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For the last 3 months I have been caring for my elderly father who is 89 years old. He has no health conditions and doesn't take any meds at all but he is constantly saying things like 'if I am alive next week' or 'If I make it until tomorrow. For the last couple of weeks all he does is get up/ get washed/ dressed and sit in his chair all day.


I can't get him to do anything - not even make a cup of tea. He can actually do things for himself but he is doing less and less. I know he is getting frailer but he won't do any kind of activity and consequently his legs are getting weaker and he is going downhill. He was doing chair exercises but every day he makes excuses and is reluctant to move at all.


I have started to feel very frustrated and today I lashed out at him as the only thing he does is feed his dog but he has even stopped doing that. Now I feel really sorry and I get guilty, but I am just worn out from it all.


Any ideas?

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You are a wonderful person for trying to care for this 89 year old man. Been in the business for 15 years. This age gets so they just don't see any point in living anymore. So they think if they just sit and do nothing, they will die. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way!
Now my Mother in Law is 97. She keep asking me WHY AM I ALIVE? So you go over, make sure they are up, dressed. Feed the dog, don't let him neglect the dog. The dog is being more mature than he is! If he sits there all day, he sits there all day. Make sure he is safe. Check for signs of nutrition. Like dirty dishes, or food gone. They play games with you. They say those things for reinforcement that they matter to someone. Turn into a detective. My Mother in Law eats, then gets rid of all the evidence. But I know where to look. Then go home and take care of yourself and your life. You have done your best.
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JulieKac Feb 15, 2019
Thank you for your suggestions. The scenario you describe sounds like Dad.
He gets up - sits in his chair - gets dressed - sits in his chair. He does eat but less than usual; loves biscuits and cakes, not so good on protein and vegetables so eats like a kid. I let him eat what he wants as he's always eaten like this and has lived to this age on it.
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I agree that trying an antidepressant is a good idea. He may be depressed and he may be declining and not feeling well, or both. We don't live forever.

A thorough medical check up could be a good thing to rule out any health issues.

Meanwhile, take it easy on yourself. This journey is not over and worse may lie ahead. You can only do what you can do -keep him as safe as possible, nourished, and with proper medical care. He will get frailer eventually no matter how much he does. It is a matter of his age. You need to look after yourself so you can care for him. Good luck!
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JulieKac Feb 15, 2019
Thank you for the encouragement. He has had a check up but everything seems to be ok. And yes, I am doing my best to look after myself as his anxiousness and heavy feeling does impact me.
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A checkup might be in line, just to make sure he's okay and see if he's depressed. Would he agree to any therapy for his legs?

I get why people who are 89 years old might say things about it being near the end. In a way they are right. Can you think of a few ways to put some spark or interest back into the day? I know it's hard, but, sometimes visits from children or long time friends help lift the spirits. Would he be up for a drive to the seashore or a lake? There is really only so much you can do.

I'm of the belief that seniors really have the right to just relax and do what they want as they turn into their 80's and 90's, as long as it's safe. Goodness knows they must be tired. For some people, getting out of bed, bathed and dressed for the day is a big deal. As long as he's content, I'd support his wishes. Maybe, he's content and just resting. I'd try to accept his choices and not impute upon him the way you think he should be behaving. Sometimes, kindness and support can be the best remedy.
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JulieKac Feb 19, 2019
Yes, you are right. If he wants to just 'sit' he should be able to do. The thing that worries me is his inactivity is causing him to be weaker on his legs and he has had a couple of falls at home.
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Take him to the doctor to see if he needs an antidepressant.
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JulieKac Feb 15, 2019
The doc prescribed Diazepam but he doesn't want to take meds.
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Julie, are you going with your father to his GP appointments?

Diazepam does not get handed out freely any more. There must be some rationale behind it, and it certainly isn't obvious to me - it would, for example, not normally be px'ed to someone seeking help with low mood or depression. Did your father report difficulty sleeping or something like that?

What happened three months ago that made you take over as his primary carer? Was there a bereavement, a move, anything in particular?
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JulieKac Feb 19, 2019
The doctor visited him as he had several panic attacks when he was on his own about 6 months ago. He prescribed Diazepam then.
Recently the doc came again as he had breathing problems but I actually think this is caused by anxiety.
I have always visited for a couple of months a year but in the last year I had to stay longer and this is the longest I have been here.
I am really missing my husband and home but I can't leave him on his own.
He has a carer who comes in three times a week which was sufficient but now I don't think he'd be able to manage on his own. I am an only child and he seems to expect me to stay with him.
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Diazepam is anti anxiety, not an antidepressant. It will not get him moving more, rather the opposite. It might be worth talking to his dr about an antidepressant.

If he doesn't want to take that, could you crush up a half dose and give it to him in apple sauce or pudding? A lower dose will lessen the side effects and may still help his mood. Then increase it once he is used to it. If he has another panic attack you might try that with the Diazepam.

