My father's wife (my stepmother) died a few months ago and I became his POA and long-distance caregiver overnight, and have spent more than 4 months of the first year of my marriage with my dad and away from my husband to help him out. I just took him for neuropsych testing for his memory and he has dementia and probable Alzheimer's. During the day, my dad sits and stews on bad decisions he made, the past, and other dark thoughts. He makes comments to say he is redundant, should slit his throat, etc. I can't handle it! He needs me to cheer him up constantly and reassure him he is loved and needed but frankly, I am so depressed and overwhelmed myself that I don't have the inner reserves to always be his rock. Meanwhile my life, husband and career are all on hold as I try to help him. I have never been an angry person but have become at times rageful. He and I have always been close but this is too much for me. My husband is pressuring me to put my father in a "home" but I have been trying to keep him in his house by cobbling together a care plan. No matter what I do he does not seem happy. I can't wait to go back home but I have guilt and fear of leaving others to take care of him. Any words of wisdom? I am only 40 as my father was almost 50 when I was born so none of my friends are dealing with something like this.

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Dear BarbBrooklyn, those are very helpful thoughts. Yes, he is definitely ruminating. I have heard many people go downhill quickly when they get to senior communities. It seems so unpredictable to know how he will handle this and it scares me to think about it. That said, he is miserable at home (I live in another state and just returned home to my husband, though I feel guilty about this). I set up a care plan for him with several shifts of volunteers, home aids, housemates and caretakers. I wish there was the *right* group situation for him. If only I knew what that was...
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Did the neurologist have anything to say about his dark moods? We're any meds prescribed?

In addition to getting a " needs assessment" from the Area Agency on Aging, get dad to a geriatric psychiatrist. What he's doing is called rumination; going over and over stuff in his mind, there are specific antidepressants that can help with this.

I agree with the idea that dad will do better in a group situation; I think most elders do. There are more eyes on the situation, more activities more expertise and more distractions.
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Thank you all for your answers, compassion and clarity. This has been incredibly hard. I will check in here again.
Helpful Answer (2)

I’m sorry for the loss of your step-mother.
You have been a wonderful daughter to come and help sort out your dads life.
Does your dad have funds for private pay?
You need to establish what level of care he needs. The Area Agency for Aging might be a place to start to help you determine dads requirements and what services are available for him.
Because we love someone we almost always think we are equipped to care for them when that is just not the case. A 50 yr age difference puts you more in the range of his granddaughter and there are many GD caring for their Grands who visit this site. But you need to give yourself a promotion on this job to that of manager. You will not be able to do all that is required alone.
It will be hard enough to manage his care on your own. Especially from a distance. Who else is in the area? Older siblings?
Cousins? Wouid he be better off in an AL or memory care near where you live?
Was he living closer to step children?
Your husband is right you have to make long range plans. Just because it would be better for you and husband doesn’t make it wrong.
At 90 he is going through a tough time. Making a transition now would probably be the best thing you could do for HIM and you.
Hugs to you.
Get professional advice and act on it soon.
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You need to get your Dad into a memory care facility.

You must stop being his caregiver. He needs full time help...and you are not going to ever going to be able to do it. Even if you dedicate your life and destroy your cannot do the job of 3 shifts of well rested caregivers.

Stop this now...get him where he can get the 24/7 care he needs.
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I haven't been here long and other may well have better answers. However, this is what strikes me first. Your dad has just lost his wife. Regardless of the relationship, it leaves a void and if it were a loving marriage, he is still struggling with first grief. I expect he needs outside help with that. I think he should also see a psychiatrist with experience with patients with dementia. I also think, though others here will have more experience, that finding an AL that covers all levels of care right through to Memory Care (and hospice), would be a good plan. If he's not going to be happy in his own home, he might as well be unhappy some place where he is safe and well looked after. Unless you can look after him 24/7 in your home or his (and I do not advise this for a newly married woman of 40), if he lives long enough, he will have to go into care. If you are able to cobble something together, I can only see it ending in constant visits from you to do damage control and remake arrangements as his disease progresses. Basically, I see 2 issue. His depression, which you can't control, and his need for long term care, which you can help plan. If necessary, call 911 over the threats and let the social workers at the hospital help from there. Say, over and over again, as many times as you need to. I can not be at his home to take care of him. I can not take him home with me. It will not be safe to discharge him home expecting me to be there. Good luck. This must be very, very hard. And, please, come here as often as you can and let us know how you are doing, good and bad.
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I agree with your husband - you are too far away to manage care for him in his house. What happens if you are far away and something happens with one of the caregiver shifts? If he is in assisted living - there are others his age and activities - he might enjoy living with people his age. But you are young, have your life, marriage and career to focus on . Good luck and let us know how you are doing - this site is very helpful.
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