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Asking Other Family Members For Assistance
My father and I are the primary caregivers for my mother, 81, who has dementia (she is also blind and has cardiac issues). I am a full-time executive, who fortunately, can work remotely...so this allows me to be there for my mom and dad as much as possible. I have a sister who lives about an hour away, as well as my sister's kids, who are nearby. I feel guilty asking them for help...but my spouse and I need a break every now and then. My sister oftentimes says that she feels guilty for not doing more - but that she can't due to her work and living an hour away. I just kind of feel like I'm stranded - and it's overwhelming sometimes. Has anyone had this issue? How did you deal with it? Thank you in advance for any insight you can give.
Hi DocZ - welcome to 'here', but sorry for the reason...
oh, yes - you are not alone in feeling you are doing it all yourself. We have two dear friends who help more than family, and they are only helping more or less so we can work. MIL's sister does help with about 3 hours every other Saturday, and for that we are thankful. that is 'our' time, and some folks aren't getting even that much.
You'd be surprised how many folks here have family who just take off and look the other way.
Meanwhile - so you don't get overwhelmed, could you maybe get some help to come in for a few hours a week?
Hello DocZ and a very warm welcome to you. I am sorry for what is happening. Sometimes we can gain success with family stepping in to help, but like anything else, there are those who cannot or are not willing to. Sometimes, if a person stepping in would be a disaster or undependable, it may be best not to have them, "help." If one does not wish to put themselves in the house for hands-on care, perhaps they would be willing to do other things such as shopping, or preparing and bringing meals once a week or so, etc.
Sending out a kindly email stating what the needs are, and asking if anyone has time that they can lend a hand, it would be appreciated to hear back from them. I am not a fan of barreling into someone's face and insisting they'd better do this and that, and making an enemy out of a family member; that only backfires and creates more resistance and also creates family schisms that may not heal. Not good for anyone.
You mention your mother would resist any help coming into the house - that may also happen with bringing in relatives. You also mention that your mother has Long Term Care Insurance, but that your father is not using it as she does not want anyone in the house.
Okay. . . . she does not get to call the shots on this; she has lost the ability to reason, to use logic or to have adequate judgment; it will be difficult no matter what, but sometimes things have to be done which may make a difference.. FIRST: Do have her checked for a "silent" urinary tract infection - the doctor must also order a culture, not just a dipstick sort of testing. These UTIs are called "silent," because they often have no physical symptoms of pain/burning, BUT our Loved One (LO) often will develop behavioral issues that can be dramatic until the UTI is treated.
Another thing; perhaps she could use a checkup by her doctor with labs to rule out other physical issues which may be contributing to her behaviors; medication can also be adjusted by her dementia specialist.
She has the funds in her long term care policy to pay for her care; no one needs to be burned out. If your mother needs any medical assitance or if she needs medication adjustment, that may help. I would choose an aide who is a good personality fit and someone who speaks English very clearly so that your mother can communicate without having a language barrier.
She may act out and fuss, but that is simply noise. One can bring the aide in as a "friend" that Medicare is paying for. Let the new person come in softly first, perhaps doing only light things for awhile until your mother adjusts to her presence and getting to know the person, then little by little, more, is able to be done. The other altrnative would be a NH, and it does sound as though that is not an option; at least not at this point
I so hope all goes well; you are a kind and loving advocate for our parents; they are blessed to have you by their side.
Let us know how it goes , we will be thinking of you.
I can certainly empathize with your situation. When my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2014, I was divorced, she was not married, and I was an "only child". I was able to get a trust, POA/will, and medical power of attorney in place before her diagnosis was made, which enabled me to take care of her affairs/pay bills, etc. She passed four years ago and I'm still grieving in a way.
My Dad (in another state) then started falling and having frequent hospitalizations / he's in the hospital right now and just signed over all his bank accounts to one of his caregivers. I am bewildered by his behavior and have always been there for him / dropped everything and flown/driven 11 hours each way to be with him through all his episodes, but he's making it Very Difficult for me to continue putting forth so much emotion, time, and effort to drop everything and run to his side time and time again. I'm not sure what I'll do the next time I get a call about a fall or hospitalization; I'll probably go to his side again, but my career has taken a hit from having to call out at a moment's notice so many times. I just don't know if I can do it again. He's most likely in the "gray area" as far as decision-making and has been drinking and passing out every night for as long as I can remember.
You Definitely deserve a break/help before getting bitter and burned out (like me), because you don't want to be left feeling empty and used up. Realistically, your Mom could live for a few years longer (or more), and then your father will probably pass before you. Fortunately, you can work from home to keep your own life going (even though I know it's a struggle). Your spouse may also have aging parents to tend to in the future. Please take a vacation with your wife and your Dad, sister, and sister's kids will figure it out; if something were to happen to you Lord Forbid, they would simply have to have backup resources in place for taking care of your mother. I apologize for the long post, and thank you for reading if you have made it through this far.