How can we explain to my mother that she needs help caring for my father?

4 answers | Last updated: May 05, 2011
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father is 88 and has Alzheimer's, and my mother is 82. She has been taking care of my father, but can barely take care of herself. At the present we are trying to sell their home on the pretense that we will buy them a home closer to us, but we are hoping they could stay living with my sister where they are currently. My mother wants her own home, but is a little forgetful herself. We are having a hard time explaining to her that she cannot take care of dad on her own. Please help me with this problem.

Expert Answers

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

It so very difficut to take away independence from the parent who feels that it is their responsibility to care for her husband.  "Til death do us part" is taken seriously by your mothers generation.  I wonder if it would be possible to have an "in-law" apartment or section of the house for their own personal space.  That would give your mother a sense of having their  own place but both parents would be closer to you or your sister.  Mother's who are fail themselves but still wanting to care for their spouse is a sensitve situation.  Make sure you all involve her in the discussions so she does not feel left out.  Sometimes when parents hear that you want and need them to be closer to the family they feel as if they are not "imposing" on their children. 

Community Answers

Puzzles answered...

Your parents generation and mine are the same(mine have passed away).

They not only took care of each other "til death do us part" but there was a definite opposition of being put into a nursing home (careCenter).

My father took care of my mother for many years following a stroke and dementia. He not only took care of mom most of the time, was a father and had a job.(close by)

He never complained but I know it was difficult. Mother was depressed because she couldn't do what she used to do and unfortunately dad got the brunt of it... because he was there... helping her telling her to be careful and on and on.

It gets personal when the family is taking care of loved one. (Even though they say it won't or it doesn't... it does).

Patient is yelling, crying and frustrated... crying and frustration on caregivers side. Pretty soon everyone is depressed, burned out and not knowing what to do or where to turn.

In my father case, he did it until he couldn't be there 24/7 and she needed constant care.

Help them make the decisions before it gets to the breaking point, it is best for everyone's "quality of life".

Joyg answered...

This is a very hard issue and one I just met for myself. My husband of 54 years needed to be in skilled nursing this past year and it was very diffucult for me to give up my care. However I am very aware of the statistics of the stress and illness brought on to the caregiver. We have had people here where I live die before their partner just because they tried to give too much. Others I see and are trying to coach are fading fast because they are refusing to let someone help. There is no need for 2 people to die of any illness. One is enough. Look up the statistics! They are startling. My husband just passed away in Feb. At least I am still healthy and whole and able to be here for my grandchildren.

1care answered...

Hi~ I know you are undergoing a stressful situation. My daughter helped me understand my situation with my husband who is 83 and has Alzheimers. This is what she said to me "Mom, if you had to hire someone to help you with taking care of dad, would you hire a 74 year old woman who has had back and hip surgery and also a lifetime injured hand? "

This was quite blunt, but it did get me to start thinking....(she is talking about me)...this is what I am doing, taking care of my husband and my health is failing. He would probably get better care in a care home than I can give him. I am trying to reason on this and not let my emotions get in the way...but it is hard because I love my husband very much and we have had a great 50 years together.