When your Dad and your little sister lives with you in my home, how do I live my life without feeling guilty? - AgingCare.com

When your Dad and your little sister lives with you in my home, how do I live my life without feeling guilty?

Follow
Share

my youngest sister has lived with me for years. We moved my father in September as his aging allow him not to drive or take care of himself anymore. How do I not feel guilty because I choose to go to dinner a couple times a week with my boyfriend or my girlfriend. My youngest sister throws that up in my face , Every time we have an argument or disagreement about something.I do as much for my father has any other family member. The only thing I don't feel comfortable doing his sponge bath . It feels very invasive to me.
He has fell several times since January. I have recently removed all access to getting up at night on his so he uses a urinal
I bought baby monitors this weekend because my sister and I have been sleeping in the dining room with him every other night as he feels more comfortable if somebody's there. However neither one of us are resting and is becoming more more difficult. I told my father we would use the baby monitors as we could hear him just as easy on those as we could if he yelled for help. My youngest sister won't abide by this and keep sleeping in the dining room with him. This is happened before and she has complained that she's doing more and
And needs more help. My father tells me that I need to do more. I ask him what else I can do besides bathing him which I'm not going to do and he has no answers. I feel like if my sister would stand beside me and sleep in her own room and use the baby monitors we might get more rest and this might not be such an issue. However she does everything my dad wants or two with no boundaries.
I believe it's the right thing to do to care for my father as he agents however I do want to continue to live my life. I want to be able to have dinner with my friends I want to be able to go on vacation with my boyfriend. We have a lady who helps us about 15 hours a week and recently applied to the veterans for more help I know these things will help. My dad's recent MRI & ultrasound came back negative.... wonderful thing ......but the reality in my face now is this could go on for years any advice?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
20

Answers

Show:
Hi Henryshelper! Let me tell you what I found to be helpful in my case. I am pretty much the sole caregiver for my mom who has dementia. My husband helps long enough so I can run to the grocery store at times, and we do have a home health aide coming now. Initially right after we moved my mom in with us I used to sleep in the recliner right outside of my mother's bedroom. At the time she would get up to use the bathroom every 2 hours and then would come out to recliner around 4:30-5:30 A.M. Finally after 2 months of this I was just exhausted and felt I had to get some rest. So I invested in a couple of baby monitors and door alarms (in case she tries to wander out the door at night) and started sleeping in my own bed with my husband where I belong! Instead of a urinal, I found that Depends work better in my mom's case. Ever since it has been working out SOOO much better as I am feeling much more rested these days now that I am not getting up every 2 hours to help her to the bathroom. I am also no longer getting up between 4:30-5:30 anymore either, which is WAY too early for me! Instead I go to bed at my usual time around 11:00-11:30 and get up between 6:30-7:30. My mom is generally incontinent every morning now, but that's okay because we just wait to change her Depends when we are BOTH up and it's been working out just fine! The other thing we had to do since my mom tried to leave a couple of times was to put up stop sign banners on both doors to deter her. This in addition to the door alarms seems to work just fine!

Also, in the beginning when we first moved her here I basically had no help other than a Home Health Aide that came twice a week strictly to giver her a shower. However, I did call our Area Office on Aging and found out they did have a program to help families by providing respite care a few hours a week based on the person's income. It took a couple of months (about 3 to be exact), but now they are sending a Home Health Aide out to provide respite care 15 hours per week. This is the amount of hours my mom qualified for at a reduced rate based on her income. Therefore, 3 days a week when the Aide comes I basically have 5 hours to do what I want, whether it be grocery shopping, going out to eat with my husband, going for a walk, etc.

Just recently every time the Aide came my mom started becoming increasingly agitated, started saying nasty things to both my husband and me as well as the caregiver (possibly to make us feel guilty for leaving), started trying to leave when the caregiver was here, and even became combative with the Aide. As a result I called the doctor and asked if he would prescribe something to keep her calm at night. Now she is on Lorazepam, and it seems to be doing wonders as we no longer have a battle on our hands every time the Aide comes. I do not feel guilty at all for getting respite care to help as my mother no longer remembers who I am most of the time and I have found that it helps me keep my sanity so I can deal with her better. In addition, after dealing with all of her nastiness over the past few weeks my husband and I have decided to take a week's vacation. During the time when we are gone she will either have to stay in a nursing home or memory care unit for respite care. Again, after all of the nasty things she has said to me (even though I know she doesn't know who I am anymore or what she's doing), I do not feel a bit guilty for taking a vacation from her as I deserve it for all of the C*** that I have put up with over the past few months! Even though it was my decision to move her in with us, I did not do so with the intention of doing it all myself and never getting any breaks! That would be insane! No, I deserve to maintain some sort of life of my own. Heck, my other 5 other siblings do! Other than a brother that comes to visit roughly once a month and helps handle her finances as the Financial POA no one else has to lift a finger! I realize that they all live too far away to help, and I knew that going into this. And even though my mom has been much more pleasant the past few nights since going on the Lorazepam, the things she said were extremely hurtful at times. Heck, I'm only human! And for my own health and well-being I just know that it is time to take a vacation so I can come back feeling refreshed instead of resentful.

