Hi. So here's the situation. My mom has Alzheimer's. She was diagnosed in 2013 and had a stroke March of 2017. The stroke seems to have sped up the Alzheimer's. Since then, my sister and I have been taking care of mom. My father has taken a back seat to her caregiving. He does very little to help and my sister and I are completely burnt out. These days all my mom likes to do is go for walks, and go on drives. My father won't do either with her. He pretty much stays in his room, sleeping or browsing the internet. My parents have two and a half acers of trees and plants that we had to take over because my dad was letting everything die. He gets behind on his bills, which we are starting to help him with. Besides the nightmare that is my mom's Alzheimer's, we have the added stress of my father's apathy. He is childish, selfish, and lazy. "In sickness and in health" right? Guess my dad is cherry picking his vows. My mom was the glow that kept all of us together, now we are barely hanging on. I love my mother so much and she doesn't deserve to be so easily discarded by her husband. I've tried asking nicely for help, I've tried family meetings, negotiating, empathy, and begging. I've even tried screaming at him. He will not help us. I'm so tired and I don't know what to do. I hate the way my life turned out and I feel trapped. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Dementia means losing a person before they actually die.

Maybe try turning that empathy around and look at the fact that your dad has lost his life partner - which is a lot different than losing a parent. We spend all our adult lives knowing we'll likely outlive our parents and mentally preparing ourselves for it.  Meanwhile your parents have known and loved each other longer than you've even been alive, and have probably never known which one will be the survivor of the other.

There is a reason men often die soon after their wives, while women often go on for years after losing their husbands. Men (particularly those of older generations) weren't brought up to be socially adept or to have many, varied friendships and a strong support network in the same way women were. Older men especially were brought up to contain or squash their emotions, leaving them in the position of only being able to share their true inner lives with their spouses. Men's wives are usually their best and often only real friend in the whole world. So he's lost his best friend, his support system, and the love of his life.

I would suggest looking at this a little differently and getting your dad's doctor to investigate depression. Maybe he really is apathetic, selfish, lazy, and neglecting important things - but those are also red flags for depression.  Depressed people are frequently viewed as selfish and lazy from the outside, and they do become apathetic and neglectful.  Sleeping all the time is a definite sign of depression, and surfing the internet can be a form of distraction and numbing out.  Depression IS an illness.  He may need an anti-depressant and/or some grief counseling to get through this incredibly difficult experience.
Helpful Answer (20)

I truly appreciate the advice. Today was a good day with both mom and dad :) I shared, with my father, what I wrote and your comments. We were able to work out some of our issues and I feel a lot better.
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Jesamay, are you sure Dad is capable? Has he 'checked out' so that it won't be obvious that he needs help too?
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Crumbs, Jesamay. Bit harsh on your Dad, no? Dorianne has explained pretty much everything I was going to say.

I know this is really hard and upsetting for you and your sister, with added frustration as well, but everything you're feeling is magnified ten times for him - and he's an old man, without the years ahead that you and your sister still have to look forward to.

Just on a technical point: the stroke will probably have added vascular dementia to the Alzheimer's disease, hence the acceleration you've noticed. And five years of this... your poor family.

Please keep coming back to us, we do understand and we do sympathise.
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My dad is on meds, Zoloft. I found out yesterday that not only is he dealing with his pain through PT, but he is also scheduled to start grievance counseling. My dad is taking steps and on his own terms.
Helpful Answer (11)

Jesamay -

Regarding your dad, from what you described of your dad's non-involvement, it does not look like he will ever lift a finger to help his wife or himself. Why? I don't know. Maybe he's lazy and neglectful of his duty as you said, or maybe as others suggested, he is not mentally capable. Perhaps, he has depression and lost all his motivation to do anything. What is there to live for when you practically lost your wife. That's how many men take it when they lose their wives. Many posters here complain about their non-involved siblings. I see your situation being similar to theirs. The bottom line is the more you expect the more disappointed and angry you will be. And the opposite will be true, too. Your dad won't change, so you can only change your attitude.

Regarding your feeling burnout, I do feel for you. Helping your parents is a job in itself. Do you also work? If so, you really have two jobs, and should cut back on one of them. Can your parents pay you for your help? If so, they really should, that way you can afford to work less outside, and be less stressed, and less resentful of the situation.

