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.