How do I handle the comment "I wish I'd die and get out of this world"?

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Dad is 91. And if I ever show signs of being upset with him or being tired of ill my self he tells me he wishes he would die. I know it is to make me feel guilty but it is very hard to care for him at times when he acts that way. Because he is able to do some things for him self but won't.But if I insist he tells me that.

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After having worked in healthcare for 20 years, I took care of both my parents till their demise at age 95... I could only do it, by considering them "as patients",
NOT AS PARENTS !!! I ACCOMPLISHED THAT OFTEN BY STANDING IN FRONT OF THEIR DOOR BEFORE ENTERING, TELLING MYSELF THEY ARE "PATIENTS" NOW !!! Both had severe health problems. Mother did @ times say "...wish I was dead.." ... My answer:..." then you would miss out on your beautiful great granddaughter ... she's coming over to see you this afternoon and we'd all miss you so..." Parents - even with diminished mental acuity, have feelings...and need to be told they would be missed....because they are loved..!!!. That statement they utter, which upsets you...is a question..."Do you still love me, even though I am cranky and old and need so much help...????? Geriatric Psychiatrists are not always covered by insurance... and often ends you up with feeding the parent medications that impose other side-effects...!! Try the personal route first... tell him you have to have a minute for something else you need to do... then take that minute to go play a game or 2 of Freecell on the computer...that game saved my sanity at times every day... because it completely occupies different braincells to complete that game, which is what is necessary to rest those braincells that have been coping with father's care... You walk away from the PC 10 minutes later, feeling able to cope again...It's like a mini-vacation...but it has to be a task that takes up your TOTAL concentration - that is different from the previous activity.- Then I would enter my Parents room with a positive smile and a joke... Caring for the very elderly needs more laughter, jokes, I even got my Dad 2 kittens, funny movies of the old kind... like ...comedians of the 50's and 60's...
and the grandkids came over often.... Depression can be combatted with loving moments.... without pills first... before you reach for the last resort of a Dr's help and medication... I did need them toward the end of father's life, as he was severely challenged with dementia.... and believe me the patient is aware of that condition in himself, and it does depress them to be in that shape.... I wish you God-Speed in your efforts !
I'm not sure that I am ready right now to comment, but will give it a try.

I am 90 years old with a 90 year old husband. We have been married just over 70 years and have had a usual life with ups and downs and with four great children. My husband has vascular dementia. He can barely walk from spinal difficulties. We have his BP under control and he seems to have beaten CHF or it is under control without specific medication. My discussions with our FP indicate that nothing can be done to improve any of his problems. Of course he is severely depressed. I am his 'only' caregiver at this time and have a large property to care for, still mowing and removing snow from a 400 ft driveway, and enjoy doing that.

I understand his depression and am trying to avoid that myself and indeed Freecell has been a Godsend here - I have played thousands of times (can't get above 75% any more - used to be hovering around 92% - must be old age). But I digress..

My big problem is that he does not think that I am his wife - that the Army has sent me here to cook his supper every night, etc., etc. I find him crying over a long ago photo of us together with the comment that he wishes she would come back and is aghast when I say that is me in my outfit at his sister's wedding, etc.. Over and over on a daily basis we do this.

He does not believe any of the kids' declarations that I am indeed his wife and their mother. It is just horrible for him. The only thing that works is some humor and many hugs and declarations of my devotion to care for him until the Lord calls him. My biggest problem is the effort to keep an upbeat peace of mind and still laugh off the frequent changes of underwear due to his lack of control. I am thankful for Immmodium and panti-liners. Our mainstay...

It is so sad that he knows that he is losing it and feels useless. He is not interested in going to church though the pastor has been here several times. We are thankful for our special pet, Marley, a lovable, playful black Lab and our children who are here when needed - at wit's end, sometimes. We built our retirement home in a beautiful spot with good neighbors who rush to help if called - tho I am unusually independent to a fault, sometimes..

