We hear questions about caring for elderly parents quite often. These are questions like:
“It’s obvious Dad can no longer care for Mom by himself.” (Or maybe it’s Mom caring for Dad.)
“How can we get him to accept the fact that he needs help?”
Being a Caregiver Can Be a Full Time Job
Often the role of caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s becomes a full time occupation for his/her spouse.
While not an easy job, things may start off okay. But as the disease progresses, providing constant care gets harder and harder. And the emotional toll on the person providing the care gets greater and greater.
There often comes a point when it becomes clear to you, and other family members, that Dad is struggling with his caregiver role. But he’s in denial about needing help. This poses a challenging situation for everyone involved.
The thing is, caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming for anyone. However it’s especially difficult for someone whose own abilities may be in decline as well.
Understandable Anger and Resentment
Yet telling your Dad he needs help isn’t easy. It can cause resentment. Or anger.
Put yourself in his shoes and the reason why becomes pretty clear.
Chances are your parents lived their adult lives independently, making their own decisions. Now, because of circumstances beyond their control, their independence is slipping away.
That’s hard to accept. So despite your good intentions, your Dad hears suggestions to get help as criticism. As confirmation that he’s no longer able to meet his “responsibilities.”
The Best Advice We Can Offer
The best advice is to try to see the world through his eyes. Offer suggestions instead of “orders.” Avoid language he might perceive as criticism.
If he has friends in similar circumstances, ask how they’re doing. Emphasize the positive – that getting help probably made their lives better. Plant ideas that allow your dad to reach the right conclusions on his own.
But take it slow. Suggest that checking into help now might make it easier down the road in case the time would come he couldn’t care for Mom.