How do you know when to step in? I’m currently in the process of reversing the caregiver roles with both my parents, and my father-in-law. Each situation presents its own set of issues and difficulties, and lately, they all seem to be taking a bit of a toll on me. Due to my need to take care of everyone else, I am finding myself probably taking on a lot more than I realistically should. But, in my mind – I feel like if I don’t do it…who will? All of the things that I’ve seen lately about the elderly being forgotten, etc…. I just hold too much value in family, to ever let that happen.
Let me start with my parents….
For the record, Alzheimer’s Disease, has got to be THE absolute most cruel illness there is. It effectively traps a person inside their own self. Their memory goes away – both short-term and long-term, their ability to carry on a conversation, their ability to recognize their own loved ones, and on & on, to the point of the disease shutting down their body in the end. I will be the first to admit, I haven’t done all my research yet on the disease, so I don’t know the ‘technical stage’ of my mom’s illness. (like with most cancers, they are referred to as Stage 1, Stage 2, etc depending on the progression and severity) What I do know though is that she is no longer the strong, independent woman who I grew up knowing. My dad continues to do his best to care for her at home, as in his eyes, a nursing home would never be an option. At this point, I do agree…too many times it seems that people put their loved ones in the nursing home only to get so busy with their lives, that they totally forget about their loved ones. How can that possibly happen?? What if they have forgotten to care for you as a child??
At 85, my dad is doing the best he can to care for mom, but it is becoming more difficult by the day. He is so determined to maintain their independence, but I am beginning to wonder when my siblings & I will need to step in. Sadly, my dad is starting to suffer his own signs of age and fatigue taking a rapid toll on him. I am the only one that lives close to them, and find myself taking the brunt of what assistance dad will accept, in the way of cleaning house and sitting with mom from time to time as her runs errands. We never sat down as a family back when mom and dad were both of sound mind and had any conversations about how various things would need to be handled, when the time came. Now, trying to talk to dad about any matters only results in him getting very defensive and adamant that he is perfectly capable of mom’s care.
Then there is my father-in-law. I understand that every person has their individual way of dealing with life’s circumstances. He, however, is in the state of grieving himself to death. He cannot move past the death of his wife, which is coming up on 2 years. He simply cannot function. And due to the mental stress he keeps himself under, he suffered a mild stroke a few weeks ago. Now, thankfully, it seems to have only affected his speech and maybe his energy levels some. But, the four boys are now beginning to see that he simply can’t live alone safely anymore. So, now I have taking on that responsibility as well.
Please don’t think that I am complaining, as I’m not. But, it is overwhelming. More than anything, I want to remind people to talk to their parents while everyone is still able to communicate effectively to have plans in place when life calls. Also, know when to simply step in and calmly take control of situations. Your parents safety and well-being should always be your concern. Don’t stick them in a home and forget about them!! I understand that the extra care may be what is needed, but still go visit as much as you can.