There, I did it and will submit. Any helpful advice is gratefully received. Thanks for reading this.. L
What's hooking you is "I know he's doing it to make me feel guilty". Sure, maybe it happens whenever he doesn't get his way, but that still doesn't mean it has anything to do with you: he no longer has the power to make things go his way, himself, and that's the most frustrating thing in the words; plus he's dependent on others and vulnerable to others, and that's h*** for anyone and particularly for a man of his generation. You don't have anything to feel guilty about, AND he has reasons to feel like s--t AND it would be nicer if he didn't talk like that AND you can sympathize that he has those thoughts. Just reflect: Nod and say, "Yeah, life is rough sometimes, isn't it?" -- "Sounds like it's frustrating to have to wait for things/not be in charge anymore" -- quote Bette Davis "Old age is not for sissies" -- like that. I agree with DHiBE too, and just want to point out that sympathetic reflection IS loving. It doesn't try to talk someone out of their feelings.
My father said that the last month before his death. He was going downhill. Couldn't swallow his food or drink. Had to be helped to the bathroom and he didn't want to live like that or be a burden. And he missed mom terribly. I told him that God would take him when the time was right. He is finally at peace now but the sorrow is great.
When I get that comment from my 91 yr. old Mom , it is usually after one kind of frustration or another . I usually just say, " Really? Sorry you feel that way but today's not the day! Maybe tomorrow you'll feel better?"
My 92 year old mother is constantly saying the same thing about dying, not being around much longer, etc, and is having behavior that seems to make it impossible for me to feel loving towards her. For my own sanity, I have found mentally detaching from her to be helpful for me and also for her: she needs to have that existential discussion with herself. She has avoided things all her life: She did everything (including physical abuse of others) to avoid accepting herself. I have noticed that my emotional withdrawal from her is helping her face her difficult homework. I just listen. One can't do otherwise: she babbles on without a chance of interaction anyways! It's interesting: you can hear all her guilt and self constructed stories about all those she hurt. Indeed, if I were her, and had to face the damage she has caused in our family, I too would be dying of guilt!

The highest road I am trying to take is to simply be present: as often as I can stand it. I help her empower herself by finding others to help her when I can't. I am no longer responding to her guilt bait. No longer defensive. I just listen and when she really goes over the line-mean, I say, "excuse me..." and draw the line in the sand, or leave if I can.

I do think that there is a natural inevitable withdrawal from life at the end...and I don't think it is a bad thing. Seems to be part of the big plan of life. If you are lucky to live long, you will be lucky enough to decide you had enough. But you still have to wait for the Divine Director to usher you off the stage!
I think the way this statement is said determines how to handle it. My MIL passed away last summer at 93. She had a masters degree, rare for a woman her age. She taught home ec all of her adult life until retirement at 65, then went on to organize many things at her church, care for her husband, travel and live a full life. At 87 she lost my FIL. Then she was forced by her own declining health to move from her home of 60 years, She broke her hip twice and ended up in a wheel chair. Lost her sense of taste over time, was relegated to a nursing home full of Alzheimer's patients and suffered from 'old age' - UTI's, depression, pain. She was not always the most positive person - that was her nature - but when she became in her mind truly without purpose as well as never feeling well, she was ready to die. She would often say she felt she was 'pounding sand down a rat hole'. As much as we reminded her of how full her life had been, how much she gave to others, etc. she - very REALISTICALLY - saw that she wasn't doing that anymore. She did not want to go on like this and wondered why she was still alive. Since we are a family of faith, all I could tell her is that every day God had a purpose for her and He wasn't done with her yet. I told her that no matter how little SHE might feel she brought to the table sometimes, she never knew what a difference her presence might make to someone else. As a woman who has had my own career that was abruptly ended when a disability curtailed my ability to continue with it, I could understand that no one likes having to slow down or to be what in their own minds is useless. And rather than tell someone who is truly feeling that way that their feelings aren't valid, I think it helps to say 'yes, I can imagine why you might feel like that'. Toward the end of my MIL's life, we talked about her being ready to be 'out of this world'. I said to her that leaving this world and entering into whatever God has planned for us is a natural part of life, just as birth is. I think she very much appreciated not being dismissed or demeaned; just that validation and empathy made her cut it out! Sometimes I think we fail to get that none of us is getting out of here alive! If your dad is using this statement to make you feel bad, shame on him, but you can still say simply 'yes, I guess I can understand why you might feel like that' and go on. Don't give him anymore time to unload on you but do validate him.
Having just lost both of my parents within 2 1/2 months of each other, this one hits close to home. My dad always wanted to "go home to be with the Lord"...I think it is an understandable comment after having one's body betray them. I would just give them a hug......as i did my dad...and say well I am glad you are here..i still need you..When it is their time..it will come..and too soon. I have discovered that no matter how old you or your parents are, it is still a blow..just awful. To those of you who are caregivers as i was, you will have NO regrets and that is comforting
DHiBE I think you have given the perfect answer. As for me instead of being able to give a helpful answer this time you have given me one. My mother has alshiemers and says she wishes she would just die or that she wished she had something to kill herself with. The alshiemers has nothing to do with her saying that as I have heard it all my life.I have always said that when God says it is your time he will take you. Now for the first time I realize that she needed to be told we love her more so than the normal person does.I recently found out things that happened to her when she was young that caused her to be this way. Bottom line is I guess we don't know how they feel it is how we react to what they say.Everytime I come back from the nursing home I do games on the computor to empty my mind It really does help. (that and screaming outloud when no one is around).
Ironic isn't it?... sometimes it's the other way around...

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