Follow
Share

I should be grateful because everything seems to be in place and he is being cared for in a large nursing facility. He has dementia and is in a wheelchair.


It pulls on my heartstrings so much when I see him and yet we were never a close family. He was my mother's husband. Mom died in 2011. I helped him care for Mom during the last few years o her life as I lived nearby. Now he needs TLC and always tells me he loves me. I feel for him, and am very sad for him. He was never actually a father because my brothers and I were grown up and out on our own when He and Mom met and eventually married. My brothers are not around much and since I still live nearby to his nursing home I am his main contact.


I feel so tired and depressed and I don't know if maybe I just feel sorry for myself or what ! I am more private and introverted than social and also have some of my own medical issues (sciatica, arthritis, and tendonitis plus poor vision) I no longer drive. I am 75 in February. I live alone and am glad that I do, but I sometimes feel lonely.


Sorry for the long rant and venting. Maybe I am just selfish and bitter.


Anyone else have these feelings ?

Maybe paint or draw something special for stepdad? If you have a knack for portraits, maybe copy a photo of your mom - or a photo of him and your mom together? Perhaps landscape/scenery from his hometown - or a place he loved to visit?

This is tough stuff. Even a good visit with a loved one in NH can be a downer on other levels. When you visit a NH, you are surrounded by deterioration. No denying it. And sometimes you notice that you are the only visitor.... right?

Take care of yourself, River. No “self-help book heroics.” Just this:

Once a day, find a good moment. A flower with amazing color. The scent of pine or dead leaves. An interesting cloud. The sound of a bird singing.

If one of your “familiar strangers” (bank teller, convenience store clerk, bus driver, etc) has a fantastic smile, tell him or her.

When you see kindness, acknowledge it. When you don’t see kindness, create it.

Hang in there, River. We’re rooting for you. Keep coming back to AC Forum for support.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to BlackHole
Report
anonymous866059 Dec 11, 2018
Thank you so much.  Your affirmations man a lot.
(0)
Report
It sounds to me that you don’t have many happy social things going, and I have yet to visit a nursing home that cheers me up. Do you belong to a painting group, or do you do it by yourself? The suggestion to paint at the nursing home sounds like a great idea – you get an admiring audience (including staff), and the people there get something to look at. In the nursing home you may even get offered lunch even if it is just the soup!

If you paint in a group, see if you can pall up with someone (or more than one) and bring a small lunch to share. Someone does a sandwich, the other does a home made biscuit. Build on what you already do and make it work better for you – it’s a lot easier than developing a completely new interest. If you paint alone, find a group. Around our way, the groups are free and for ‘doing it together’, not for tuition.

I lost most of my social oomph when we moved to an isolated farm. We now have a place to stay in a small town with lots of things happening (Alice Springs, central Australia), and I have been forcing myself to do the sort of things I am suggesting for you. It seems a bit false when you start, but after a couple of months you will be part of the group and it will work much better. And you will also have many more interesting things to talk about with your step father. Best wishes.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to MargaretMcKen
Report
anonymous866059 Dec 11, 2018
I have problems with being as public as your message suggests, but thanks for taking the time to reply.
(0)
Report
River, I don't think you sound like you've got a poor me attitude at all. It's totally understandable that visiting at a nursing home would make you sad.

When my mom was in the nursing home I felt like I had run a marathon afterwards. Visiting her drained me. Mostly cause I just hated seeing her in that environment. My Mom was always such an alive, vital person and to see her diminished in that way was heartbreaking for me. I wasn't feeling sorry for myself but so sorry for her.

Don't be so hard on yourself. Find something to do where you don't feel so isolated as others have said. Do you like to read? I find losing myself in a book helps me when I'm feeling down. Plus libraries are free if money is tight.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Gershun
Report
anonymous866059 Dec 11, 2018
Thank you. I believe you understand and that in itself is very encouraging.
(0)
Report
Wow, I am always super impressed with painters, it is a gift i wish i had.

Maybe you could volunteer to teach a painting class 1x weekly or biweekly, talk to the activities director and see if they could budget some water colors, cheap brushes and cardboard sheets. It would be such a blessing for the residents that can participate.

You have much you can share, purpose helps us feel better. Use what you have to help your step dad, others and yourself.

Make it a merry Christmas by getting residents to make decorations or gifts, you still have time and i bet it will help you get out of your funk.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
Report
anonymous866059 Dec 11, 2018
That is just not an option for me but thanks for your suggestions.
(0)
Report
I go to Moms nursing home daily for 4 hours. Yes I am sad, and depressed, exercise too little and probably enjoy my wine at night a little too much. When I get home I’m usually mentally if not physically exhausted, especially if it’s been a challenging day. I often just collapse on the couch. It’s just the way it is. These feelings are probably what makes relatives visit less and less. But I do it because I love her and she doesn’t have anyone else to visit and cheer her up.

