Caring for Dad

by Ann
(Dedham, MA USA)

Dad is 91, and has been reasonably well given his age. He lives with me. I am a 60 y/o RN who was forced to take early retirement because of back problems.

He has just begun to have problems with incontinence of both bowel and urine. He gets to the bathroom, but doesn't "make it" on time.

He's having increasing problems ambulating and has had numerous falls. He's mentation has slowed, and he's nearly deaf. I am alone caring for him. He's eating very little and is generally declining. I never get out of the house with the exception of my own doctor appointments. We have food delivered.

The stress has reached unbearable levels, and I am obsessed with worrying about him falling and injuring himself. He's on a blood thinner, so I know that if he does fall, the potential for serious injury is very high.

My own back pain adds to the intense stress of trying to care for Dad. We don't have enough money to hire an outside caretaker, nor can we afford assisted living/nursing home care. I have two brothers, one of whom lives too far away to help at all, and the other, who is retired and lives within 30 minutes of me, just doesn't help.

I feel incredibly alone and worry constantly about Dad. Where do I go? Who do I have to vent to or to express my fears/concerns? It's terrible.

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Caring for Dad
by: Anonymous

Tell your retired brother "caring is sharing"
and whether he likes it or not he has to do his share...tell him that you are not are telling him........your dad is the responsibility of all his children.....that live close by......

Tell him that dad can live with you 4 days and he has to take him 3 days every week.This way you all have a bit of "me time" and time to recover......tell him that if you don't get any help from him and something happens to you.........he will have to care for him 24/7
and don't take NO for an answer..... be strong....

I have had to do the same, but as long as you are willing to do it on your own he will let you...
God Bless

There Are Resources
by: Anonymous

Dear Ann,

What you are doing is so very hard. I don't have near the isolation that you do and caring for my 87 year old mother is a full time 24/7 job.

Although my own children and husband do what they can, they have jobs and school and young adult lives. I feel the desperation in your words and my heart goes out to you. As caregivers we have to push so much down inside to just take care of the tasks at hand. These tasks never end if we are caregiving at home.

I would think that your father may qualify for medicaid assistance for the low income. I realize that a nursing home may not be what you would want for him, but perhaps there might be some respite care through a medicaid approved home.

If you father has a family physician, you can request a home health evaluation which would give you at least some short term support. Physical therapy, occupational therapy and a social worker. I never knew that I could request this until my mom had a serious UTI last fall. She recovered from that...and went on to another UTI in January. Both times I requested a home health evaluation...and both times her doctor ordered them.

She qualified for a wheel chair, bedside commode and a wound prevention mattress and hospital bed. It sounds to me like your father would qualify for the same from what you describe. One of the helpful things was being able to speak with a social worker who put me in contact with respite care in our area.

I know how tired and discouraged you feel. I get it. But, try to let your father's doctor know the situation and pursue a home health evaluation. You may be surprised at the resources he qualifies for under both medicare and medicaid.

Sibling that don't help
by: Anonymous

I've been living/caring for my elderly mom for about 8 years. She fractured her shoulder 4 years ago, and then her hip two years ago, so I can understand your fears. My mom didn't really fall that often, just each time she fell it was that serious. Furthermore she has had mental issues since I can remember, so now I think her falls have been drug induced (too many psychotropic drugs).

I can understand well what you are going through. We are and live in South America, but despite system differences, many things are very alike. I work full time, but by now my mom needs 24/7 supervision (her dementia symptoms have worsened the last few months), so she has a permanent sitter (plus somebody to help with housekeeping).

So far I afforded it mainly out from my pocket, but it has me drained from every point of view. One of my sisters that lives nearby helps some (I know it is hard for her, since she has two little daughters and a tight budget) and my other sister flew some 11 years ago to the US, partially to scape from my mom problems. She sends nice cards and phones my mom from time to time, but nothing else. I've asked her to help with expenses and she has refused (always some good excuse, though she is rather affluent).

Just I thought in the US there were more resources (medicare and medicaid for example) to help people with this burden. We don't have that kind of help over here. Hope you can find some of this help (and your brother who lives far away could at least help with expenses, to hire some kind of aid, have you talked to him?)

Doug in Florida
by: Anonymous

Wow, I do understand. Same boat here. Please contact elder services in your area.

They may be able to provide some sort of break for you. Some towns have volunteers to come in. Might not be much but would be something.

You are in my prayers. Doug

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