How do I help my mother stay less stressed while caring for my father?

3 answers | Last updated: Nov 26, 2016
Terrie asked...

How do I help my mother stay less stressed while she cares for my father, who is going through the early-mild stages of dementia? My brother and I have young families! HELP!

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

Obviously you can't drop everything to help your mom 24/7, as you must also take care of your own needs. This can be a lengthy disease process and even secondary caregivers are subject to burnout. Fortunately there are several different ways you can ease her load.

  • Look into ways you can simplify the number of things she's responsible for. Make sure she's using automated payment systems for household bills wherever possible, for example. Arrange for yard care, housecleaning, or online delivery of groceries.
  • Direct her to your local Alzheimer's Association. There she can find valuable information about what to expect in the coming months and years, as well as local resources and support groups that can help.
  • Consider an elder-care companion, someone who can spend time with your dad a few hours a week to give your mom a chance to get out of the house.
  • Check out Alzheimer's day services. Also called "respite care," it's a place where your dad can go a few times a week to give your mom a break. Many areas now have programs specially designed for people with early-stage disease that provide them a chance to vent and share with people in similar circumstances.
  • Provide a shoulder and an ear for your mom. Even when you can't be physically present, you can be a huge help to her by calling often and being there for her emotionally. Be sure to find a helpful ear for you too; there are many support groups that are exclusively for or include the children of an AD parent.


Community Answers

Puzzles answered...

goodMorning Terrie... I feel for your mother, my father took care of my mother for a number of years.

Your mother has to take care of herself first, without her health both mentally and physically, she will tire easily and get depressed.

Sooner or later you father won't like your mother telling her what to do all the time and then the arguing will start... bitterness replaces love.

It is easier to take instructions from a stranger than from your family, they don't argue as much.

The problem when a spouse is caregiver, they have a tendency to keep their feelings and outbursts to themselves... because they feel obligated.

No matter how difficult it is arrange for your mother to have some time for herself. Just a half a day twice a week, to visit a friend, get her hair done or whatever. (get out of the house) karen

Sd babs answered...

It isn't so easy to get a caregiver or have someone stay with a grumpy old person. My husband has AD. I have 3 grown kids who live nearby and have families. I understand how that is-I remember! It would help if they would call and say how are things, invite you over, bring over dinner or a snack, stop by for a short visit, have Dad over to watch football (he just sits there), call dad and talk to him. One son told me his dad said the same thing 3 times in 5 minutes-duh! Dad might remember them better if he had more frequent talks. I am really hurt that our family seems to have abandoned us. If you call mom and she doesn't answere, leave a message, don't just hang up. Don't call her only when you have problems. Being there for her, letting her vent (if she wants), take them out to eat, let mom know she can ask or tell you anything. It is a big help to just have someone there who cares and lets you know.