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My 89-year-old mom is in hospice care & is not expected to live much longer. She is comatose & getting comfort care. She has been declining for the last year & the final straw occurred 2 weeks ago when she fell & broke her hip (Or vice versa). My 92 -year-old father is anxious & panicked about it. (They have been married 68 years.) He constantly says "I don't know what I'm going to do." Despite all kinds of verbal support from friends & family, he cannot find the calm in knowing that she is being cared for & is no longer being tortured by pain & medical procedures.


His "plan" was that HE would die first. Now that this plan has been disrupted, he has intense, persistent, worry that consumes him. And it affects everyone around him. He has always been a worrier & overthinker, but this is over the top. I'm tired of being nice - I would like to tell him that I understand how upset he is & provide no further verbal response. I feel so sorry for him, but he's driving everyone crazy. I'm going to follow up to try to get some anti-anxiety medication for him. I'm also going to enlist bereavement support from the hospice, but other than that I don't know what else to do.


Once again, I'm turning to this forum since it has been so helpful to me. He has no hobbies, no real interests, has serious macular degeneration, & is very hard of hearing (has hearing aids). He's not outgoing either. Any advice is most appreciated.

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Awww heck. I feel for your father - and I feel for you, too. Ahmijoy’s advice is spot-on. I can’t top it.

Do find little breaks and little escapes (even if just mental escapes) for yourself.... moreso than your typical cadence.

Dad is so desperate and lost; he’s trying to send some of his pain to you. That’s not good. Protect and nurture yourself with more self-care than usual.

LOSS SUCKS. ((((big hugs))))
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Reply to BlackHole
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Hello,
Sorry to hear of your troubles. They sound rather like mine. Your father has the same ailments and behaviour as mine except that my dad has vascular dementia thrown into the mix as well. My dad continually complains to me that he doesn’t know what he is going to do or doesn’t know what is going to happen. He blames my parents predicament ie. the fact that they both are in a nursing home due to them both being in late stages dementia. Mum has Alzheimer’s. I have no one to help me so have had to protect myself from worry, depression etc by changing the conversation to a different topic, going to make him a cup of tea (by the time it’s made he has forgotten what he said) or playing some soothing music(it helps calm him and often sends him to sleep). You possibly use these tactics already but I hope I have said some useful things. Good luck.
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Reply to Els1eL
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I’m so sorry you have to deal with this and your own grief as well. Have you spoken in a kind way to your dad and assured him that he won’t be left alone and casting about when mom passes? Reassure him that you’ll negotiate this together, you’ll help him (within reason) find his place in this new journey. Then, drop it. When he starts the “woe is me” over again, tell him “Dad, we talked about this already. Everything will be ok.” Then open a book, get your tablet or iPad, or get interested in a TV show and answer with a non-committal “um-hmm” when he starts.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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First off, I'm so sorry for your situation. It's heart wrenching.
If your dad believes in God, I would reassure him that your mom's soul is in God's hands. AND God has your dad in His care also. Tell dad that the Lord will comfort him when your mom goes to be with Him. Many are comforted when they know their loved ones will be cared for.

Then be a "broken record". Every time he gets anxious give him a hug and repeat the above sentences.
Your dad's emotions are out of control because his world is about to blow apart. He knows no other life except with your mom. It's like loosing a limb.

Hopefully medication will smooth him out. However, he may get sleepy or slightly unsteady with it. It's good to know that ahead of time.

Please get hospice to come see him quickly for grief counseling. Also, if he has health insurance that covers psych visits, I'd get him in there too.

Take time out for yourself too
by taking frequent breaks. There is no easy way to get through this. I'm sorry.
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Reply to SueC1957
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My mom is 94...and I feel the exact fear your dad is feeling. It's absolutely fear. It terrifies me. I'm so afraid of what facing the inevitable will feel like. I find it hard to explain the total terror I feel. It's not sadness, but terror. My brothers and sisters don't understand and only want to hear about it for so long. I have found a few things that help. I have told people around me that I won't be able to be alone at all for a while...like 24/7. I'm on 200 mg of Zoloft...very helpful. And I have some emergency Zanax all prepared if I feel like I'm going to swirl into an anxiety pit.

Let your dad plan ahead for the terror. If someone can promise to be around him 24/7, that will be reassuring. Even if it's a caregiver. Hospice also has volunteers for this.

Assure him that the terror will turn into grief faster than he thinks (I experienced this with my father...so, I know it's true.) Also, I could feel my dad around me for a while until I could deal with it. Literally I felt that.

I'm an Ivy League New Yorker with a hard edge and am pretty realistic etc.

