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My father is trying to care for my 90 year old mother with dementia. My mother has long-term health insurance, a nice policy that covers home care, which we have arranged daily. They take good care of my mom and the time they are there is supposed to free up my father so he can do some things he enjoys. But, instead, he hovers. He calls me at least 25 times a day, starting at 7:00 a.m. to report how she peed, pooped and what she ate. Then he panics at the slightest deviation, a slight drop in her blood pressure, or if she makes a funny face, etc. Yesterday he wanted me to pick up a prescription for him, while the CNA was at the house. He drives. The pharmacy is down the street from his home, but 10 miles away from me. He called me and asked that I do it. I told him I would do it when I got out to do my errands, which I wasn't ready to do yet, I was waiting for the 5:00 traffic to die down. He called me back 3 times and the last time was very irrational and demanded that I do it now, "she's your mother, don't you care?" So, I dropped everything and got her medication, which was a med given at bedtime. (It was 4:45 in the afternoon.) He makes demands on me daily, and the CNAs have called me and told me "don't let him guilt you into doing something we can do." He knows I'm unavailable on Tuesdays until 1:00 p.m. And every Tuesday like clockwork he calls me in a panic about something the CNA can handle. This time he thought her blood pressure had dropped too low. Instead of waiting 30 minutes and taking it again, which was what was recommended, he called 911 and the EMTs took her to to the ER, and of course her blood pressure was normal and she was fine. Then, he wanted me to drop everything and drive up to the ER, pick them up (he had driven behind the ambulance and had his car), and drive my mom home. I refused. I called MedRide and he will have to wait 2 hours until they arrive. He's not happy, but this whole ordeal is consuming my life. I've had to cut way back on my work to accommodate his demands. We have the care set up, it's lovely care with a company we feel very comfortable with. It's also paid for by her insurance. I go with my parents to all their doctors appointments, and help whenever I can or if there is a true emergency. Is being at his beck and call something I am expected to do? As he says "It's your mother, and this is women's work." My dad and I have had a good relationship up until now, but it turns into constant arguing and bickering now and this really isn't how I want to remember our relationship. I'm trying to find a balance. Suggestions?

Your father's behavior sounds like more like anxiety than willful actions to me. When I look back now I realize anxiety was behind my mother's actions when she first started calling me during working hours over stuff we could have discussed that evening. This was the first real sign of my mother's cognitive issues which were diagnosised as MCI a couple of years later. Like your father, my mother was caring for a spouse with dementia. Consider discussing a mild anti-anxiety medication for your father with his PCP. The stress he is under caring for your mother, even with in home help, can be reason enough to cause anxiety at his age.
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Tressie14 Dec 3, 2019
One of the nurses had mentioned an anti-anxiety for my father. I'll bring this up with him. Thanks.
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Your dad is pushing himself too hard. He is an old man caring for an old woman that he loves very much.

You can’t keep up with his demands. They probably both need to be placed somewhere given their age. Stop stalling. Stop arguing with him. You have had a good relationship until now because of stress related to caregiving. So eliminate the source of stress and go back to being their daughter.

I know it’s hard. I cared for my mom in my home for just about 15 years and my mom and dad in their home for many years. So I get it. I can’t imagine being in your dad’s shoes and doing it in his 90’s!

It’s time for him to have a break from caregiving! This is entirely too much for all of you. I don’t care if he has a CNA at home it is too much anxiety for him to endure around the clock. The CNA can’t do as much as an entire staff can. Please place them both asap. Or at least your mom so you and dad can get a break.

Your dad may be sexist. My whole family was and lucky me, I am the only daughter! I’m being sarcastic of course, I was anything but lucky! My point is that you are not going to change his behavior at this point in his life. You can change his atmosphere though. One thing at the time. Step by step you can be proactive.

