque, thank you so much for answering! Nice to hear from other caregivers!
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Your frustration is understandable, and No, you are not a bad person. A bad person does not feel guilt or ashamed.

Under pressure, we cannot find the best techniques to find a solution.

Do try one or two smoke detectors, it will go off, and Dad will definitely be reminded, which is a natural consequence of his unsafe behavior. You won't have to say anything. You may have to come running if he does not know how to turn it off, or stop the wood from smoking, but at least you will be notified of the unsafe condition when it is happening. The ability to learn may be affected in dementia and Alzheimer's.

There are two types of smoke detectors, and a CO 2 alarm. One detects heat from fire, and one detects smoke. Some fire departments give them away.
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Operator May 27, 2019
Thank you so much for great advice!
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Go give him a big hug and tell him that you are sorry for being upset about the wood and all the smoke, then let him know that both of you will try to do better in the future.

Big hug, tell him you love him and let it go.

We all make mistakes and do things we wish we hadn't, give yourself the space and forgiveness for getting it wrong once in a while. It's okay.
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Operator May 27, 2019
Thank you, Isthisrealyreal, I usually say sorry and give hugs but the guilt is consuming at times.
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You’re not a bad caregiver at all. You’re a good caregiver for caring about his wellbeing. Things pile up, don’t they? It becomes too much to deal with at times. We start second guessing ourselves. Please don’t second guess yourself when it comes to health or safety. You’re doing a great job. Your dad is blessed to have you. Hugs!
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I'm not sure why you would feel guilty and ashamed for protecting your dad and recognizing his limitations. It's the caring thing to do. Now that you know that being critical won't help at all, you know what doesn't work. If he could do better, he would. Now, the important thing is to keep him as content as possible, while at the same time, keeping him safe. As things progress, I would consider that him being in charge of fires, flames, stoves, etc. is not safe. So, I might work on stories to justify this, though, he may not accept or like it.
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One of the first sense to go for a person suffering from Dementia is smell.
You can no longer reason with them. They have a hard time processing what you are saying. Short term goes first.

So like said, its up to you to "Dad proof" the house. Hopefully you all live together because a person with Dementia should not be using a wood stove. Or any stove for that matter. I even had the microwave taken out of Moms AL room.

My one regret is not having patience with Mom. But she did forget it. She started acting like a child and I just didn't deal with it correctly. I am not a patient person anyway. Don't beat yourself up. Its hard to except that the Dad you know is slipping away.
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First of all, the smoke will affect your health and that of everyone in your house, including your dad. Secondly, creosote buildup can cause a chimney fire, which may cause loss of life or loss of your home. So are you being overcritical? Maybe you are but it's not without a good reason. When a child reaches for a stove burner, you might react instinctively with a yell or slap their hand away and it could hurt or scare them but the alternative is they receive severe burns - I'd rather see them suffering a little wounded feelings and the sting of a slap than to see them suffering from second or third degree burns with scarring or infection. You reacted to potential danger. If dad gets a bit offended because you yelled at him about the wet wood, maybe he'll start to remember not to burn it, especially if you explain to him the possible damage it could cause. Give yourself a break. None of us is perfect and you haven't destroyed your relationship with him over that small incident. If you didn't care about him, you might not have reacted at all. Apologize to him if it makes you feel better, and explain why you were upset. Chances are there was some point in your lives that he reacted with criticism and frustration about something you did wrong and you don't still hold it against him, do you?
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Operator May 1, 2019
Thank you! lablover64 I appreciate your advice bigtime! But just to clarify I didn't yell at him, I just raised my voice and with a huge sigh and frustration said stop mixing wet wood with dry wood which I had to repeatedly say. My Dad has the beginning stage of Dementia and each check up testing the doctor says he is stable.
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First, if you do not have one, install a smoke detector. If Dad cannot smell the smoke this is an absolute necessity.

Second, move the wet wood, or make accessing the dry wood easier. If the wet wood has been placed where Dad used to keep the dry wood, you will have to switch it back. Hire some teens to move the wood piles. My Dad kept his instant coffee in one cupboard for 40 years. 2 years ago he moved it to a cabinet that is closer to the kettle and easier for him to access, I still have to remind him that he moved it. Dad does not have dementia.