Read this to him. Tell him I know the fear is crushing and terrifying. Everyone does not feel that. But I know he does, and it's real. 100% this is the harder side. The fear of the terror is worse now than the grief will be. He will feel her with him. I'm certain. And he will feel her probably more than others will. This will be comforting.

I don't know him, but I feel for him. I believe him. Others feel the same thing. It's hard. I'm very sorry.

I'm John.
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Reply to JohnandMom
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I’ve watched my dad, a world class worrier, go through this. He never expected to outlive my mom, yet he did. I believe that all of ultimately deal with what we’re presented with, admittedly some better than others, but he will deal with it. My dad was recently started on Zoloft, he calls it his “attitude medicine” and it’s helped him be more calm and overall positive. I agree with the advice to listen once, offer advice and empathy, but then to move on. No one young or old needs to be encouraged to stew in their worries
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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I spent my whole life dreading my Mom's death stupid as that may sound. When her health really started to decline and I was sure it was getting close to the end I went to my doctor and got prescribed an antidepressant. The lowest dose but it definitely helped me through the transition. I think if I had not done that I would have seriously flipped out.

I did this six months before my Mom died. I don't know how much time your Mom has left but it would probably be a good idea to do this sooner rather than later if you could get your Dad to agree to it.
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Reply to Gershun
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This I can relate to, I went through the same thing this past year with both my dad and my FIL. I know you're stressed yourself and don't want the burden of doing even more, but if you are the sole or primary sibling that's going to be helping dad through all this, be practical and plan for it. It will help you just as much as it will help dad. So here are some things I learned:

Bills: Know when his bills are due and remind him (maybe write them on a calendar that is in plain sight). No use in letting the cable or water be turned off, that's just creating bigger problems for YOU later on because ultimately you'll be the one calling the creditors and trying to undo the problem. Or sign up for autopay if he'll go for it. My dad wouldn't consider autopay and the first few months the cable bills were late- so then I'm on the phone pleading with DirecTV to delete the late charges... not a real joy, especially after working all day myself.

Laundry: If he is physically able to do laundry, show him how it's done and write out the directions (especially the amount of detergent... again, I know from experience after dad over-soaped and had suds all over the floor). If he can't or won't do laundry, you'll have to do it, rotate it among other people willing to help, or sign up for a service of some kind.

Cooking: drop off prepared/frozen meals, sign up for Meals on Wheels, or let him cook. My dad's house perpetually smells like bacon since he cooks it every day for breakfast, but he now cooks a lot of other things, too. I think he found he likes it, which made it easier for him to adapt. Keep the house stocked with easy staples he likes so he doesn't have to cook (cereal, bread, peanut butter, snacks). He won't starve.

Cleaning: this was a tough one; we wanted him to sign up for in-home cleaning, which he flatly refused and I refused to become a maid... I've got my own house to take care of and work full-time besides. Dad learned how to run the vacuum and does it a few times a week. He always has a supply of Mr. Clean disinfectant wipes (the pre-moistened kind in the pop up containers) in all the bathrooms and kitchen. It keeps the germs at bay until we can do a better cleaning every few months. He also uses furniture polish wipes for dusting. The house isn't mom-standard clean but the house stays relatively clean and tidy.

Misc: list of birthdays, addresses for holiday cards, anniversaries, etc. Mom always did those things but dad was grateful when I reminded him of special occasions. A box of all occasion cards is now in his desk drawer and he did Christmas cards on his own this year.

And maybe most importantly: assure him that the kids aren't going to swoop in and rob him of his independence. Include him in decisions, even if he doesn't really participate.

Very sorry for the situation and your mother's illness. Make time away from your dad's problems to be with mom and just be her child and enjoy her company with whatever time is left to her.
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Reply to TekkieChikk
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Is Mom on Hospice? If so you should have a Social Worker as well as a Chaplain available to discuss this with. And they could also talk to your Dad.
And after Mom's death they will offer a Bereavement Support Group that he should probably take advantage of.
No one is prepared for the death of a loved one. I was with my husband and I knew the end was close but I just was not prepared for the actual death. I know in my heart and in my head that is was imminent but it was still difficult..it felt as if my soul were ripped from me. (It has been a bit over 2 years and I had to walk away from this for a while...it will always be difficult but the pain eases.)
He will need your help as well as the rest of the family now and in the foreseeable future. I can not forecast the future but I would guess your Dad will decline after your Mom dies and may pass sooner than he would have if your Mom were still with him.
By the way if she is not on Hospice if your Mom or Dad are members of a church or have a particular religious affiliation it might be a good idea to call to get some support for him as well as the family.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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