Hello everyone. I’ve been reading these boards for a while and I like how everyone here is so helpful.

My M who is a former nurse is caring (she is not the sole caregiver, there’s someone who comes in during the day-8 hours) for my step father who has mid stage dementia, hearing problems and incontinence. M herself has heart issues (a-fib) and balance problems. She refuses to even consider the idea of memory care, or even that the house is becoming a danger due to his many falls. He’s fallen in the kitchen, living room, dining room, and bedroom. He has had a few syncope episodes in the backyard where he’s passed out because he doesn’t realize how hot it is and passes out when his blood pressure drops. He’s been in and out of the hospital about seven times since 2019.

In 2019, SF had the initial accident, where he turned around too quickly and fell on the kitchen floor. Damaging his spine. He was in rehab for two months and he was never the same again. In the years leading up to his accident his dementia had been slowly getting worse and as it happens my mom’s strange ongoing denial about it. I first noticed it in 2013, as did everyone else. She still calls it “out to lunch” and hopes I think that he will get better and he will be the “man she married” again, I just look at her and say nothing. She was a nurse yes, but not with dementia patients so she had no experience with it.

Into the age of covid and the continued decline of SF, my M loses her temper almost every day and screams at him causing her to have A-fibs, I gave her two white boards to write on so she didn’t have to scream at him (lack of hearing). It doesn’t seem to help. She takes a prescription drug made for anxiety to help with the stress, it helps to put her to sleep but she still wakes up to the same reality.

I am the only one who helps out (I do the books, shopping, stay over if she needs it etc). His kids don’t help out. He is not my father but I’ve tried to be there for her when things get overwhelming. Due to previous experiences with him (before the dementia he was verbally abusive to me, I’ve never forgiven him) I’m only there for her. He behaves like a child and she doesn’t understand that he’s not going to remember to wash his hands before he eats a candy (she has covid protocols). She doesn’t have patience with him and he is so dependent on her.

However, I am overwhelmed by this ongoing, never ending struggle that’s unfolding in front of me. Worried that every day I’m going to lose her to the stress. Worried that she loses sleep because he’s up five times a night, urinating, rocking back and forth, making messes, sweating through his clothes and walking off to tear the cupboards apart for Tylenol.

Everyone has told her that maybe she should put him in memory care. She refuses and says that he will die in memory care. He will die anyway if he takes a bad fall. He can’t even walk up the front two steps on his own, so how is he going to navigate the others? It’s a one story house but even a rug poses a tripping danger. He won’t use his walker at all times so down he goes if he falls. Last week he fell on the floor while trying to get up off the sofa. She couldn’t get him up and had to call a neighbor to come over.

How does one convince a stubborn M to give up some of that control and realize that the house is unsafe for him? Realize that the stress is shortening her own life? Realize that lack of sleep is bad for her health? Realize that when she screams at him her heart takes on that anxiety? I have told her that if she dies, I cannot take care of him. I will not take care of him.

How do I help her? I’m so in over my head. Sorry for the length. Thank you for your help everyone.

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It's clear your mother is denying what going on with your SF; no question there. But some of her behaviors sound a little irrational beyond just denial. Your mother is 86. She has cardiac and balance problems. I don't like to even tentatively suggest this, but is it possible she also is beginning to have some dementia issues? If you are getting some counseling for her, could the counselor/therapist be alerted to your concerns, if you have any, in this area? I realize her diagnosis, if any, would be confidential between the therapist and your mother, but if there is a problem, it might get your mother to consider what would need to be done if she can no longer care for your step-father.
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Reply to caroli1

ReddLari, I read your story with shivers - it is very similar to a friend of mine's tale. A little of my own too. Welcome to the journey. I do empathise.

Your Mother has accepted home help. Big congrats to her for that 👍.

Book in a time with her to have *The Chat*.

Tell her what you see, that you are concerned. Ask her what she wants, what she realty wants. Being young & fit again? Have SF's dementia cured? Nice to wish for.. but unfortunately not going to happen. Focus on the REAL options now available. What are HER priorities now? Keep SF home? Look after him herself? Avoid a 'facility'? If so, I'd call that Plan A: Age in Place.

