Ask Brenda

brenda“Ask Brenda” is written by Brenda Enright, owner of Home Instead Senior Care Etobicoke.  Home Instead is the leading home care provider for seniors, with over 1000 offices internationally.  Their services allow seniors to remain in their homes, maintain their independence, and preserve their quality of life.

Each month, Brenda will draw from her experiences to provide answers to questions regarding care and available resources in the community.  If you have a question for Brenda, please forward it to: askbrenda@homeinstead.com.

Dear Brenda:   Over the last five years I have been assisting my parents who now reside in different retirement homes. My father has frontal lobe dementia and heart issues; my mother no longer wants the responsibility of his care and has left the burden for me to deal with. Although he is still fairly high functioning, his health is declining. My father’s current location is unable to provide the full support that he now requires, so our next step is to move him into a Long Term Care Facility. How do I even begin this process when all he wants is to live with his wife? He is in and out of the hospital regularly and this is taking a massive toll on me and my immediate family. This has taken a massive toll on my relationship with my sister, as she doesn’t feel it is our responsibility to care for our parents. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:  You are balancing a lot at the moment and I’m glad you are reaching out for help.  It is quite common for adult children of aging parents to have very different ideas about what kind of care their parents’ need— as well different views on their responsibilities in providing and overseeing that care. This is often a source of much frustration for family caregivers.

It sounds like you need help finding a way to honor your sense of duty to your parents, arrange care that is appropriate to your parents’ needs and wishes, while also preserving your relationship with your sister. You two will need each other when your parents are gone. If cost is not a barrier, I encourage you to hire a geriatric care manager to assess your parents’ situation and help you make plans. A geriatric care manager can help you figure out what you can realistically handle on your own, where you need help, and what resources exist in your area. Geriatric care managers have an excellent understanding of family dynamics and can also talk with you and your sister together. Your sister may not be willing to help your parents, but she may be prepared to help you. Are there tasks she could do that would free you to handle the caregiving end of things?  The point is to come up with a plan that allows you to support your parents as much as possible while still enjoying life with your family.

A care manager can also help you figure out the best approach to talking with your father and will likely be able to help guide that conversation.  Because of your dad’s cognitive issues he may continue to tell you he wants to live with his wife, even after you talk with him. If you are unable to afford support from a geriatric care manager please consider a support group, like the Alzheimer’s Society. The people in that group will have likely dealt with similar issues and be able to figure out the best approach to talk with you dad and to offer him comfort.

Good luck to you on your journey.

Home Care Hamilton helping older adults and elderly live independently and safely at home.

Please call 905-521-5500.

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