Somethings I would recommend to make your visits a little more pleasurable may be to check the activity calendar and time your visit with an activity that your stepdad would enjoy and participate with him. The activity people are always happy to see other “adults” at their activities and I try to help out at them as much as I can. Helping setup, getting drinks, just encouraging participation etc., just trying to be helpful and cheerful. It’s amazing how extending myself just a little, cheers me up too! When we are roaming the halls in her wheelchair, I always try to speak with the other residents we encounter, which helps them interact with mom too. I may be the only non-employee that they talk to in a day. Mom always loved to sing so people can always hear us either singingin her room or in the halls, and people join in while we’re rolling along. Silly stuff like You are my Sunshine, Side by Side, Show me the way to go Home, zippety do dah, Ive been working on the railroad. I’m certainly no social butterfly, but I have developed a much heightened empathy for these residents that it seems to give me a better sense of purpose while I’m there. Maybe trying a few of these may help make your visits not so sad, and something you could look forward to.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to rocketjcat
Report

It is a sad situation to see anyone in a NH.

He obviously loved your mom and loved her children, it is truly awesome that you are loving him in his time of need. Your mom is proud of you, I am certain.

One thing that I did with my step-granny when she was in the NH was to bring a soft stuffed animal and we played catch, we usually ended up laughing because we false threw and such stuff, she didn't say much but she could still laugh, so I tried to bring that with me, even though it was so sad to see her there.

Bringing joy and laughter will make it a memorable experience for both of you, what would he get a kick out of? Does he enjoy comedy, get a good joke book or a funny novel and read to him. If he likes poker, bring cards and chips ask others to join in, those kind of things help.

God bless you for loving him and being there for him. You can do this, you can make it a day to look forward to.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
Report
anonymous866059 Dec 9, 2018
Thank you for understanding !
(0)
Report
We are low income as well, so I understand how socializing would involve spending money you don't have. I’ve had to return to work at the age of 65 to help pay bills, and pardon my French, but it truly sucks because I am not in the best of health either. And I also understand about how hard it is to always be positive and “up”. My mother was a Negative Nellie. I inherited it from her. A well-intentioned friend once told me to start s journal and write positive things in it. I tried. I really did. One night, when I’d sat there for fifteen minutes staring at the d**n journal, not being able to think of a single good thing that had happened to me that day, I gave up and threw the book out.

Nursing homes can be depressing places. When you go, when you feel yourself becoming sad and upset, tell your stepfather you need to go and leave.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Ahmijoy
Report
anonymous866059 Dec 9, 2018
Thank you... he is a good and kind man. If I was capable I would care for him myself. He needs lots of people around him all the time and his health care is complex. He is where he needs to be right now but I still feel bad that I can't give him the care that he gave to my mother. Life can be tough at times.
(0)
Report
I agree that the time of year doesn't help. Gets dark early, its drab now Fall is over and Winter setting in. The Sun goes down, so do I.

Doesn't the man have children of his own? How often do you go to see him and for how long? Its nice that you go and I see why brothers don't. He came into your lives when you were adults on your own. Not that bond there you get when children.

If you are going everyday, cut back. Go 2 or 3x a week. If he asks why ur aren't coming more often tell him you no longer drive so its hard getting out. If his Dementia is such his days run into each other than he doesn't know when you have been there.

Its hard at our ages ( I am 69) to make friends. I am finding even my BFF and I have nothing in common anymore. Her and husnand live in a 55 and up active community. My husband being deaf would not enjoy living like that because of his hearing. Me, I am happy with the friends I have.

Try your local library. See what programs they offer. Maybe a book club, knitting class. Bible study at a local Church. Our BS goes to lunch afterwards. My Graduating class has a lunch once a month. Have reconnected with some friends that we do lunch or breakfast. Once done we go home but have enjoyed the time together.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report
anonymous866059 Dec 9, 2018
I have a hobby or pastime that I love. I paint and draw in watercolours and acrylic.
I don't have enough income to "do lunch".
I realize that socializing helps. I am going to work on it. Thanks for your reply.
Low income and physical pain make big differences to many people.
(1)
Report
It’s possible you are putting yourself in his place thinking, “That could be me in a few years.” Because you are somewhat of a recluse, you may have too much time to think and ruminate on things. It’s not my place to say force yourself to go out and be social. That wouldn’t be something I’d do either. But 75 is not too old to find a hobby you enjoy. One thing I enjoy is putting together “fairy gardens”, little houses, plants and fairy figures. It’s like playing with a doll house. Volunteering may also be something you’d enjoy.

You may also also want to consider sharing some of the responsibility with your siblings. Just because they don’t live close doesn’t mean they can’t handle some of the responsibilities, call him frequently and spell you occasionally.

This can also be a difficult time of the year for us caregivers. Even if you don’t celebrate the season, it’s everywhere and hard to ignore. And the weather, at least here in Cleveland, Ohio can be enough to depress anyone.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Ahmijoy
Report
anonymous866059 Dec 9, 2018
Thank you for your reply.
I only visit him about once a week. I do agree that this time of year makes things more difficult with all the Joy and Goodwill happening.
I just think I might be oversensitive and yes I do fear that it could be me one day. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a sunny and optimistic nature and I personally find that always being politically correct and "UP" is false. I try, but it doesn't always work.
I do watercolour painting and also acrylics and drawing. I was in a painting group and dropped out because of fumes from perfumes and cleaning materials. Anyway, maybe this Spring life will be brighter.
My siblings are not anywhere nearby at all. Long story.
I honestly think I need to get over my "poor me" attitude especially after reading so many other troubles here in these Forums. So thanks for posting everyone. It helps in ways you may not realize.
(1)
Report

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter