Caring For Dementia - Why A Family Member May Not Be the Best Caregiver For Mom
Caring for an elderly person with Dementia is a full-time job. And it requires help. This is something family members do not always have. There is a saying that it takes a village to care for someone with dementia. Nothing could be closer to the truth.
Often a daughter or son may move in with a parent with dementia to become their full-time caretaker. Their decision to do this is honorable. However, it may not be the best plan.
My mother-in-law made my husband promise that he would never put her “in a home.” The thought of moving her into memory care made him feel as if he were letting her down. He felt as if to do so would be dis honoring her. ~Kathryn
This happens all too often. When Kathryn’s mother in law asked Doug to make that promise she only knew one type of home, a nursing home. She did not know about Assisted Living Homes. Furthermore, she had never experienced the effects of dementia. She really didn’t know what she was asking her son to do.
Watching an aging parent with dementia decline is not easy for families. It is easy to want to cling to the past. Families look for every new solution that pops up.
“Cecilia makes mom do puzzles every afternoon for her brain health!” wailed Karen “I think she believes if mom does enough puzzles and eats enough blueberries there will not be a problem. But sometimes this frustrates Mom more. She doesn’t want to do the puzzles!”
There Is No Straight Line
To make matters worse the progression of this disease does not follow a straight line. It weaves and winds. Some days Dad will be so clear in his thinking it may make his adult son question whether there is really a problem. He may begin to wonder if he imagined it all.
Then down the slippery slopes Dad slides again.
All of this change in behavior and in cognitive ability is confusing for the adult child. Just when they may be ready to place their parent in memory care Dad suddenly seems fine. And the constant indecision weighs heavily on the heart of the child.
Emotions Are A Part of The Picture
Let’s face it.
You have a history with the person you are now caring for. You knew the person they once were. The powerful CEO who ruled the house now has to listen to you tell him it’s time for a bath. It isn’t easy for you. And it isn’t easy for him.
If there are siblings it can often complicate matters even more.
Arguments over what the best options and treatments are for your elderly parent can become explosive. The sibling rivalry issues have always been there. Time and distance (no longer living in the same home) kept the emotions at bay. Now they have been released. And the truth is it isn’t always pretty.
Chances are everybody wants the same outcome. They want Mom or Dad to be happy. And they want them to be comfortable. The problem is no one can agree on how to accomplish that.
The family caregiver that has moved in to care for an elderly parent quickly realizes everything they have given up. The sibling who lives away may think they are exaggerating. And it doesn’t help when Mom suddenly gets so much better when the distant child comes for a visit.
Is Mom Manipulating Me?
“Mom was so clear thinking when Jen was visiting. She really kept it together. Now I am beginning to wonder if she is just manipulating me. Maybe there isn’t anything wrong with her after all.” ~ Sarah
It is not uncommon for families to think that someone with dementia is manipulating them. Especially when they act perfectly normal around others. The truth is, especially in the early stages mom may be able to “hold it all together” for a short period of time and fool someone who is in for a visit.
Out of town siblings need to spend at least a full week to be able to assess a situation. Furthermore, they need to allow their parent to do everything on their own. If the sibling jumps in to help they will not understand the full scope of what you may be experiencing.
Is It Time to Move?
This is not an easy question to answer. Each situation is different. However, if you find yourself becoming depressed, anxious or short tempered there needs to be a change.
Your parent deserves to have a well-rested, happy and energetic caregiver. If you can no longer be that it may be time for a move. Allowing someone else to do the day to day care giving duties will mean that you can spend quality time together. Isn’t that what you really wanted?
Pat Mack has been helping families make the right decisions to care for someone they love since 1997.
Email her today for more information.
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