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Sunday, February 24, 2013


Dad has become for needy of my physical presence lately.  It's not a new thing, but it has increased the past month.

He has previously been "lonely" if I do not sit with him in front of the TV, and sometimes he has suddenly walked around the house searching for me if he doesn't know where I am.  Its annoying.  Like the way a Mother can hardly go to the bathroom without toddlers banging on the door...

At least, with toddlers, you can expect them to grow out of it.  With an elder, you know it is only going to get worse.  It used to be that, if I got involved with yardwork or cleaning the basement, it would be a couple hours before Dad got worried about where I was.  I could always tell when I started hearing banging on the floor above going back and forth along the hall rapidly (for him).  So I would stop whatever I was doing and go upstairs to let him know I was around, remind him that I had told him I was working in the basement, and see if I could find him something interesting to watch on TV.

Then, I could return to what I was doing for a while with Dad at least remembering where I was in the house for another hour or two.

That time has shrunk to about 30 minutes.  I can't get away from him for very long.  Its not like I'm "hiding in the basement".  The gardening season is starting, and I am way behind in getting the place organized for the new season.  In previous years, I have kept the basement relatively organized; this past year, I have just not had the time.  It needed hours of cleanup and organization.  I have taken all the shortcuts I could since Dad arrived, and it caught up to me!

I've tried to do things an hour at a time, then spend enough time around Dad so that he knew I was there and go back to what I was doing in the basement.  I'm worn out...

The other problem that is getting worse is Dad expecting me to go do bed every night when he does.  He used to sometimes go to bed after me (and could turn off the lights and TV) .

And, BTW, I just did my 15 minutes of talking to Dad and "watching" his Fox News show, to comfort him with my presence.  I don't say that mockingly.  He needs a reminder of my presence to feel like he has not been abandoned.  Sometimes when I go out grocery-shopping, he is desperate for attention by the time I get back (about 1.5 hours from driving and shopping time).

I spent the last 30 years living by myself (with the various combinations of cats).  I LIKE living alone (with cats).  I used to just get up at 5 am, feed the cats, shower, dress, drive to meet my carpool, spend 9.5 hours at work, carpool back, drive home (after doing some brief grocery-shopping) by 6 pm.  I had 3, maybe 4 hours before I had to go to bed, and I spent a lot of the weekends sleeping.  I had to pack everything I wanted to do otherwise into those few weeknight and precious weekend hours.  Many of you do too.

I'm not used to accounting for my free time, in spite of so much more than I have now that I am retired.  But I was so happy with retired life and here is Dad dropped in...  I hate it.  I'm a responsible child, I always was (elder child syndrome).  I'm doing this because I "have" to.  I'm doing this because I should, I'm doing this because its "right", I'm doing this because because I was the right person to do it when the time came.  That doesn't mean I like it...

Well, yeah, few people like caring for an elder parent.  Its awkward, it changes the routine of life, it's difficult.  But am I right that MOST people who care for an elder parent are doing it with help from family?  A spouse, local children who visit, some old friends of the elder, your own friends who visit you and relate to the elder parent sometimes?

I don't.

I wish he really needed an "assisted-living facility".  He doesn't yet (by my unprofessional guess).  But I need him to need it. 

I live a rational, knowledgeable life.  I don't understand really what it means not to know how to do simple things like open curtains, flush a toilet, separate metal from compostable stuff in different containers,  read a simple 1099 tax document or a monthly bank statement, etc.  Answering the same questions about those things every single day is driving me nuts.  Sometimes, it is the same question 3 times in 15 minutes...

Nothing in my entire life has prepared me for this.


Mariodacatsmom said...

You have every right to all of those feelings. Nothing is harder than being a caregiver to a parent with alzheimers. This might be a good time to see if there is a day care setting for alzheimers patients - somewhere where he could go where they play games, etc., - just a day or two a week or however much time you feel you need. It will make a world of difference to you. Maybe check with the doctor he goes to - they probably know of such a place. He might enjoy it too. My mother went about 3 days a week and it gave my dad a break (I lived 3 hours away and worked full time, so wasn't much help other than weekends.) Give it some thought.

Katnip Lounge said...

I think the fact that you're "verbalizing" your discontentedness is a sign that it's time for a break in your routine. No person can be expected to keep up your pace indefinitely--it's not defeatist to seek respite. I think some form of eldercare for your Dad--daily or hourly at your home--is an excellent idea. Don't let your later memories of your Dad be tainted by resentment.

The Cat From Hell said...

Oh I feel for you
Hang in there you are doing great!

Katie Isabella said...

I really like what Triah said in her Katnip Lounge comment. I would have said a similar thing.

Andrea and the Celestial Kitties said...

I totally agree that you need a break, elder care, someone to care for your dad for a few hours a day so you can go out and do things, something.
But please, do not think you are alone in being alone in giving care. A lot of people who care for an elder parent do so just like you, alone, unappreciated, little to no respite, and it wears them out, breaks them down.. So if you don't have someone to help, you are going to have to get someone before too long.
And really, if he has someone else to 'visit' with, it'll take a lot of pressure off of you. He'll have something to look forward to, even if he doesnt like it, it's still something that's happening out of the ordinary, he'll have something to talk about. And you'll get a break.
Can your sister come in even once a week? I don't recall if she lives close or not..
If he's agitated when you go shopping, he may need a caregiver for those times, his insurance might even have a provision for that. Trust me, it's worth looking into.

Derby, Ducky said...

You might want to consider getting an independent evaluation of what kind of care he needs. Asses if your home is the best environment for him or someplace else.

Also, if you haven't already started this, look into places where can be be moved if it does get to that. So you are not scrambling at the last minute to find a suitable and reputable place for him.

Tina T-P said...

Please please listen to your friends here and look into respite care for your dad (and you)! My friend finally did it for her husband and it has made ALL the difference in her life - & consider Derby/Ducky's suggestion of an independent evaluation! T.

Alasandra, The Cats and Dogs said...

It actually does sound as if he may need an "assisted-living facility" or at least some sort of respite care so you can have a break. It seems the list of things he cannot do is getting longer and longer.

Hope you find some sort of solution.