Anyway, do yourself a favor. Do not listen to anybody else when it comes to trying to make you feel guilty. You alone are the only person that knows your limitations. If you feel as I do that you need to sleep in your own bed at night so you can get some rest rather than in the dining room then do so! If you feel that you need to maintain some sort of life by going out with your boyfriend or girlfriends then do it! If you need to take a vacation, then go - and don't let anyone tell you otherwise! If your sister wants to continue sleeping in the dining room with your dad then let her! If she tries to throw it back in your face again, you can tell her about this post! Then after 2 months when she is exhausted from not getting enough sleep at night you can throw it back in hers! lol No, not really, but you get my point.

I agree with CarlaCB that your dad should stop complaining and just be grateful that he's not in some facility somewhere and that he has his family there taking care of him. However, much like our situation even without the dementia, just know that you can only control your response to him and not his attitude. I have learned a lot about caregiving over the years, and one is that the person who is being cared for (as mentioned earlier) does not usually realize all that the caregiver is doing for them. They just know that they are sick or in pain and things are not the way they would like, so often they end up taking it out on the caregivers. This was often the case with my dad who became very grumpy and difficult to deal with at times prior to his death. You may just have to put up with it realizing that you are doing the very best that you can for your dad regardless of what he or your sister says.

It also seems to me that you and your sister need to work out a schedule so that each of you can leave and get some time to yourself. Seems like you both shouldn't have to be there all of the time. Sounds like your sister just has a "martyr mentality" and in the end she is the one that is going to wind up resentful while you have the healthier outlook and perspective on things. Perhaps she is just trying to make you out to be the "bad daughter" so she can be the "good daughter". What it all boils down to in a nutshell is that you have to know your own limitations so you don't end up getting sick yourself. Everyone is different, so what is best for one person isn't always what's best for another. Perhaps your sister is just a "superwoman." My guess is that she's not or she wouldn't be resorting to throwing things in your face. However, it certainly sounds as if you have a good idea by placing the monitors in the room so you can both get some rest. And so what if you don't want to give him a bath! Hire a home health aide to come in and do it for him! I know in my dad's case I gave him one bath before he died, and even though I bathed people of the opposite sex many times over the years as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, it's different with your own dad. I know that personally I felt a little awkward about it. Yes, this could go on for years, and you should not feel guilty at all about wanting to maintain some life of your own. You should feel proud of the way you are helping out your dad. PERIOD! Luckily, I have a sibling that tells me what a great job I'm doing. In fact just a couple of days ago he said that he didn't think mom would be here if she was still in the nursing home. So just remember that. Don't forget to be good to yourself, and reward yourself for the good things you are doing for your dad every day! And just like my brother and sister-in-law said to me when I told them we were going on vacation at the end of the month, they said, "You deserve it!"
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Nicely put. You must remember it's ur home. Maybe sister doesn't likeshe has to depend on you.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

You mentioned finding an in-person support group. I did that, too, and I will tell you it helped me keep my perspective. It's the best thing I did for myself.

But back to the question - I think it's probably normal to feel a little guilty even when we're not really doing anything wrong. A lot of us have an overactive conscience or we probably wouldn't be doing so much caregiving. It's just a bad thing when you let it rule your life.

Don't stop doing your own thing. You need to get out. If it means that your dad has to pay for someone to watch him while you're gone to help him if he falls, then that's the way it has to be. Notice I didn't suggest you ask your sister - if she's already against you going out then I suspect she's not going to be a reliable backup person.

So, my advice as I struggle with my own guilt, but:
1. Don't stop going out and doing your own thing.
2. Don't stop doing whatever relaxing things you might want to do in your own home, if that's possible.
3. Don't let anyone stop you from joining and regularly attending your support group. It might seem a little awkward the first few meetings but you'll get to vent and it will be with people who know you and your situation. After a while, it will probably become a good source of refuge.
4. Don't beat yourself up for feeling guilty but don't let it rule your life.
5. Remember that you're the one sharing your home and life with everyone else. If you were a selfish person, you wouldn't be doing all this to begin with, so just remind yourself of it.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Henryshelper, your situation is similar to mine in some respects. I'm also a daughter taking care of her elderly dad (and mom) in the home. They are age 90 and 89. My dad had a TBI in 2001 and is a major fall risk due to his balance and various issues with his feet. For years he has walked only short distances with a walker and uses a wheelchair the rest of the time. Since he's not physically able to use a urinal in bed, he wears an external catheter (overnight only) and we use a baby monitor for his bedroom. He also wears a regular, referee-type whistle around his neck, day and night, to alert us when he needs something.

