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She keeps saying she needs help but doesn't get any. Dad is declining and while we try to help as much as possible, I give one day a week, many of my siblings work full time so that leaves only the weekends. My step mother only has a woman one day a week for a few hours and we have tried to tell her she needs more help but she hasn't extended her hours even though she could. She has gotten very nasty with me and several of my siblings about all the work she has to do for our father and that none of us help her, which is not true. I'm really stuck as to what to do. When I've tried to talk to her about it she becomes angry and defensive and talks only about herself. When I go there to give her a "break" day, she never leaves the house. I know she has caregiver burn out but she refuses to admit it. Any suggestions?

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Auto correct changed your name from Rakshita ..sorry
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I agree! When I read how your daughter helps you Rashida I said, 'WOW!'. I've never had family or friends offer to help with my mom really. How blessed you are!
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I'd be guessing but she is probably worried about what will happen with the house/their savings. Medicaid has long term care here in NY state which affords home health aides, meals on wheels, physical therapy, non-emergency transportation, social day care and much more. She is also probably reluctant to admit the situation is "too much" for her to handle.
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Here's my spin. Some people just like to complain but aren't willing to help themselves. Nothing u can do for them. You called her "his wife" so I assume you were an adult when they married. I personally don't feel a person is a stepparent unless they had some input in raising you. I think you all need to sit down and ask her what she needs or wants from you all. If she can afford it, tell her to get an aide to care for ur Dad for a couple of hours a day. There r services out there. Call Office of the aging. Maybe it's time for hospice. Get a free aide with them. Some hospices have volunteers who will sit with the patient why the Caregiver shops. Check it all out, then tell her. If she is still resistant, tell her u have done what u can. There are some people you just can't satisfy. Sometimes they don't really know what they want.
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I have the "I am going to be a bag lady on the streets of xxxx town". It probably wouldn't matter if I had a couple of million dollars, I would probably feel the same insecurity. She may feel that way too and that is why she is not hiring extra help. I don't know, can you ask her why she doesn't get extra help?
Perhaps she wants to do it all by herself, my daughter is that way. From the time she was 18 months old and wanted to dress herself to 53 and with a broken leg in a cast and used the ATV to feed the stock. She finally had to ask me for help when she had a hysterectomy. She hated every minute of it.
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Some how I did 't see the answer moecam gave , which turns out to be what I was thinking about the son being the one person that could help in this matter. We were thinking along the same lines.
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Every one has tried to be so helpful in making suggestions to help the stepmother and maybe the one person that could influence her to get extra help is one no one has suggested. Even though her son lives far away possibly he could be contacted and he could suggest to his mother that she needs to get extra help. She may feel that he is the one who is thinking of her and not everyone else thinking of their father in this. She may feel that his children are only thinking of him and not her welfare whereas her son would be thinking of her welfare.
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Try to involve her son even if he lives elsewhere - phone & get hold of him - tell him what you said here - also that you are concerned about her overdoing thing etc - he may get across to her in a different way - also she will know that you are genuinely concerned for HER & her health -

She may be taking it as you & siblings are interfering when you are trying to show concideration - when a person is dead tired they react much like you describe -

She may be afraid if she leaves you alone with dad you may talk him into something she doesn't want especially if you are always saying trying to get her out of the house so stop & say you are there for them both - bring a small treat or call first & bring a casserole to pop in oven - ask her if there are any chores that need an extra pair of hands since two work 3 times faster

