My mother has been the primary care giver for my stepfather for more than 20 years. He has CHF, a clotting disorder, morbid obesity, and hidradenitis. 2 weeks ago, my mother had a stroke affecting her left frontal lobe. She now has lost the use of her right arm, difficulty swallowing, is unable to stand or walk on her own, difficulty completing tasks, and some personality changes. She is in acute rehab and is about to transition to sub-acute rehab for an undetermined amount of time. My stepfather is unable to cook, clean, do laundry, wash himself - or any other ADL without assistance. He also has wounds related to his hidradenitis (in a very personal area). For the first few days I was able to help him every day with breakfast and dinner and wound care (at least once if not twice daily) because I had time off from work. I am now back to work. (I work 12 hour shifts overnight 7pm - 7am, sometimes 3 to 5 days in a row). I can only make it to see him once every 2 to 3 days. He calls me many times a day and gets upset that I am not able to help him several times a day. He leaves me messages like
“I don’t know if I am taking the right medications, I tried to figure it out, but I’m not sure.”
“I am so weak, I hope you are coming to check on me soon.”
“I had to go to the bathroom. I don’t think I cleaned myself well.”
“All my bandages have fallen off. They need to be changed each day. I need you to come over as soon as you can.”
He is terrified of hospitals and has only been to see my mother twice. He continues to call her and tell her he needs her to come home and take care of him. I have tried to explain to him that when she comes home, she will need someone to care for her, but he doesn’t seem to believe that. I have even called the local VA hospital and left several messages with the social worker to try and get help for him, but have not received a response. I sometimes feel guilty that I can’t get there more often. I have been alternating days between helping him and visiting my mother. When I do go to help him, it involves about 2 hours of time. I do laundry, fix him a meal, clean up, give him a ‘bed bath’, clean his behind, and change his dressing (located behind his scrotum). He won’t even wash his own penis. I am very uncomfortable and this is bringing up some childhood issues that I would rather leave in the past. I am averaging 3 to 4 hours sleep. Last night, he actually called my mother and said “Your daughter (meaning me) needs to come here and change my bandages. I am a bloody mess and she won’t come. I haven’t eaten all day.” He is only concerned about himself. I am so angry I don’t want to help him at all anymore.