The first thing that comes to mind is about your dad's mobility. If he's not exercising and just sitting around all day, how is he avoiding skin ulcers on his posterior? Does he shift his position frequently when he sits in a chair? Does he get up to the bathroom frequently or does he just sit for hours? Our experience with my dad was that his skin was fine during the first years after his TBI when he was going to adult day care 5 days a week, where they were getting him up every hour. But in 2013, when he was no longer able to attend and just sitting around at home, his skin started to break down. An alert agency caregiver noticed this, his dermatologist confirmed it, we scrambled to find a solution, and eventually bought an EASE cushion (a portable alternating air cushion with a pump) for his recliner and wheelchair, as well as a ROHO overlay via Amazon for his mattress. Problem solved. Every situation is different. I would suggest confirming with his doctor that his skin is currently okay and taking steps at home to keep it that way. As you may already know, a skin ulcer can take months (or longer) to get rid of once it becomes one. (Also, regular visits to a good podiatrist--and possibly an orthotist--now may help him avoid serious foot issues down the road.)

Regarding your dad's not wanting to exercise because he then feels too weak to walk, has he already had physical therapy and/or occupational therapy as recommended by his doctor? Has he been examined by his doctor recently and has the doctor confirmed he should continue the exercises? If so, perhaps your dad is just having trouble understanding how it works with muscle weakness--that when the muscles are out of condition it can be normal to feel weak after exercising, but that without exercise this is just going to get worse. Is it possible he just needs re-assurance from a health professional to feel confident that he can work through the problem he's having? (I know that muscle weakness was a very hard concept for me to understand years ago when I was working through a repetitive stress injury of my own; after various treatment the RSI pain went away, but by then I had become so weak in my shoulders and arms, since due to the pain at the time I had stopped doing the least little thing, even the dishes. I could barely brush my teeth. This got even worse till I had x-rays to confirm I had no shoulder injury. Then I started doing the recommended exercises with free weights and worked up from lifting 10.5 oz soup cans to eventually 5-10 pound weights over a period of months. But during those months it was so hard. I'd lift my little soup cans for two sets of 10 reps and then be too weak in my upper body to do anything else for a few hours--or sometimes a day or two.

Three things that have saved me from complete caregiver overwhelm over the past 2-1/2 years I've been with my parents are 1) being organized with my various lists, 2) staying one step ahead of problems that tend to crop up with my parents' health and so on, and 3) setting limits on what I will do.

Get as much (good) caregiving help for your dad as you can and/or adult day care, especially since with you and your sister both working you'll likely otherwise burn out fast. Some adult day care centers offer showers. Day care can be fairly affordable, considering all the care they provide. Someone else posted about getting a bath aide through Medicare. We did try this with my dad for a while but currently are using agency caregivers for showers. Hope your Dad's VA benefits will eventually be helpful for home care.

Regarding your own health, this is where the setting limits part is pretty important. There have been times over the past years that I've had to say no to one thing or another. Like when my chest starts feeling tight cause of all the stress I'm under. That's the time I take a step back. Could I thaw something out of the freezer for lunch or go to Subway instead of cooking from scratch that day? Could I ask my sister to stay with mom and dad for a couple hours while I catch a movie or hang out with some friends? You know yourself best. Figure out what works for you and find a way to get there in a way that will work for your dad and your sister. Sometimes it just takes patience with yourself and with each other to work through a family issue and find the solution that no one had thought of but that will be acceptable to all parties involved.

I think it's really hard for us as children sometimes to see things from our parents' perspective--the loss of independence, the sadness of not being able to think as clearly or to walk without a cane or a walker. I know this has been true for me. My mom and dad and I have regular 'health meetings' once or twice a month, where we discuss various aspects of their health (having regular bowel movements, daily dry eye treatment, and other stuff we're managing at home) as well as how they feel their care is going. During these discussions I also ask if there's anything special they'd like me to cook more often, is there anywhere special they'd like to go this week, is there anything they'd like to talk about that's bothering them about their care, and so on.

Also, other times I have found that when my dad is not wanting to do something he's supposed to do, that it helps to offer something in return. Like recently my dad didn't want to do exercises that his doctor wanted him to do to recondition himself from winter (we live in the snowy Midwest and don't get out as much in winter). I suggested that Mom might be willing to buy him the new electric shaver he wanted for his upcoming birthday... if he would just agree to do his new exercises regularly. It worked--because he wanted the shaver badly enough. Is there a 'shaver' you could offer Dad?