To keep doing that she may need more home help (a lot more) including nights.

Then discuss Plan B: Age in a Residential Care Place (ie Memory Care). Maybe it can be avoided, he will die at home, it happens... But, maybe not. Or it's needed because she gets ill.

You have clearly told her you will not be stepping into her shoes. Congrats to YOU for that 👍.

Explain that if she is out of action (for whatever reason), SF may be transfered wherever.. wouldn't she rather have a nice place picked out?

So that's The Chat. Therapist told me it can take at least SIX TIMES to do this to make an indent to elder denial. So keep going.

But if, like many others, multi chats make no impact you will enter The Club *Awaiting a Crises Club*.

This is my friend's journey... 2-3 yrs loop of falls/ER/rehab/home but just today tells me her relative has come to a major turn in the journey. Another crises. This one to be known as The Final Fall: the 'beginning of the end'. #femur, #pelvis, head strike.

Some have found adding a third party (social worker, a church elder, a trusted friend) to The Chat can help.

I wish you the very best of strength & luck.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Beatty

Hi ReddLari, welcome. Sorry you are so stressed and worried about your Mom. Unfortunately that’s what brings us all here looking for help and suggestions. You mention your Mom has help 8 hrs a day. Could that help be in the form of overnight help and that way your Mom is at least getting sleep? This full time caregiving is exhausting on a good nights sleep never mind when exhausted. At least Mom wouldn’t be running on empty to start the day. Just a thought.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Sweetstuff
NeedHelpWithMom May 4, 2021
Having help at night would certainly help. Sleep deprivation is horrible!
I am very sorry that you are struggling with this situation. It certainly is a challenge for everyone.

As Barb mentioned, Council on Aging is a good resource. I have used their services and say that I was pleased. It’s not instant service. It’s on a first come, first serve basis, so be prepared for a wait. I do encourage you to be put on the waitlist.

The other thing that you may want to do is call the doctor and get a contact number or email for a social worker to help plan for current and future care. I have done this as well. The social workers deal with elder care on a daily basis and can offer probable solutions.

Wishing you and your family all the best.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

How about ringing up the local Area Agency on Aging and getting a professional needs assessment?

Or getting SF's doctor to order an inhome evaluation of the home enviroment (for SF's safety).

Most of our parents won't listen to us "kids" but will listen to professionals.

Is mom worried about the cost?
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn

Perhaps try the angle that you understand she's caring for him, but caring for him the best way possible is not the current way. Wouldn't she want the BEST care for him? If so, the best care is a place where he's far less likely to fall and die from that.

There are many ways to care for a loved one, and it's rarely in their own house and by someone who is overwhelmed by the job.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to MJ1929

At present you are enabling this situation by participating in it. You need to have a honest talk with your mother about how much she understands this dementia, and about how critical that your stepfather get into care. If she will not listen then there is little that you can do, but if you participate know that this allows her to remain in denial.
This is somewhat self limiting in that there will be, sooner or later and likely sooner, a wake up call with serious injury to either your Mom or your stepfather. I am really so sorry, but with your Mom competent to make her own decisions there is very little you can do.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to AlvaDeer
ReddLari May 4, 2021
Your “enabling” comment is completely unhelpful. I’m not enabling anyone, as a matter of fact all of this has impacted my mental health and my job. She’s got no one else in the family to step up, so I’m it. I assume you are here because you are facing or have faced the same issues so have a little empathy.

I’ve tried to talk to her many times and I hit a brick wall every time. She’s often said to me “how much longer can I do this”? I figure that each time he has a fall, if she calls the paramedics, the incident is logged into a system. I am waiting for that one last fall where she won’t have a choice in the matter.

I’m currently looking into psych counseling for her and dementia group therapy based in the Los Angeles area. Anyone knows of a group in the SF valley I’d be interested. Thanks.
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