If dad can be left for short time then offer to take her out for lunch or help with groceries 'because we girls don't get enough time together' - she may feel that you only come for him so start coming for THEM
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Sometimes people complain just to be heard, they don't really want "solutions" they just want acknowledgement that they are being appreciated and seen to be doing "the right thing".
I have no idea why your stepmom doesn't leave you alone with your dad, you can always ask her. Maybe also ask her what she wants you to do. IF the answer is "nothing", then do nothing. If she has funds to get more help, knows she can and won't, then it's her problem (as long as your father is not suffering in the midst of this all).
My mother recently went on a complaint rage about how she will never see her beloved brother again--he is 91 and getting frail. I said "Would you allow T (my sister) and me to help you go see him for 2 days? It's VERY doable". She said "Oh that would be wonderful". Well, all of 20 minutes were spent on the computer figuring out airlines, hotels and renting a car. We could have her in Oregon in 1.5 hours and to the hotel shortly after that. When I emailed my sis about possibly doing this, she laughed and said "Mom has already called Uncle D and felt that a "chat" was all she needed." I had to laugh--mother is all talk and no action. She just wanted somebody to "feel" her sadness at missing her brother. (Whom, BTW, she never ONCE visited in the 55 years he lived out of our state.) She just wanted to be heard. She didn't want anything to HAPPEN.
No doubt your stepmom is tired, but it may be she is doing this to make a point or just because she's stubborn. As a STEPmom, she has a different relationship with all the kids. You must tread lightly. And honestly? Some people LOVE to be negative and nasty. That's how they protect themselves, or that's just how they are.
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Rakshita, I would like your and your daughter's arrangements printed out, framed and hung on every caregiver's wall as an example! You must be very proud of her, and it is really touching how important it is to her to stay closely involved with you both.
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My daughter has helped me a lot by enabling me to go to a weekly church meeting that I value. For several years now, every Thursday evening, she shows up at 6 with carry-out dinners (she has our credit card) for herself and my husband with dementia. She does my hair, and I go to my 7:30 meeting. They watch M*A*S*H* and the Andy Griffith Show, and he goes to bed. She leaves and I come home about 9:30. This has been a life-saver for me. I've kept active in leadership in my church group, and I have maintained a great group of friends. Before my husband was admitted to hospice, she would take him to restaurants each Thursday, inviting any and all family members to join them. She's as regular as clockwork. This is in addition to her working full time and having her own family. Her gift to us has inestimable value to our lives -- especially in supporting me in having a life of my own while caregiving.
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Grandma1954 brought up good points about how she may feel too "scared, etc." to go, especially if she stays in the room with you.

Also, she may be the kind of person that won't accept anything unless it's done the way she wants it to be done, like when she wants your siblings to chip in more even when that's not really an option.

I have something else to add and it's a different take.

Forgive me for this, and you know I know I'm not going on very many details here, but maybe she feels underappreciated.

I am NOT saying that you don't appreciate her, or that you don't tell her or show her.

I'm saying that she may not see it or feel it.

Is there a gift you could give her that she would really like? I'm not telling you to spend much, but something carefully thought about. Something that might show her that you really care about what she likes and that you pay attention enough to her to bring her something special that she would really enjoy.

Something that might SHOW her that you care for her more than just as a wife and caretaker for your father.

Again, I'm not saying that you don't value her that way, but when I'm hurt and angry and defensive it takes more to get through to me for me to see that someone really cares.

Additionally, I would really like alone time with my parent, but can you instead, some of the time, take both of them out to something they would both enjoy?

Maybe if you showed her that you value their relationship as a couple, and got to know her a little better, so to speak, maybe you can start to get through to her that way, and maybe she'd open up a bit.

I haven't taken the time to figure out why, but for some reason, it occurred to me that maybe if you showed her that you really cared about her as more than just a wife to your dad, maybe she might be able to try to sometimes not be as defensive and angry.
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My question to you is this your mother or step-mother? If she is your step-mother and you don't know how to approach her then I guess your relationship is not ideal. But however, ask her if she truly loves your dad and if she wants to be there for him, then let her know that there are caregivers who would work for 20 or so hours a week and she can go and do the shopping that needs to be done and she would get a break from having to take care of your dad for 24/7. It is a burden on one person to take care of someone with dementia or alzheimers no matter how much someone loves someone. It will quickly drain you of your time, emotions, your health, your memory, everything because you want to take care of this person because you love him or her. It is time-consuming to where they don't have any time to themselves and they feel bad if they leave this person even for an hour. It is hard on everyone in the family but you can take turns to where your father is not left alone. That is what we did when my mother had alzheimers. Before she died we took turns staying with her while my step-father had to go and pay bills, or buy something at the store, we gave him time to do what he needed to do so that he wouldn't worry over my mother. We had 5 people in our family that took turns with staying with our mother. I took an hour or 2, then my sister would come and I would leave then she would leave while another sister would come, and so on. We worked it out to where it didn't interfere with our other jobs or children. So but then when she got worse, we had to put her in a nursing home but we still visited her but she got the care she needed and it took a burden off of us because we knew we were doing the right thing. She needed constant care 24/7 and we knew that was the only option. But we put her in a nursing home equipped to handle alzheimers patients. We felt that she was safe from walking away from this nursing home like a lot of patients do. They did not lock her up but she had a room to herself and she mostly slept a lot but then she went blind because of cataracts. So the last 10 years of her life was being in bed. But it couldn't be help. They took good care of her and they did their best but you still don't want your mother to die but it just had to happen. Let me apologize for going on, but sometimes death can be painful but you can't stop it. No matter what you do, you just can't stop it. I hope that this helps, and I am sorry for the gloom but if your dad gets worse, you may need to think about putting him somewhere near the family so that you can take turns visiting him and taking him out on outings and keeping him informed of all the family members. Because he will soon forget you have children, or that they are going to school, or that they are going to college or got married. Alzheimers patients do soon forget about family members but they can tell you about something 20 years ago. And they will get upset if you tell them they don't remember.
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Yes, leave her alone. If you have tried to help and she still refuses, stop giving the help until SHE asks for it. Most people do not want to admit they need help and you would be amazed at how much one can accomplish when left alone. You find a way to do things you probably didn't know you could do, or figure out a way to do the task. I learned how to repair a roof fascia just by inventing a way & it passed the insurance inspector, other repairs to our house (it closes escrow tomorrow!), and have now taken care of my 90 yr. old husband with one hand/wrist in a cast for two weeks and two more weeks to go. Step-mom will increase the hours of the helper if you tell her you will be unavailable. Trust me, she will. Family sometimes need to back off (for your own respite), and let your step-mom shine!
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No one can care for our loved one better than we can....
He might need me, I am the only one that really knows what he wants....
He is lost without me.......
What if something happens when I am gone.....
There is always the fear when you do leave the house when you return the car of the caregiver will not be there. That they left for what ever reason.
These are all thoughts that I had.
It may take someone else to get her out. A friend taking her to lunch or the movies. But I can tell you that friends are few and far between. They seem to drop off the face of the earth when you are a caregiver.
Or she needs a set time that she has to leave. Does she go to a support group? If not maybe she should and someone could be with your dad then.
A hair appointment once a month. Nails...something where she has to leave and do something for herself.
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I think it's OK that your stepmother doesn't leave the house when someone comes in to care for your dad. She may not have the energy to get dressed and get out and find something to do for several hours. If it were me I'd be taking a nap during that time with my door firmly closed.

