This is my 1st time here, so please forgive the length of my post! My mother is 86 and in the early stages of dementia. My father is 89, in fairly good health, and is the primary caregiver at this point. They live in their home which is only a couple of blocks away from myself plus my brother also lives very close. I stop by almost every day after work to visit and help her with preparing supper and any other household chores that need doing. My father has always been a doer, loved working outside on something or other and has a 'shop' where he loved going to work on cars, etc. Now that my mother is becoming forgetful and has experienced several bad falls, he is afraid to leave her alone for any length of time. He has taken to doing things around the inside of the house, he still loves to cook-out for them and does most of the cleaning these days. He's pretty awesome. However, I'm afraid he is getting the caregiver's burnout because lately he has become very short tempered with my mother. Most of the time he's fine, but he gets tired (and at 89, has his own set of aches and pains) and actually yells at her when she asks the same question for the 3rd or 4th time, continually opens and closes the refrigerator to see what's there that she can fix for dinner, interrupts a conversation to ask what he's talking about, etc. I can understand his frustration, but I know that the yelling only causes my mother to stress more which exacerbates the problem further. I feel that part of his problem is the fear of knowing and watching the love of his life (married for 63 years) going through this. I also realize it is easier for me because I am not the one living with her 24-7. The entire family makes regular visits and we give him as many ‘reprieves’ as possible, but we all still work during the day. I guess I’m searching for suggestions to help him cope and hopefully control his frustration. My mother is a very sweet woman, but never developed any hobbies other than cooking for her family. She doesn’t read anymore because she can’t put the book down and remember what she read. It’s so sad. It’s hard to get her interested in anything hands-on unless someone is right there with her. I still have 2 years of work left before I can retire and my dad isn’t much of a crafty/hobby/puzzle kind of guy. Other than her short term memory, she is in exceptional good health. I feel blessed in so many ways; one is having found this sight which has given me pause, smiles, hope and insight. I look forward to hearing anyone’s thoughts, ideas and perhaps shared experiences. Just putting my feelings into words here has helped. Thank you for listening!

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Great ideas from everyone, thanks so much for taking the time to share!

I'm actually trying out GardenArtist's #4 idea today since that is one of my Dad's buttons she pushes. I have been using a dry erase board for daily reminders so I put another on the frig and we listed all the ingredients inside that she will be using to prepare dinner this evening. She even mentioned that it would keep her from having to keep opening the frig! Yeah Mom!

I've talked with a few of our musician friends about holding a personal 'house concert' at their home so they can enjoy their kind of music without having to go out and also actually see us (my own family all plays) all plugged in. I also found a few simple projects/favors for my Dad to do close to home, like sharpen some of my kitchen knives, to help keep his mind off of Mother's constant doings.

Since my mother isn't able to stand on her feet for long periods, it's hard to get her up and out much. I do want to get her back on short walks around the house when the weather warms up. We started feeding 'her birds' on the driveway where she is able to watch them from her chair and it's actually quite entertaining for everyone. My father seems to prefer the indoors or short jaunts working in the garage during the winter months but we're planning to arrange longer reprieves for him as the Spring Fever kicks in...

Good feelings all around today. I will continue to apply new ideas as they come to me. Blessings to all of us who care enough to care.
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Welcome to the forum. Some random thoughts on your situation, adding to Ginger's and GeeWhiz' excellent suggestions:

1. Create relief for your father by letting him work in his shop when you help with dinner, perhaps allowing your mother to help so she still values her role as wife and mother. Perhaps she can arrange some artificial flowers - the color combination and beauty of flowers is calming, and she can feel useful. It can also be a calming/soothing time for your father.

I think finding something that keep her busy, focused and feeling useful may offset the restlessness she feels as what she used to do is becoming more of your father's domain.

2. If you have time in the evening, try to think of some other relaxing things he can do, or perhaps play music that they both like. Music is in fact considered therapeutic and various groups, including musicians, are providing therapy for older folks and those with dementia.

Perhaps down time before and after dinner could be a routine treat.

3. Help to think of the repeated questions as challenges: how can one answer the same question several different ways, being supportive. This forces the mind to be creative.

4. When she repeatedly opens the refrigerator, perhaps he can ask her to tell him what's in there, what can be used either for dinner, dessert, or another meal. Perhaps give her a lovely note pad with floral designs (check at Michael's or craft stores for these kinds of pads) to make notes. Try to help her still feel useful as well.

She can also set the table. Or perhaps look through recipe mags, mark the recipes for consideration, even if they're not used. I think the real key is to help her still feel she's still fulfilling her maternal role.

5. Try to have "cool down times before and after the meals, so that they're broken up by positive interactions to offset the repetitive issues. Try to create similar down times during the day - perhaps at a specific time they could both take a break and listen to music again, or thumb through magazines.

6. Do they take naps during the day? Set aside a time to listen to music?

7. You might consider Meals on Wheels as well, if it's not the "meal delivery" of which you write. It's beneficial through helpful interaction with the people who deliver - sometimes just a greeting and brief conversation with someone else provides relief for what can be the monotony of staying at home.

8. Since she doesn't remember what she reads, find books or magazines that don't require much reading, but are relaxing. Books with photos of landscapes, children, animals can fill this need. Some NatGeo magazines have stunning photos. They're another method of soothing a troubled soul.

9. In the more upscale side of our county, libraries have special programs, including some concerts, as do the local community governments. Summers are special treats for this. Google "musical events" in your area, check the different communities and see what you can find.

10. Are there any parks or nature centers you can visit? Museums? These sometimes offer programs as well.
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Great ideas Ginger. There are many services that can be arranged for --- do it! Here are a few that may or may not be appropriate ---
Do any of the houses of worship in the area have mini noon time concerts? They are typically under an hour and music does wonders for those with dementia.
Ditto on schools 'dress rehearsal' for concerts or plays. If the caregiver is concerned about the person's behavior, you can sit near the exits.
Family members can help by one person coming to visit with the person who needs help while another family member takes the caregiver out for a few hours. A little league baseball game? Lunch? A walk in the park or in a Mall. This way, everyone has a change of scenery.
Get nephews, neighbors whatever to take the caregiver out for a while.
Movies at the local library --- even if they have to leave if she gets disturbed.
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My heart goes out to you and your dear parents.  As you describe, mom can no longer read books she loved because she cannot remember what she's read. Dad has friends he used to meet for coffee, but stopped doing that because he's afraid to leave mom alone. They argue. Dad gets frustrated. Mom in turn gets irritated. 
What I've tried is calling dad when the weather is good (not snowing, raining or cold) and suggest he put on a pair of tennis shoes and walk around the neighborhood for some fresh air. He says he does, but I'm not sure he is able to unplug from the mindset of caregiving.
My dad also loves "doing stuff" but he is exhausted. I'm afraid something will happen to him. He rejected all my suggestions for hiring lawn services, cleaning services & meal delivery. So, I actually asked mom to tell him to get help for these chores. Fortunately, she did and dad agreed. He needed to hear it from her.
So, I arranged a lawn service to show up one day and trim trees and shrubs that badly needed it. Dad loved the result and asked for the contact number to call in the Spring. He called a cleaning service that just started last week and he loves that too. I'm planning to set him up with online grocery order & delivery via sam's club (he seems open to that).
I also tell dad I think he's doing a good job with mom and he's not alone - which he always tells me is more help that I know.
I'll be interested in what others post.
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