My mom is extremely attached to my dad who is her caregiver. What can I do to help this?


He can barely breath and I feel bad. Any suggestions?

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Theresemarie, my boss' wife had Alzheimer's for 15 years and only in the later years did she need around the clock care. He, too, vowed he would never put her into a higher level of care facility. Her Alzheimer's was easy going, no mood swings or outbursts.

My boss did have his wife in Adult Day Care for about a year and she enjoyed herself there. Then he needed to hire a caregiver for 12 hours each day so he could be at work, and thankfully his wife bonded with the caregiver. What a relief !!

Since my boss wanted to do the evening shift himself, he found himself getting 2 or 3 hours of sleep at night. His wife would shadow him everywhere. He was constantly having to get up in the middle of the night to wash sheets, bed clothing, and shower his wife whenever the Depend type garments and bed pads had failed.

As for moving in with your parents. You need to think long and hard about that. ;  Your Mom's Alzheimer's will get worse, and your Dad might develop a health issue that needs constant care. Dad needs to start to think about using his savings to bring in part-time caregivers [mainly the same person each day] so help him lighten the load.

My Dad was in a very lovely Assisted Living/Memory Care facility, and he loved it there, the place was like a hotel. He had around the clock care, and he enjoyed all the attention. Now his memory issues were mild, so that probably made it easier for him. It was expensive, but worth every penny knowing he was in good hands.
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theresemarie, is your mother shadowing your father or does she just want him to be with her when they do things. Shadowing can be a real problem that can happen in later stages of Alzheimer's. I feel so sorry for caregivers who are going through it, even more than the people who have the dementia.

People with dementia also can become attached to people, like they are their security blanket. My mother is like this with me. She won't go anywhere unless I am with her. She doesn't want visitors unless I am there to talk, too. She is afraid of being confused and unable to talk to them, I believe. I am her security blanket. I don't know if there is any way to break the strong need, because it is like having a hold on safety. It may be like that with your mother. Can you tell us a bit more?
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If your lovely father doesn't want his beloved wife ever to go into a home, then he has *got* to start taking care of himself too. Don't want to be cruel, but what happens to her if anything happens to him, hmmm? You might want to point that out to him very gently. The money he has responsibly set aside won't be any substitute for him as far as your mother's concerned. Better to use it now to buy in extra support for them both.

So, he needs to be open-minded about whatever you can arrange for the two of them - either to 'age in place' (as I believe is the current term for it) or possibly, as your mother's dementia inevitably progresses, through moving together to a facility that offers continuing care.

Ideally, there needs to be regular respite for him, too. Daily, so that he has time for a nap and a shower in peace; weekly, so that he can see friends or go to a game or do whatever he feels like for a few hours; and every so often a whole week to recharge his batteries. As there are two of you, could he come and stay with one daughter while the other moves in temporarily with mother?
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Before you move in - read stories on this site! Especially if you have children. Also don't plan on taking care of your mom yourself if something happens to your dad - read the horror stories on this site of the good intentions that lead to a hellish living arrangement for everyone.

There are things you can do to help your dad. Find out what he has on his plate. If you are near - can you give him a break, or take mom to the doctor or something like that? Of can you help with some of the house chores?
When my stepmom took care of my dad 7x24 - I would give her one weekend a month break. It was not nearly enough - but it was a God-send to her for her sanity. While I was there, I tried to look around and see what might need to be done - and while dad slept or watched cowboy movies - I would clean, do laundry, cook several batches of meals that she could reheat. Or things like window cleaning, mowing the lawn. My step-mom was nearly 80 and was getting exhausted herself. So in addition to giving her time away, taking some of the housework off her also helped. Plus, when I was in my small home town and someone would ask about them, I would tell them that she was housebound and could really use some small favors like picking up medicine, a few groceries, a few hours to herself. Often her friends would call and offer - and she was grateful, but shy about asking herself.

I think it is two fold - helping your dad get breaks to recharge and seeing what load you might take off him.

All of this lead to interesting conversations with my healthy, lazy mom - "my apartment could use some cleaning but you never offer....." All good deeds give you a whack in the behind!
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Realize that your dad probably wants to care for his wife. I wanted to care for my husband. But no one can do it all without help. Convince him that taking some time for himself, even if Mom fusses about it, will enable him to care for her better and longer. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and if he truly wants to keep her out of a care center as long as he can, then he absolutely needs to take care of himself. Better that Mom should fuss a couple times a week than he should have to give up keeping her at home a couple of years earlier than if he'd taken good care of himself.

Another option to consider is Adult Day Health Program (day care). She could go to this "club" from 9 to 3 (or different hours) a day or two a week, giving her some new experience and stimulation, and Dad some predictable time to himself.

And, yes, dementia is indeed extremely sad for the entire family.
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Wow thank you so much for responding this helps me tremendously! I can absolutely help my dad. My sister and I were thinking about taking my mom to bingo nights or something on a regular basis to give my dad free time but she's starting to not want to do anything unless of course my dad is taking her somewhere which he is always doing. I think about them constantly and it's truly killing me and breaking my heart. I worry every second of the day about both of their health and my dad's mental health and I feel like I can't ever do enough.
I'm even thinking about asking my dad if he would like me and my family to move in because I'm in the process of buying a home but I keep putting it off in case the alzheimers gets so bad he can't handle it on his own any longer. One thing my dad said he will never do is put my mother in a home. He has been putting money away for us to take care of her at home in case anything happens to him. This is so sad my mom was always such a strong and independent woman all my life and now she seems so weak!
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Are you able to fill in for him on a regular schedule? Wednesday evening so he can go bowling? Saturday mornings so he can meet his pals for breakfast?

Your mother might not like having you there as well as she likes having Dad there, but I have a feeling she might accept you better than a stranger. Of course this assumes you live nearby and have some time to contribute.

Or bring in outside help on a regular basis. I used a volunteer agency to provide someone a few hours a week. And later I used an agency to provide more help each week.

Persons with dementia typically have strong opinions about who should care for them. But your dad deserves some consideration and some time to himself as well. And no one, NO ONE can provide 24/7 dementia care 365 days a year and retain their sanity. Keeping your dad sane and able to care for your mother is a very important goal!
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