Mother was canny, and knew right away by the effect on her when they were giving her meds, so she refused them. But it works for some people.
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JulieKac Feb 19, 2019
The doc has prescribed Lorazepam which are only 1mg and he only takes half at night. I think that dosage is just working as a placebo.
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Anger is natural.
However, it's time you let go of trying to direct what he does or doesn't do.

I'm going to share from the other side.
He may not have health issues, from what you can SEE. Yet the body is very achy as you age. Joint pain and general stiffness is very uncomfortable!

And maybe he is giving you a message that he won't be around much longer because he's being intuitive. Maybe talk to him about it why he says that. He may reveal something to you that you don't know. Be curious and supportive.

You cannot make anyone do anything. At some point, elders realize that they are going to die, and verbalizing it is one way of accepting it and not being fearful. This is the last thing that he has power over. Let him do it his way.

Maybe hire someone to help you if you're feeling burned out.
And when you feel anger or frustration with, leave the room, walk it off...and let it go! Change your focus on what you need to do for yourself to stay in balance while he's going through what he's going through.

All the best to you and dad.
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JulieKac Feb 19, 2019
Yes, I think he is being intuitive.
And I agree about the anger - I do need to walk it off and let it go as it's starting to impact my health.
I am trying to maintain my balance but as I am sure you know it's not easy.
One thing that I am finding difficult is it is difficult not to absorb his energy.
I can feel it dragging me down. I actually need to be boosting my own energy so I can help him but the 24/7 situation is depleting me.
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Julie, being in the UK I am very much aware of how difficult it is to get a GP to visit your home, and how unusual it would be for a GP to prescribe Diazepam as a first line approach. What I'm asking is: what else has happened?

Six months ago your father had panic attacks. Why? What investigations have been done? Who has lead responsibility for his welfare when you are not in the country? Who is providing the regular carers? Is your father in sheltered housing, on his own in the community, or what?

The thing is: you quite naturally need to get home to your husband, but before you can do that you need to formulate a proper care plan for your father; but in order to do that you need a much clearer picture of what is going on with him. What options are you looking at?
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JulieKac Feb 19, 2019
Hi Country Mouse
The panic attacks were brought on by worry about a water leak in the house. He could hear it but didn't know what it was. I guess he got worked up about it and one day pressed his care line button. The neighbours were called and then paramedics and as a result the doctor prescribed Diazepam. I came over from Turkey as few days later and as he was still feeling bad and I called the doctor. Yes, it's difficult to get a doctor to call but when they look at Dad's medical records they can see that he never goes to the doctors so the Doc came round immediately.
After that incident the social services came and did an assessment and put a very basic care package in place. (3x 30 mins a week). Due to the financial assessment - although he doesn't have much of a pension, he would have to pay for any care package up to a threshold of £400 a month.
Dad lives on his own in a bungalow with his little dog. He is actually reluctant to pay but I think the time has come for us to discuss this.It is probably time to talk about getting a more substantial care package or putting this in place for 'respite' periods so that I can go back to Turkey.
The final option would be to consider him going into a care home; however, the way things are going with the NHS I am pretty sure that if social services did another assessment, they would not think he needed full time care. He can actually JUST manage to look after himself.
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It is absolutely normal to feel angry, but you can get through it with the Lord's help with prayer and meditation on scripture. You may find this suggestion silly, but prayer works. You just have to believe.
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Anger normal? Yes!! You have a right to your feelings. You didn’t expect to have to babysit a grown man who is refusing to do anything for himself. Something is not right and needs to be diagnosed. Has he been checked for dementia. I agree he could be depressed but you can’t give someone meds against their wishes. Get the doctor on board and have a private chat with him before he sees your dad.
Have you thought of leveling with your dad and have a face to face talk? Tell him this is extremely hard on you and you can’t go on like this much longer. He must do something about his apathy if he loves you. Otherwise he will have to move. Then see what he says. If he wants a cup of tea, tell him where the fixings are and if he wants it badly enough he will make it. So far, he’s got you going ahead and fixing it. You’re not his maid servant. It sounds like he’s quite capable. I assume you’re in the UK because you said "biscuits " for cookies. Can’t you take him to the NHS doctor? You deserve a life. Go with him and be blunt in front of your dad and the doctor and explain this is too much on you.
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JulieKac Feb 19, 2019
I am pretty sure he hasn't got dementia as he's very alert. He is reluctant to move around because his mobility is getting worse. But it is chicken and egg - the less he does, the less he will be able to do.
I am in the UK but I actually live in Turkey with my husband. I have been here since the beginning of November to support him, but to be honest I think me being here makes him more and more dependent. And that is putting him in a downward spiral. I asked him this morning to try to make a list of three things every day that he can do (and do them).
The doc visited him a few weeks back and all his vital signs are normal, his blood is ok and he doesn't take any meds apart from a vitamin tablet!
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