With regards to the house and the land, if they can't take care of it, perhaps they should downsize. Have you thought about selling it? They can use the money to pay for a smaller place, maybe an assisted living place where your mom can get care.

Take breaks from the caregiving to take care of yourself. Your health is important, too.
Helpful Answer (10)

No no no! Not change your attitude, or not in the sense of "let's have less of the attitude" anyway.

How can one put it... perhaps, think a little more deeply and empathetically about how - *wearying*, how demoralising, your father's state of mind and his reaction to your mother's condition might be.

Depression isn't moping, it isn't something you can motivate yourself out of. It is a soul-sucking, physically paralysing form of despair. Escaping online is one way of handling it; but it can be anything that blocks your thoughts.

It is also, I have to agree, a complete pain in the butt for everybody else on the team! :)

What I wouldn't tolerate is your father's refusing to discuss his own health with suitably qualified practitioners. Don't expect miracles from it, but I think you should feel free to stand there with your hands on your hips and insist that he gets seen.

I was thinking about your mother and father earlier, and another thing did occur to me. If your mother was diagnosed in 2013, there will have been a period before then, perhaps of some years, when although she wasn't obviously ill she was kind of "off." Maybe not caring for herself as normal, not as much fun, not as quick on the uptake, not as strong a support to your Dad. What this could mean is that, for one thing, he's been sinking for longer than you might realise; and for another, that there will have been a period of time when, not knowing there was anything wrong, they may just have cooled towards one other a bit.

There is a wonderful married couple, Timothy West and Prunella Scales, who have made films about their experience of dementia. They're both actors. Prunella Scales is probably best known as Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers - the best performance of the best character in one of the best TV comedy series ever. They are inspirational, and also very truthful about the disease and its impact, and I wonder if you might find them a useful study - for them too, it's the higher profile, more extrovert wife who is now ill.
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I really feel for you and your sister. Others have commented on Dad's depression and possible dementia too.

I too agree with CM "No" is not an acceptible answer to telling Dad he needs medical attention. Now he has sunk too deep to take care of this himself so go ahead and make an appointment with his primary care Physician and take him any way you can.
That is the first step. You can also write a letter to the Dr ahead of the appointment pointing out everything and more that you have told us because Dad won't speak up and probably won't let you into the appointment.

You mention a history of bipolar disease which can cause many of the behaviors you mention. These days there is a lot of medical help for that.

You have seen your mother through her dementia journey so you have some understanding of the loss of mental abilities. if this is dementia there is little medical help available although with a proper diagnosis there may be drugs available.

Has your dad always been like this or is it completely new since Mom became so dependent? If he's always been unhelpful then this is just getting worse with age, as the saying goes people become more like themselves the older they get.

As far as changing your attitude there is little you can do about that your feelings are just your feelings.

What you can do is change the circumstances. Try and get help for Mom. Ask the Dr if she is eligeable for any home care etc so at least she may get someone to come in and bath her several times a week. If you can possibly afford it get a caregiver to come in at least once a week so you and your sister can have some free time. and take care of your own medical problems. Are you both retired?
Downsizing is a good idea but will take a lot of planning. let the plants die just have some one with a brush hog come in a few times a year and clear the lot.
Do you have POA , financial and heath?
The financial stuff has to be taken care of by the two of you. If Dad will agree have one or both of your names put on his bank account so you can pay the bills directly.

The best advice is always to take care of yourself first otherwise you can't take care of anyone else.
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I think your dad has dementia too and is also depressed. If you have all your legal paper work done, POA etc. then get dad’s mental cognitive condition assessed. Hospitals have small wards called Geri Psych where a psychiatrist, social workers, counselors, etc will give you a diagnosis and usually medication is started.

The difference in my mom’s quality of life and mood were astounding. I had misgivings about meds but they do help!
Helpful Answer (7)

Jesa Will be praying for you. As Talkey said, are you sure he is capable at this time? How old are your parents? Is it possible he is grief stricken? Feeling he has lost his wife, to this terrible disease?
You are a wonderful daughter that you are loving your Mom and caring for her.
Caregiving is one of the hardest things we will ever do. God is my strength. HE is the only way I get through each day.
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