Thursday, May 31, 2018

Eldercare Q-A: Dad needs care; Mom won't budge. What do I do?

A client asked me this question a week ago.  More specifically, she said,

"My dad has dementia, and my mom is trying to care for him.  It's not working.  She asks him to take a bath, and he doesn't.  Same with brushing his teeth.  He's not defiant; he just forgets.  Almost immediately. Mom refuses to hire outside caregivers; the only outside caregiver she will accept is me. I work two jobs and can't help any more than I do now.

"They have money.  It's not the issue.  But pride is.  I'm almost wrung out from the stress.  Yes, I love both of them deeply. What can I do?"

My answer to her and to others in the same, or similar boats:  I'm so sorry you are in this difficult situation!   You seem understandably torn, wanting to help your parents while maintaining a sense of sanity. Since your mother is competent, though stubborn, it's impossible to force her to accept help for her husband, either in the home or elsewhere.,

There are some things you can do, though, to make the situation bearable until something changes.

1.  Increase your personal support.  Support groups allow you to vent your feelings, and to hear from others, so you don't feel so alone.  There are Alzheimers Support Groups throughout the country.  They encourage caregivers, both spouses and adult children.  And they offer information and resources.

2.  Visit assisted living communities which have memory care areas, so you can get an idea of what your parent or parents might need when the time comes.  Start with research online to get the basics, and later do on-site visits.

3.  Consider hiring a geriatric care manager.  A geriatric care manager understands the needs of the elderly and of those with dementia specifically.  He or she can ask a lot of questions about your parent's situation and come up with a plan of action that will benefit the entire family.

4.  See if your parents will agree to care on a trial run of home care, or a temporary "respite" stay in an adult family home or heavy care assisted living community.

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