If I could change anything I would go back and instead of being lost and complaining, I would listen to the advice given to me on this forum which was to let go! I am telling you because you have the opportunity to make positive changes now.
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Tressie14 Dec 3, 2019
I'm an only child too, only daughter. My husband had 2 brothers, me and one of the brother's wives to help with his parents. My husband does help with mine, but there's only so much he can do, as my father is definitely sexist. I have made an appointment to visit an assisted living center. Dad has promised he will go with me. Fingers crossed.
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I agree it sounds like your dad may be exhibiting some early dementia, I know anxiety has been a big problem for my mom. But that doesn't mean it can't be worked with, talking to his PCP is a great step but helping him direct some of that pent up anxiety and giving him some boundaries to work with, training him may be as important for both of you. You need to let yourself off the hook too. Fighting with him is likely to make him dig in more rather than convince him of the sense you are making so if you can step back when you feel yourself getting frustrated with him and think about his reaction as something he doesn't really have control over, it isn't just that he isn't going to change, he simply may not have any sense of how unreasonable he's being or ability to reel it in.

The next time he has something that "needs to be done now" he wants you to do just tell him you aren't able to right now but you are sure (CNA) can take care of it and after all it's what she's paid for! Maybe going along with his belief only you as her daughter can take care of this and that by dropping everything and doing it is only reinforcing that. He is comfortable with you, trusts you and knows Mom does too and maybe as much as he likes the CNA's he hasn't gotten comfortable relying on them yet and needs a little help making that adjustment. "I can take care of that at the end of the day Dad but if you feel it needs to be done sooner why don't you ask Sally. I'm also wondering if perhaps his world has gotten a bit too small since your mom's decline, all kinds of reasons he might not feel right leaving her but finding him something he enjoys either outside the house or inside (stamps, woodworking, cards with the guys...) something to put some of his focus on instead of all on your mom.

The other thing you could and probably should do is take a long weekend away for yourself but also so you aren't available and he has no choice but to rely on the CNA's who of course always have a direct line to you but if dad calls with nothing from them you can let it go to VM and say you were at the pool or hiking or something. You may be as attached to caring for them as he is to having you do it, I know it can be very hard to let go a little after a big medical event with mom that has had us consumed 24/7 with her for weeks or months. A break now that your parents have caregivers in place you are all happy with might help both you and your dad break some of that cycle.
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Tressie14 Dec 4, 2019
All of this makes total sense. He called me today wanting to know how to get my mom bathed, while the CNA was there. He knows they do this, and I heard the CNA tell him "I'll be glad to do that for her." It may just be habit, to call and ask me for help, when the help he needs is right there. He's either exhausted or some dementia is setting in with him as well. Thank goodness for these CNAs (and this forum). I'm impressed at how patient the CNAs are, and how they recognize what is going on between myself and my father and their ability to work with both of us. I guess they see this all the time.
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There is nothing wrong with a little fibbing sometimes,, like the battery on my phone died, or I left in my car by accident... Or my work has a new rule about no phones at work?
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Wow, dad is really pushing you hard. It's time for you to set some overdue boundaries. Here are a few to consider:

When he has helpers, he is not to call you. If there is a true emergency, the help can call you.

If you answer the phone while the aids are there, tell him that you can not do that and that the aid will have to do it. I suggest turning your phone off to give yourself periods of peace.

Best of luck!

You don't have to explain why you are not doing it, just simply that you are not doing it. Plain and simple. Or that you can't do it.

Talk to the aids about this so they know what to expect.

What is your dad's condition like? Is he OK? Seems like he might have some anxiety or other issues going on himself. OCD? 25 calls a day? Not OK.
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Tressie14 Dec 3, 2019
The aids have been good about backing me up, and even calling me and telling me not to give in to him. My dad definitely has anxiety issues, and I am going to see if we can get him some anti-anxiety meds. I tried turning my phones off, and I then get a guilt trip about "are you afraid to talk to me, are you avoiding me? when I finally do answer. I'm going to be working on boundaries, and just have to get brave and tell him that yes, I have to avoid his calls to get some peace and quiet. AL sounds really good, I think they would like it if I can get him on board.
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"This is women's work?". Does dad think it's 1919, not 2019? Did your mom wait on him hand and foot when she was able? Some men are 'babied' their whole lives, by their moms and then by their wives-- prevalent in his generation, I guess. He's expecting you to pick up where your mom has had to leave off, doing the work she used to do, because all women are innate caretakers.

