Help! I'm an Only Child and Caregiver!!!

abyteoflifeJune 12, 2009

I'm the only natural child of my 85 and 87 year old parents. I promised them that I would care for them at home as long as I were able. My health has rapidly declined, and I look much older than my 50 years. I had to quit my job two years ago to care for their physical needs, and they had made no preparations for this time of their lives. My doctors are concerned about my health after developing seizures, near stroke blood pressure levels, and suicidal ideologies. Neither parent wants to transition to assisted living, and one refuses to go. How must I go about making them more comfortable about this change which is really necessary?

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Hi there again. Thanks for listening to me on my post. It sounds like you are in a tough situation. This is not the answer to everything but are you on an antidepressant. It really helps. I suffer from panic attacks.

I dont really have any great advice only your health is the most important thing but we all know that is easier said then done. Or else I would not spend all my time worrying.

But if you ever want to vent feel free I will be glad to listen.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 2:59AM
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I'm an only child too, and my mom is 94 years old. Do you have Power of Attorney for both financial and health care? If not, I think that's the first thing you need to tackle. Also, your parents should have a will. These documents need to be drawn up by a competent elder care attorney.

You bring up moving them to an assisted living facility. If they actually make the move, how will they finance it? If it's going to be a private pay sort of situation, have you considered hiring in-home aids to help them and also relieve you of some of the responsibilities? There are various agencies that provide in-home care using qualified and screened individuals. Even if your folks eventually have to move into an AL, this option will give you some breathing room. Time to gradually get them adjusted to others caring for them. Time for you to research the best AL facility in your area. Time to take some much needed breaks and see to your own health.

Also, check out your community adult day care programs and/or lunch program. Even if they gripe, get them dressed and take them to the day care and lunches a couple of times a week. That way they'll be out of your hair, so to speak, for a couple of hours and they'll get used to a group environment. Sort of what pre-school does for young children.

Do you have any help or assistance at all right now? You may need to have an honest and blunt conversation with your parents about your physical & health difficulties. Tell them that's why you absolutely MUST have help. And be sure to never promise that any measure is temporary or that you'll keep caring for them in their home or anything else. No one knows for certain what the future holds, so promises are pretty useless and can be very troublesome.

Legally, unless you've been given guardianship, you cannot force a parent into an AL or a NH. However, by bringing in help and taking them to adult day care and lunches, you'll be weaning them from that over dependence on you for everything. They'll learn little by little to accept help from others. That may help them feel better about the situation.

Also, you could try something sort of drastic. Take a short vacation or tell them that your doctor has prescribed a weekend health retreat for you. So you'll be gone for three days and someone will come over to stay with them, or better yet, enroll them in a respite program at a local AL. Most assisted living facilities have a couple of bedrooms set aside for respite care when the caregiver must be out of town, etc. They would get acquainted with life at an AL. Maybe, once they participate in some of these types of activities, they'd be less hesitant.

Of course, they could prove very stubborn. If that's the case, then use their private resources to get yourself some relief. Or apply to your county & state for government aid to get some in-home caregivers. Some charities have helpful program too.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 8:15PM
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Abyte, shambo has some great advice. handling two with dementia is alot. I like the suggestion about using respit care and taking a few days for yourself, even if it's a staycation. It would give you a much needed break to catch your breath. One of the things that I feel has served me well with my grandparents is to 1) let them know everything I am doing as far as major decisions concerning them ( financial, etc), but I also sweetly and frankly communicate with them when it is getting to be too much for me. it's just my gramma now, but I still do it with her, even with the dementia. It shows them that even though I am taking care of things for them, I still show them respect( I've noticed they are more receptive to change). 2) I set boundaries with them. I hope you can get some help. Your area should have some sort of senior citizen resources, sometimes it just takes a little hunting ( I had to,but it was so worth it!)
Take care of yourself...I know easier said than done.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 10:14PM
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I had to put my husband in a care home because of my health. It was a hard thing to do, but someone told me that my life as important as his. Two doctors told me I will die before him if I don't take care of myself, then who would see to his care.

In your case it might help because they can get a room together. I had an uncle who put his wife in a care home and spent most of his time taking care of her there. Later he put himself in and he died before she did. I am sorry you are faced with this kind of stress, but happens to most if our parents live a long life.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 10:38PM
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As an only child, I do understand. My mother stayed at home with Daddy as long as possible. Was it good? No. Taking care of my mother broke my dad's health. Mother did end up in nursing home care and they took excellent care of her. Daddy visited every day and I took him when he was unable to drive.

Yes, I still had to quit my job. Nights in ER and hospital stays took over my life. I don't regret one minute of it. Daddy is in nursing home care now and has dementia. I feel like I always should be doing more but we just have to do the best we can.

I'll be thinking of you. Only children have a huge load to carry. Thank goodness I have a wonderful hubby who helps me!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 10:06AM
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