You sound like an intelligent, caring person who is doing her best to help her family. Very best wishes to you and bless your heart for your love for your dad.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

If your Dad is Medicare eligible, and you have his doctor write an order for it, you should be able to have someone come to your home to bathe him a few times a week without any cost to you.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

When were you able to get to this point? I'm just not happy. Love my Mom but don't like this dementia. One minute she knows where her b/r is and an hour later can't find it. Hate feeling the way I do but its always just me. My daughter was pregnant at 15 so no grandmom on the other side who was involved to give me some time to myself. My MIL never involved with my girls. With this GS other grandmother works and grandfather not comfortable taking care of a little one. So, no sharing there. I do have a great husband. Hopefully Spring will help.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Ah, this brings back memories. My heart is with you. My dad, who passed at 89 last August, was a vet as well. We wanted to help him remain as independent as possible, but brought in as much help as he would tolerate to keep him clean and safe. He was also a bit of a fall risk, so between my husband and I, and an aunt, we were checking on him often.

As my dad's health declined a little more, I asked his doctor to put him on hospice early. It's not a death sentence nor does it incur negative karma, but we were able to get my dad some extra help and visits from a nurse, a (male) health care aide, a PT/OT, etc.. If the six months were to elapse, he would have been re-reviewed and another round of hospice would be in order. I also brought in a caregiver husband and wife team, who were able to check on Dad, plus stay during the evening to morning hours.

Between his medical plan (Medicare in your area?) and/or his primary physician, you can check to see if this is a possible route for you. The biggest thing I learned was that it was better to ask for help and have professional caregivers step in, so that I could be a daughter to my father instead of trying to be everything and everybody.

It's an emotional roller coaster and slippery slope. My mom passed in 2010 and the experience taught me to do my best, stay present and cherish what little time we had left, and to not beat myself up. I promised myself to do the same for my dad - to take care of him, get more help before burning out, take little breaks, and stay as present as possible.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Sorry, I would feel uncomfortable washing my Dad. I pay a friend of my daughters to shower my Mom. She is an aide. Your Dad must get SS. I would use whatever money he has for his care. Mom gets $200 a month in pension. I use that for whatever she needs. Right now her SS is taking care of a house she still owns. Please don't feel guilty about taking time for urself. Your sister has that option too. Not ur fault that she doesn't take advantage of it.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

No way! My sister's stood their ground, if I did not bathe my mother and take care of her bathroom issues they were not going to help in anyway. My mother-in-law expected me to help in the shower too. My sister's constantly accused me of not doing enough. At one point I hung a big chart in the dining room. I had all chores equally divided. I hired a "at home care" company to come in for three hours, $60 (their minimum) a week for the shower. They also did mom's laundry and house cleaning. After a while I had 24hr. care in the home for her. My sisters still complained. In fact, no matter what I did they complained. That was our whole relationship, them harping on me, never thanking me, and not helping at all, because I would not change my mother's Depends. I am a modest person and it is not in my nature to be cruel in return. They wanted my brother's to change the Depends also and the sister's constantly complained about them too. I came to realize no matter how much I did, they were still going to be mean to me. Finally we put my mom in a facility and it changed my life 100% for the better. My sister's will never talk to me again, and that's okay, they are toxic. My mother's care in the facility was wonderful, my brothers and their children would visit everyday and they loved it. When your life is turned upside down and you are not happy, its time for a change, a big change. You deserve to be happy, so does your sister. Its time to send dad off to a place with skilled workers, and time for you to enjoy yourself again. My mother enjoyed the place, the food, the entertainment, the assistance she received and her small apartment, furnished with her things. That made my sisters even more angry and they refused to visit her, until the end after we notified them. Last thing my mom heard out of them was yelling at us and the lovely nurses, they left in a huff after 15 minutes and never told my mom they love her or said goodbye. Understand that you can't make others be grateful and happy, but you can take the steps to make yourself happy again. Pick up the phone and check out all the places near you, I was pleasantly surprised and it was the best thing for my mom, my husband, my children, my brothers, their young children and myself. We wished we did it five years earlier!
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Just hang on a minute. You have your sister LIVE with you, you have your ailing Dad LIVE with you and YOU are feeling guilty? No no no no no - it seems to me that far from guilty you should definitely feel able to control the situation but it will take determination. If your sister wants to continue living there then she has to abide by house rules and that is sleep elsewhere than the dining room. Its YOUR house stamp your authority but just be aware that if she chose to move out you would be down an income and down a support. However that may not be a worse situation than you are in now.

I am a great advocate of picking your battles - no point exerting a lot of energy into a lost cause so when she next suggests that you do more TELL her what you are going to do and TELL her what she is going to do. You could say that by sleeping in the same room as him she is depriving herself of sleep which is not acceptable (if you want to wrap it up nicely although I wouldnt bother) When all is said and done she might pay rent but she has no responsibility attached. You on the other hand hold all the responsibility. Feeling guilty? Pffft take control and feel good about yourself you are L'Oreal - ie youre worth it
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Articles
Related
Questions