He does expect you to be at his beck and call. It's good you've put your foot down sometimes! It doesn't look like a balance will be feasible if this is his attitude. It's not okay for him to pull manipulative guilt trips like "don't you care about your mother?". When it really has nothing to do with you caring about your mother. What he means is "Don't you want to help me the second I tell you?".

I'm guessing they're both resistant to AL. Since dad keeps calling, suggest to him maybe taking care of mom is too much for him to handle, and maybe it's time they moved into AL. He won't like that suggestion, but... inform him that the constant calls, not letting CNAs help, and panicking at the slightest thing makes you think he is in over his head, and you will check out some AL facilities (since he's so busy, you know). He will likely freak out, but... this can be an incentive to stop the antics, or at least tone it down.

Next time he wants something RIGHT NOW that either he or the CNA can handle, tell him you can't. No explanation needed. "I can't right now." Can offer to come by at a time that works for you.
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Tressie14 Dec 3, 2019
My father tends to be a little sexist (a little?). Have made an appointment to visit assisted living, he's promised he'll go. We'll see. I definitely need to set boundaries. I do tend to try to over-explain why I can't jump and run every time he asks for something. That needs to stop, and I can stop answering his phone calls when I know the CNA is there.
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My first thought was that your Dad may be going down the dementia highway himself here! It may only be anxiety he's exhibiting, but boy howdy, that's some level of anxiety!!

If I were you, I'd tell him I can talk on the phone twice a day; once at X time and again at X time. After a month, I'd cut it down to once per day. All the other calls from him need to go unanswered, straight to voice mail. He'll get the hint eventually. Leave word with the CNAs that they are to call you if anything urgent happens to mom. That way, you will KNOW that all the other calls coming in from dad are just worry calls and nothing urgent.

As far as "This is your mother don't you care" and this is 'Women's work" is concerned, tell your father Gee Sorry Dad, I have a JOB to Do Here and I work from 8 am - 5 pm each day & CANNOT be Disturbed. Period. That is what I tell my mother so she knows I'm not at her beck & call all the time.

It's good that you're looking into Assisted Living for both of them. Try to find a place that also has a memory care section/building as well, in case mom needs to go there, that way dad can either move with her or stay in their room at the regular ALF. Most couples do not live together in Memory Care if only one is suffering from dementia.

I can tell you the best thing I ever did, especially as an only child, was to place both of my folks in Assisted Living after dad fell and broke his hip in 2014. He wound up passing away in 2015 but my mother was developing dementia and there was NO WAY I'd be taking her in to live with me, so she's been very well cared for this whole time in the ALF and now in Memory Care.

Try to get through to dad that mom does not require micro-management. The CNAs are there to care for her, and if there is an urgent problem, they will be the first to call 911; that HE does not have to do their jobs FOR them. Sending mom over to the ER every time she has a blood pressure fluctuation is going to create a TRUE crisis in short order!! Sigh.

Best of luck!!!
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Just don't answer his calls when the the CNA is there, and you know Mom's being taken care of.
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Boundries. Don't answer the phone when u know aids are there. Tell Dad they are the pros. He needs to rely on them.

Explain that the med was not an emergency. If it was, you would have dropped everything. But he needs to realize that you can't just drop everything. Really, u did good telling him u would pick it up when u went out.

I would also tell him that as ur Moms husband it is his responsibility to care for Mom. That you are there for him and Mom but as back up. There is no such thing as "womans work" anymore.
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Tressie14 Dec 3, 2019
That "woman's work" thing just really rubs me the wrong way. He's wanted me to spend the night, which I absolutely refuse to do. I need to continue to define more boundaries. Thanks.
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I would have to agree with TNtechie. Your dad's behavior sounds like it is anxiety driven. Anti-anxiety drugs should help. Your dad sounds like he is overwhelmed with caring for your mom. Plus, he is probably full of fear about losing your mom. Perhaps you should talk to your dad and maybe you both can come up with a plan on who does what and when. Men feel better when they have an action plan! Also telling him that you will be with him through this no matter what happens. Give him some reassurance that he is not alone. This should help with his fears.

Just try to set some boundaries; let him know mom is in good hands with the CNA; come up with a action plan, and give him some reassurance that you are there for your mom and for him! Perhaps some anti-anxiety meds.

Just my 2 cents!
Good luck!
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