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The question portion is rather vague, but I would like to explain what's going on with my family and ask for advice, guidance, or support from someone who is experiencing a similar phenomenon.

My father is 80 years. My mother is 63 years. They've been married for 36 years. To bring you up to speed with their relationship, they've always fought and disagreed on many subjects, but at the end of the day their marriage prevailed and they've battled through the long haul. My father has always been a recluse, and my mother a socialite. This hasn't posed a problem aside from my father starting to be lonely as the years went on.

For the past few years my father has been aging. His memory is short, hearing low, patience low, and he waddles when he walks. It's almost unbearable being with him sometimes as he can be rude, loud, abrasive, and almost disrespectful when we are in public (for example, dining at a restaurant). He gets upset when things aren't going his way. This makes him extremely hard to deal with.

My mother has been vivacious until the past year. I think her age, in combination with my fathers state has exhausted her. She's told me that she doesn't really enjoy his company any longer, but she's realized her fate and will live with knowing she is here to take care of him, etc.

So I am asking you, the public a few questions. What do you think is wrong with my father? What could be done? And what should my mom do? She still has a lot of kick in her, and I'd hate to think the latter part of her life is disrupted because she feels required to tend to my father.

As I've been spending time with them lately, I'm saddened. I see my father constantly repeating his thoughts to my mom, and rarely having more than one or two topics on his mind. I see my mother trapped. I see them both depressed in different ways.

I know my description is not the most pristine, but any help would be much appreciated.

Thank you.

Fondly,
Nervous child

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I would agree that your father probably has dementia. I would suggest that if you would like to see your mom being herself to give her a day away from your dad. If she wants to stay and take care of him she is going to need some support and sometimes that involves just simply getting out of the house and away from the situation. Offer to stay with him for a day or a weekend while she goes out with friends or family. She needs to make sure to stay herself and not define herself as just his caregiver. Caregiving is a full time job and it is very hard. Make sure that she gets the support that she needs. Talk to her often and listen to her needs.
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This is a bad situation. You can do things to make it a little better, as suggested by others. You can encourage Mom to get help so she can get out by herself some. But you do not have superpowers. Your main job is to provide love, comfort and support to your mother. That is how to succeed. You can also succeed by doing useful things, but your most important job is the trite saying, being there for her.

You have my sympathy. I know my crabby father's behavior shortened my mother's life, and I couldn't change that. I just kept on loving them both.
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First, the way you describe your father brings dementia to mind. Obviously none of us are qualified to give you a diagnosis -- even the doctors on this site wouldn't do that from a brief description by a nervous child. But the fact is, something is going on with Dad that should be evaluated by someone competent to make a diagnosis or to refer Dad to a specialist. This will not make everything all better, but it is a necessary first step toward a treatment plan.

And when the situation is a little clearer, then Mom has some choices to make. It sounds like your parents have believed in their marriage all these years, in spite of many differences. Don't be surprised if your "trapped" mother decides to take care of her husband until death parts them. There is more than one way this can happen, of course. Try to support her whatever she decides is best.

When my husband was 80 I was 61. He had had dementia for 4 years at that point. I chose to take care of him at home. It was a very tough 10-year journey. Knowing what I know now, I would make the same decision again (but I would get more help, earlier, and have more respite.) I had support from my husband's three daughters and my two sons. I've seen situations where the caregiving spouse got lots of stress from family members -- a really unnecessary tragedy.

The first step is to get competent medical diagnosis. Your next step (in my opinion) should be to support your mother's decisions in any way you can.
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There is nothing wrong with your father, his demeanor is fairly typical. He should NOT be driving anymore, but good luck with getting him to stop. If he will let you, go with him to the MD and discuss what is happening. He will be mad, but discuss it anyway. The MD may want to change medications or order more tests. Encourage Mom to hire a housekeeper one day a week and let that be her day off. If dad objects, tell him wives are entitled to a little retirement too.
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