Third, If you are keeping the wood stove, you need to have the chimney swept more frequently. Ask your Sweep, if they will give you a deal if you arrange for them to come 3 times a year, instead of once.

My Dad cannot manage his wood stove anymore, he cannot bend down to load it, clean it out etc. He bought a free standing electric 'stove' that has the look of flames. It cannot heat the house, but it gives a nice heat and look. We keep the stove as it is the only source of heat in the winter (electric heaters are not enough in a drafty old house). Dad does not spend the winters there any more.

It could be too that your Dad can no longer manage the dampers on the flue and stove anymore and that could contribute the the smoke in the house.
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Where's he getting the wet wood? You couldn't put up some fencing panels or something like that, to stop him taking it from the wrong pile?

The thing is, it isn't *wrong* to be critical and frustrated when someone repeatedly does something fatheaded which stinks the house out and makes your eyes water - of course it isn't, anyone would be annoyed. But it is pointless. If he were able to grasp what you're telling him, he wouldn't be making the same mistake time and again.

A wood burner is a lovely thing in a house, it'd be a pity to lose it. Can you take over the lighting? I don't know about this, but have you looked online to see if there are any safety devices you could fit that would stop him opening the stove?
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Really? Be grateful that he is enjoying this activity and it keeps him busy. Maybe the dry wood needs to be moved to another location. The dry is now on the bottom of the stack? Soon it will be summer even the new wet wood will dry.

Stop providing new wet wood wait until fall?
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Operator May 1, 2019
Gladimhere Thank you! My Dad does not have full blown dementia he is tested regular and doctor says he is stable! I have moved the wet wood and separated it and he continues to add dry wood from the pile of cut dry. He is also using his machine to cut rounds of wet wood he is still capable and I dont want to take that away from him. Again he doesn't have full blown Dementia.
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Operator, you can replace the wood stove with an electric "fake" fireplace that turns on and off with a light switch. No matter how much he loves the real wood it seems like it's becoming dangerous and the stress on you both is probably not worth the constant battle. We've been through several similar "endings", I know how hard this is. (hugs)
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Operator I truly understand your frustration. And feeling guilt and all. I moved both my parents in with me, my Dad now passed. We have a wood stove as well. I understand what you are dealing with.
I came to this conclusion, parents don't like their children telling them what to do. So after much prayer and guidance from the Lord, I have been helped with patience and understanding. My Mom is going to do what she wants even if I tell her she shouldn't. So I don't anymore. I just clean up the mess or make it where it cannot be done, I eliminate whatever it be that would cause friction if done. I know it makes life more challenging and difficult. But trust me, when we lose them, we will miss even these things. So pick your battles, and winter is almost over. :)
They need to do as much as they can for as long as they can, while they can.
Best wishes to you. May God bless you and give you strength and patience.
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Operator May 1, 2019
You are a kind person and I appreciate your advice bigtime! Thank you so much!
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Your sweet dad is trying to help I take it.
Is it possible to put the dry usable wood where it’s very convenient and the wet wood out of sight? I realize that would represent a lot of work. Just thinking about you and dad breathing that smoke. Maybe a tarp over the wet? Out of sight. Out of mind? Is there a smoke detector in the room?
If dad has dementia it probably isn’t fair to expect him to remember about the wood.
Im sorry if my suggestion isn’t feasible.
Im sure your dad is lucky to have you as his caretaker.
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Sounds like it might be time for him to stop stacking wood and building the fires. If your father has cognitive impairment that is worsening, and it sounds like he does, then you are not a bad person but what you're doing isn't going to help long term or even short term. He likely just can't comprehend what you are trying to help him understand and the result is frustrating for both of you.
It's the predictable "death by inches" of cognitive impairment.
The up side is that if he's incapable of remembering about the wood he most likely won't remember your frustration either. Forgive yourself and start looking for another way. In my experience fire and cognitive impairment are a really bad combination.
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Operator Apr 11, 2019
I can stop him from lighting the fire he enjoys having the woodstove. I really feel horrible for saying if he keeps burning wet wood we will have to remove the wood stove because we'll have to clean it sooner and it can cause a chimney fire. I'm feeling ashamed and guilty for being frustrated and impatient.
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