Also, if your stepmother keeps complaining that she needs help yet doesn't accept more help that's available to her there's not much you can do about that. It's her responsibility to hire more help if that's what she needs but I can understand that it's frustrating to listen to her complain about not having enough help when there's help available that she doesn't take advantage of.
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msdistress, your Dad's wife is probably too exhausted to want to go out and do things for herself. Caregiving is very overwhelming when you are doing it 168 hours a week, even with someone there to help.

I found with my parents, they didn't want caregivers in the house, they didn't want to spend the money even though they had saved for these types of rainy days. My Mom felt it was her duty/job to take care of my Dad and their home, even at the age of 98... [sigh]. It was total denial of her age and what she could do.

Sometimes for our parents to realize they need to hire more help, we need to step back. Cut back on the hours you and your sibling are there. Have a family meeting with the sibling to talk about it. Then a meeting with the parents.

I know it will be rough, but maybe it will be a wake-up call for them. Time to maybe downsize to Independent Living where there is weekly housekeeping and one meal per day in the main dining room. Hey, I am ready to sign up :)

But don't be surprised if your Dad and his wife fight you all on this. Some elders will fight to keep their independence no matter what.
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They've been married almost 25 years and there are no financial issues. When I go there to be with Dad she stays in the room. I gently encourage her to do whatever she'd like to no avail. The only time I get alone time is if I take Dad out of the house, which I do as often as I can. She has one son who lives out of state. I don't know really who might be able to step in. But will try to find someone and keep trying to encourage her to get more help. Thanks
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Poor dear. Poor you. This is so uncomfortable for everyone!

How long have they been married? Has she had a good relationship with you and your siblings? Does she have children?

When you go there and she doesn't leave the house, what does she do? I know that I sometimes just collapsed and took a nap when someone else could stay with my husband. But really, it is very important for the caregiver to get away from the situation regularly. If at all possible she should go for a walk or to a movie or out to lunch or bowling or to a museum -- whatever suits her interests and energy level. It would be a kindness if you could encourage this.

Do you have any idea why she resists the notion of extending the in-home help to more hours a week? Is it a financial concern? Does she feel guilty about it? What is preventing her from getting the help she needs? You and your sibs should still help your dad, but under the circumstances it is unrealistic to expect that you kids can meet all the household needs.

When you are caregiving a spouse with dementia you have to continue doing what you used to do, take over what your spouse used to do, and take on an entire new set of responsibilities for his care. No wonder your dad's wife feels overwhelmed, especially is she is close to his age. She really has to have help. The alternative is to place Dad in a suitable care center.

Is there anyone you can think of that she might listen to? Someone she wouldn't get angry and defensive with? Clergy? A good friend? Even your dad's doctor? A more detached relative?

She needs in-home help, in addition to what you and sibs can provide. And she needs to take advantage of opportunities to leave the house.

I hope you can figure out a way to overcome her resistance.
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