My parents have been active and in very good health until the last couple of years, living next door to me. My mom developed dementia mostly caused by strokes, resulting in personality change and lack of motivation to follow through with tasks on her own, for the most part. She was also quite ill with cancer, but responded well to treatment (localized radiation finished 6 mos. ago), is in remission, stronger and normal weight. She would be quite happy to spend the day in her pjs, sitting and looking out the window.
We are fortunate to have part-time caregivers to help with some of the cooking, personal and household tasks. One caregiver is excellent, gets Mom to help with cooking and simple chores, has her do her exercises for strength and balance, supervises her as she does brain training on the computer. The back-up caregiver unfortunately doesn't get Mom to do much (doesn't seem to do much herself), often doesn't make sure Mom gets dressed. (She says she is not allowed to force Mom to do something...)
The caregiver issue is frustrating (there is a shortage of good help here), but the main quandry is how much to expect, ask, motivate, prompt, etc., my mother to do. She SAYS she would like to do more, "knows she should be doing things" to help my dad, my sister and myself as we have picked up the load. But because of her loss of executive functions, she doesn't have the desire or gumption to get up and do so.
My dad is very patient and loving, also unwilling to make her mad by asking her to do something herself. His health has suffered with stress over Mom's health, and now having to do most all the household chores in the hours when no one is with them (heating up food, clearing and washing dishes, getting up to get something for her, even cleaning her commode until she decided to use her bathroom). It may not be a huge amount and caregivers, my sister's family and myself help some, but when we are not there I know the burden is on him. Mom usually either stalls when he asks, or gets angry at him.
He is an insulin-dependent diabetic, and his glucose control has become quite erratic, partly due to later mealtimes when they are on their own (less often recently). Also the extra work and stress has affected this, and he has become more depressed and fatigued.
I tried making a chart with goals and tasks my mom could do, thinking checking them off would inspire and motivate her, also remind her of things that need to be done. This went by the wayside, but I might try it again. I had hoped Mom having a routine would help her remember, but guess I will have to spend a lot more time to get this to work. I know I am going to take flack for this and be called a slavedriver by her, which is not easy. She has been hardworking and energetic all her life until now-- I know she is not being lazy, but just can't motivate herself on her own.
Part of me thinks I should just let her sit in her chair and do what she wants, yet I know this isn't best for her health, physically or mentally. I think she enjoys the feeling of "doing something" herself, even though she mostly laments the loss of her more capable, younger persona, wishing things could be the way they used to. If it were just her affected, I might be inclined to do so, but I am concerned for my dad, as well.
Does anyone have any experience or suggestions with this? Thank you.