Caring for ill parent while coping with well parent

normal Caring for ill parent while coping with well parent

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Just popping in
Posts: 1
Hi everyone.....I need some thoughts and advice about the situation I am about to describe.
My dad will be 98 in November..he has severe arthritis and moderate congestive heart problems; he is wheelchair/bed ridden, but has no dementia, although he does not communicate a lot unless asked a question. My mother is almost 89, in reasonably good health for her age, with no apparent dementia; (she communicates too good!); she still does light housework and helps cook regularly for the two of them, as they live alone. Actually, the only time they are on their own is about 3 hours in the afternoon, and at night. Even then, my two brothers are a phone call and less than 2 minutes away. Neither is retired, but one has a home-based business and is usually closeby if needed when no one else is with our parents. Homehealth care comes 5 mornings a week, and we have a part-time employee who comes 2 weekdays for 6 hours each. I live 20 miles away, but am there 4 days a week for an average of 4-5 hours each day, plus covering whenever my brothers have to be elsewhere.
My brothers and I do the biggest part of Daddy's personal care you all know, home health care only spends an hour a day, and we have mostly done all of it before they get there!! My mother does feed him for supper most of the time, when he doesn't feel up to doing it himself.I catch all of the housework, like daily laundry and the heavy cooking, on the days that the part-time lady isn't there. Now for the problem that I need advice with:
My mother is one of those controlling, domineering types who wants everything done her way. We know that she feels like she is losing control of her own home, but she, my brothers and I made a strong committment about a year ago to keep my Dad at home as long as we can give him enough care to keep him comfortable, with the understanding that we will do the same for her. She is financially able to have outside help everyday, but adamantly refuses, and gets angry when we remind her that she and Daddy always said the reason they saved was to have money in case they needed special care when they got old. Their aged (85) family doctor is no help at all....we have to fight to even get pain meds for Daddy, and even then, he has warned Mama that they "could be bad for his heart", so she won't let us give them like they should be given. (Our feeling is that Daddy needs to be free of pain regardless). do we do what is best all around in this situation without unduly upsetting our mother? We know that as time goes on, we will have to have more help until such time as we have to consider nursing home or hospice care. My husband is being set up for TKR, and I will be his primary caretaker for 2-3 weeks, but am already worrying about the fact that I can't be in two places at once. Should I even feel any guilt about this, since my mom can afford extra help during that time? Knowing her, she will try to do it herself and end up bedridden, too.
Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Jane B.

Posted on 2003/9/25 18:56

normal Re: Caring for ill parent while coping with well parent

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From: Dallas
Posts: 262
Dear Tonkyii:

Thanks for your question. I'm sorry that you have not gotten a response prior to now. I'm saddened that none of our other visitors have offered any suggestions . I've been under the weather the past couple of days and Barb has been my Guardian Angel. I will probably come back and edit this in a couple of days since I am fairly drugged at the moment and am not sure I'll make any sense.

As to what you have written, you have no reason to feel guilty. Your plate is full and will be full, especially with your husband's prospective surgery. The undercurrent of your message indicates that you feel that the situation as it now stands cannot go on and will only get worse in the days ahead. You fear confronting your mother (rightfully so). But, it seems to me that the situation is demanding more of you and your brothers than you can deliver (if I am understanding you correctly). The best way to do this is usually via a family meeting where you and your brothers present a united front to her. It should be emphasized to her that 1) You cannot keep up the current arrangement, 2) That she will have choices when changes are made (which sitter, companions she likes best, chores she wants to do versus having the sitter do), 3) That while you are open to negotiating exactly how a sitter's involvement may look (hours per day, week, which days, etc.), the involvement of a sitter is not negotiable.

Additionally, how certain are you that your mom does not have dementia? Changes are much more frightening when dementia is involved. Moreover, folks who have dementia may become aggressive much more easily.

What seems abundantly clear is that you are working under enormous stressors that will adversely affect your ability to care for both of your parents in the days ahead unless you are able to reduce those stressors to a more manageable level. You need to take care of yourself and your husband, otherwise the care you do give to your parents will be diluted with greater frustration (at not being able to do all that is asked of you), anger, exhaustion, and lack of personal joy when you are with your parents.

Your mom will likely not understand, and quite possibly will not be really capable of understanding. For her, the status quo probably seems just fine. If you wait for her to understand, valuable time may be lost before she has to adapt because of demands due to your husband's recovery. Also, this may be a good time (if it has not been addressed before) to discuss financial and legal issues. Given what you will be facing in the days ahead, I would encourage you to confer with your brothers, and make sure you all are reading off the same page.

Just a few thoughts. I could be completely off base...It is one thing to say this stuff. It's another thing entirely to have to go through it. I fear that this answer is not sympathetic enough with what you are going through. I cannot imagine keeping up with all the obligations you do each day.

Barb will likely throw in her two cents which will give you a lot more options... I sincerely hope this helps, and if it sounds brusque or unsympathetic, I hope you will chaulk it up to not feeling well. In any case, Tonkyii, our prayers are with you as you seek wisdom... Please keep us posted!

Posted on 2003/9/28 1:47

normal Re: Caring for ill parent while coping with well parent

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Quite a regular
From: Rowlett
Posts: 56
Dear Jane,
After reading your message, I have to say that you, your brothers and family deserve heartfelt "pats on the back" for all the help you have been giving your parents, while trying to honor their wishes and needs. It's really hard when you know what needs to be done for your parent's care and well-being, but find roadblocks every step of the way. I completely agree with Mike (who is feeling a little better today:)) and feel that a family meeting, which concludes with a better understanding of each person's desires and a unified front to present to your mother, is needed at this time. Regarding your wish to not upset your mother with extra help . . .You may want to suggest to your mother that you want to contact a few other agencies to interview a few people ahead of time, just in case you need a backup person(s) to help with your father's care. Then, start having them come in a few times a week and tell your mother that it's important to make sure that you've hired the right person for the job. The point is, you may need do what's best for your father's care while helping your mother feel that she is still the primary caregiver and is needed. As Mike said, keep your mother in the loop by asking her to help with interviewing some of the potential caregivers, encouraging her to continue with as much of the personal care for your father, etc. Lastly, you have to make sure to take care of yourself while caring for so many other people. This may be the hardest part for you, but please believe that it is the most important caregiving that you can do - you can't give what you don't have . . . please let us know how you all are coming along. Sure hope that this helps in some way!
Most sincerely, Barb

Posted on 2003/9/29 9:10

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