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I am going on three years of elder care for my father. He has struggled with many health conditions including dementia. He is currently in assisted living, and I visit him daily, five days a week, for about 1 to 2 hours per day. I am his primary caretaker, and his MPOA. Although we’ve never had him tested, I believe he has vascular dementia. His short term memory is poor, and as a result, leaving him alone without contact from me for even two or three days causes distress. This despite the fact that he is cared for 24 hours around the clock, with three full meals a day. I have very supportive family, but unfortunately no one who lives close by to be able to spend time with him when I cannot. My immediate family feels that I am spending way too much time with my dad. To me, 1 to 2 hours a day, five days a week, isn’t that much. I’m retired, and retired earlier from my job to help care for dad because I knew he was going to need help. What do you think? How much time is too much time for those of us who are caring for our loved ones?

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It might be like raising kids. How much time is too much time to spend with them? Different parents have different ideas about that.

If you don't think 5 to 10 hrs a week is too much, then it's not too much. None of us, absolutely NONE of us, can give you a measure of time or tell you what is right or wrong.

For your family to tell you that - why did the topic come up? Is hubby feeling neglected? Are others asking you to visit with them or do something with them and you decline because you are trying to meet a certain schedule visiting dad? If family has valid reasons that indicate you are there too much, determine where they are coming from - you have health issues you are not managing, they just don't like you to be away from them, normal activities have been interrupted because of the visits. -- Are their comments valid or selfish in nature? Use that to determine if you need to reduce hours (or maybe even increase them LOL).

I knew a older woman who visited her mother each and every day during a meal time - either dinner or supper and sometimes both. She did it for many, many years. Lived in a small town and drove to town, about 8 miles round trip every day. Her mother looked forward to the visits and eating with her. All her kids were grown, so this was just her daily routine. When her mom died, I know she had no regrets. She was unable to care for her, but with the facility providing all of the care, all of the time spent with her mother was quality time.
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disgustedtoo Apr 11, 2021
Another post I'd like to up the Helpful Answer clicks on!

One of the 'perks' for having a LO in a facility is the ability to visit as a NORMAL person, not a care-giver and spend QUALITY time with the LO! Then no regrets along with reduced stress and strain!
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Life is short and there is never enough time. It just slips by. You are enriching your Dad’s life and yours by being together out of love. Be with him as much as you want.to because there will come a time when he will not be there, and you will wish he was there.
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disgustedtoo Apr 11, 2021
Wish I could get that Helpful Answer to accept more clicks from me! You nicely covered some of the things I wanted to say.
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No time is too much time if you're ok with it and you're not forgetting about time for yourself and others.
Since you are retired. You have the time and an hr or two 5 days a week seems fine to me.

If you want to slow down, make sure you do it slow like start with visiting 5 days a week for just an hour then go to every other day fir a visit
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Shame on your family! They do not sound supportive to me, they sound like a bunch of narcisist! Your Dad is ill & he needs you! He has taken care of you his entire life by feeding you, clothing you & keeping a roof over your head since you were born. What's wrong with your family members? Why do they not go & visit? & I'm speaking of those in your own home! For the ones living far away that's an excuse. They choose not to make him a priority. (& covid is no excuse either) He is confused & scared, he needs something that is routine, familar. Your Dad will most likely only have a short time left. It's really nice for your family that your Dad is tucked him away in a home out of sight out of mind????
I have been living with my Dad for the past 3 1/2 years & am his only care giver, while my husband lives at our house. He comes over almost every night for dinner. We make things work around my Dad's care, maybe I have a more supportive husband than you?? I have a sister who lives 15 minutes away & one in Az. neither call or visit for months on end, but they make sure they get their vacations , come out to the area for sporting events etc..but fail to stop by while in Ca. they are just too tight on time excuse is just that AN EXCUSE! I don't need that kind of family. I sure hope when your inner family become older & start having health issues, failing memory, or need around the clock care, that they get more compassion then what their selfish whining crybaby selves are giving to you & your Dad. Good luck to you, my advice is to get a thick skin to your inner family & tell them to go to hell if they cannot support you more. The gift YOU are giving your Dad right now is precious & pricless
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Is dad adjusting to life at AL? Making friends, going to activities?

Is his dependence on seing you part of a larger pattern of general anxiety?

The problem that I see is that at some point, you will need to take a vacation, visit a new grandchild or have surgery. If dad hasn't adjusted to his new environment, or if he has overwhelming untreated anxiety, then your absence provokes a crisis that YOU can't be around to help manage. Where does that leave dad?

Make sure that he gets comfortable enough being without you NOW; if he is having panic attacks when he doesn't see you, he needs to be seen by a geriatric psuchiatrist. If he is simply being demanding, set some boundaries and a new schedule.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Only you know your heart and mind. If something happens to him you will have regret and guilt anyway you go about it. However you’re the only one that knows how much you can handle.
I have been there. Yes it’s stressful but in the long run you can say I did what I could.
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Louise, you sound like an amazing daughter. I understand your Dad is waiting for an available room on the Memory Care side of the facility. I can relate to your not having him formally "tested" because he is afraid of doctors ... it was difficult to get my late father in for testing (for a different dementia) for similar reasons.

The main reason I did it was because I'd read online that there were a few things that could cause dementia-like symptoms that were actually treatable ... like UTIs, or various vitamin imbalances. I was fairly sure that what I was seeing with him was unlikely to be due to any of these "easy fix" issues, but I'm a bit OCD about stuff, and I needed to be sure. As I suspected, his problem turned out to be much less treatable (frontotemporal dementia).

So, for what it's worth, here's my take on your question ... I think you should spend as much time with your Dad as you want to. At this stage, he clearly enjoys and is comforted by your visits, and notices/gets anxious when you don't come. I'm guessing your immediate family are concerned about you because standing on the "outside" of your relationship with your parent, they may worry that you are giving up doing other things you enjoy or connecting with other friends and family, etc.? If these are their concerns, they may or may not be legitimate ... only you can really say. Do you enjoy the time you spend with your Dad? Do you feel that you are being robbed of the opportunity to do or enjoy other things? Are you happy about the early retirement, or do you feel cheated of the additional income/security retiring later would have ensured (not to mention the daily interaction with other people)? Is your family concerned about the early retirement for financial reasons?

If you're unhappy about any of the above, your family may be sensing it and concerned. On the other hand, if you're happy and feeling secure about your decisions and enjoying the time you spend with your Dad, then I think you're doing great, and just need to reassure your family that you're happy with the current situation.

On another topic, assuming your Dad has a progressive dementia of some kind, be prepared eventually for him to be regularly anxious even if you continue your weekday visits, because he may not remember that he saw you yesterday. This happened with my Dad, and it made me sad ... he would light up when he saw me, and then say sadly that it had been "so long" since I visited. His sense of time became very elastic and strange, and his short-term memory was failing him. He would even say (and I could see he believed it) that he hadn't seen any caregiver or eaten in days ... but I had an internet camera set up in his living room and could see that this wasn't true. But that didn't matter; he clearly believed these things, and they made him feel abandoned and anxious. All I could do was reassure him that I was checking in on him and visiting regularly, and be upbeat and cheerful and WITH him when I visited.

Enjoy your time with your Dad. He is lucky to have a daughter who cares so much.
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Catyduke Apr 13, 2021
Thank you Paulak, I wish you could have said some other things about Frontal lobe dementia but you actually helped me.
My husband has frontal lobe dementia and he acts macho but I think it’s an act. Some days he smokes a lot other days hardly any.
Right now he’s sleeping a lot and his dog doesn’t want to leave his side
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That is between you and your father. Whatever makes you feel comfortable and what you feel you can do for him. I'm working full time and take care of my parents as well. I do the best I can but in the end I don't want to have any regrets. I don't think there is a formula on this type of care. He's fortunate, some people don't have anyone to care for them.
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Reply to Prudence59
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I think you should do whatever you think is right and feels comfortable...
no such thing as too much time with a loved one who needs and enjoys your comfort and it’s also good for you as well .
why do you even ask ????
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Reply to Helenn
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No one gets to tell you how you should feel. Only you can decide that. I good friend once suggested an excellent response to others advice “thank you for your input, I will consider it” and then you decide and it shuts them up w/o offending anyone including yourself. Good luck. It’s usually the ones not wanting to put the work in, that make the most suggestions to you, right? Prayers.
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