How do I provide Alzheimer's care from a distance?

3 answers | Last updated: Nov 03, 2016
Mad 4 miles asked...

I am a 39 year-old teacher living in GA. My father is 85. He has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but up until now, his decline has been very slow. He is still functional on many levels. His memory for names, ect is almost gone, he gets lost frequently, it is hard to get him dressed in the morning, but he can still recognize me and my mother and get around pretty well. My mother is 75 years old with a history of illness. She is at about 85% now but thinks she is at 100 as does my father. Now the problem.

They live in Dayton, OH and refuse to come down here to stay with me. I HATE Ohio and have no desire to return. However, my father is literally killing my mother. She is losing weight and growing more tired and haggard-looking by the month. I have talked to her about placing him somewhere because he REFUSES to come to GA, but, my father is an extremely stubborn man and still somewhat strong, and just aware enough to know where the "hell he doesn't want to go" (sic). I believe she is a bit scared of him because he can be verbally abusive at times and I don't know how you go about placing someone somewhere that he doesn't want to go.

Furthermore, neither she or I can just "pay someone to come and get him" (as has been suggested by some I know) because we are not financially flush. He is a veteran of WWII and we always assumed that he would go to the VA at this stage in his life. However, thanks to the military budget cuts, the VA in their town no longer takes Alzheimer's patients. Honestly, on another note, I don't want him to be somewhere he just really doesn't want to go. This is a new world to me because they have always been very independent. However, when I go spend time with them, I see things falling apart. My mother says its her responsibility to care for him and she doesn't intend to burden me with it. However, as I stated before, I honestly believe it is killing her and I just don't know what to do!

Even if I manage to find something to do with dad, there is still mom who would be living by herself, in a town where things are kind of rough right now. The rust belt is dying and so many millions of jobs have been lost. In her town, the answer to job loss seems to be knocking elderly folk in the head and taking their things. However, her friends are there, and she has a skin disease that makes her sensitive to the sun and to heat, thus, GA is not her favorite place to be.

I do not know how to make the people who have always told me what to do, do what I say. lol Furthermore, I don't have any concrete plan to help them. I live in a two bedroom townhouse. He can't navigate stairs, she doesn't like to. I would try to sell my place and move somewhere else to make it more comfortable/convenient for them but they just do not want to work with me. I feel guilty as hell for not just moving home to see after them, but I have a life here that I really don't want to leave.

I need and will greatly appreciate any advice that anyone can give! Sorry for the long rant. mari

Community Answers

Charlotte alig answered...

I live in Germany and things are a lot different here, so I have no answer at all for you... But, my heart goes out to you..You poor thing...Several questions arise..

Does your father have the medical diagnosis of AD? If so, can his Dr. inform you of at least partial help during the day possibilities? Here they have a, sort fo nurse,....nurses's aid sort of thing that will send a nurse or caregiver to the house for help with giving medicines, or bathing etc..Soem is covered by ins, other things require payment, but it is not high is in some area a part of the healht care insurance plan.

Another thing, is there a way to get a power of attorney to you for your parents...both of them/ Then at some point if necessary, your dad can be declared by your doctor as being incompetent to care for himself as far as medical decision go and you can send him to a caring home or hospital as needed.

Then , in one of thsee forums, I read of something like care from hospice, where they visit and help caregivers of AD patients. I sure hope you can get some hep soon...You need to be more informed though...start with asking the Dr. Get your mom and dad to sign a paper that allows you to see their medical records...that is a start.. hugs to you...Charlotte, an American living in Germany.

Chinookbell answered...

I feel for you, Mari. I am sort of in the same situation here in CA. My step dad has stroke induced dimentia and he is 78. My mom recently had some serious medical issues. I had to go to their home to assist them (I was lucky my employer has a field office in their area so I was able to work remotely) for 8 months. During that time, I really got an eye opening as to how well their situation was not working. It got really bad when dad purposely dropped mom while helping her out of a chair. Unfortunately, physical abuse is a part of the dementia that sometimes starts during the progression of the disease. I contacted my Employee Assistance Program at work and they sent me 2 very helpful books on caring for elderly parents and caregiving. One of the books provides listings for all kinds of support groups, financial aid, caregivers, etc. I would suggest that you see if you can locate "How to Care for Aging Parents". I searched on line and found several local area groups that have helped me to locate assistance such as someone to come and drive dad to the doctor, assist him in personal hygene, etc. But, beware, these services can be VERY expensive. My dad is in a rural area of northern CA, for him to take a meditrans to the doctor (pick up at his home, etc) is $225 roundtrip (it's all of 40 miles round trip) so I contacted Interim Healthcare. They can provide a car and driver experienced with dimentia to transport him for about $20/hour. Big difference. So, I would suggest that you do some Internet surfing. Use "Adult Caregiving in..." whatever area your folks are in. Then start reading up on what they offer and how they can help. You don't have to give up your life - at least not yet - but I think that you need to start planning on how to manage theirs at a distance and provide support that won't break the bank. Also, check with their local Adult Protective Services (APS) - they often can give you some referrals to local support offices such as In Home Social Services (IHSS). If you feel that you need some one to check on your folks, you can call APS and ask that they do a wellness check on them. They will send the Sheriff out to see that they are ok. They may even have a program where they check on them on a regular basis. I have been having to rely on them to help with dad simply because my folks separated in March and my mom now lives with me in central CA. So, dad is home alone...not a great situation but it is managable. I go up and visit him about 1 time a month. And, as time goes on, I learn more and more how to deal with it. Do you have siblings who would be willing to help with this load? If not, you might want to see if there is a local support group for families of Alzhiemer's and Dimentia in your town. You'd be surprised how helpful they can be for ideas on help or just to lend you a shoulder to cry on or to just listen. So, just hang in there.

Tulips answered...

My sister is 55 years old and in the mid stages of alzheimners....I live in North Carolina and she lives in Penn. I have worked out a plan withe her husband that every two months we meet half way and I take my sister to my home for about 2 weeks. She really looks forward to it and it helps her husband. Usually after two or three days she thinks it is time to go home but I just show her the calendar and show her what day she returns home. It has been a real joy to be with her and to build these memories for me. It has only been recently that I have finally realized that her disease is not going away....I was not allowing myself to come to terms with it. Now I have and it has made my days with her more precious. God....I love her and she is such a beautiful person...thanks for letting me share!