What do I do when both my husband and parents need me?

4 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Yorkie momma asked...

My husband of 36 years has pick's dementia, we started dating at 16 and he is what most women would dream to have in a husband & father, a good, gentle & kind man & my Mom is in the final stages of alzheimer's and lives at home with my 84 year old Dad. We have alwasy been close with both of my parents and my husband is very fond of my Dad. My Mom is very demanding and hateful with my Dad now(she would have never been this way before) and he leans on me alot, I am the closest sibling out of 6 so I do get the lions share of the care, i usually dont mind but lately my husband whose dementia is starting to come closer to the surface doesn't want to be around my Mom because he knows this is basically his future so he is trying to avoid being around her. He keeps telling me " I am sorry now before I get to be like her" it would help if he was being a jerk about it but he is truly sad when he says this. I tried to talk to my Dad(who is in denial about depression) and he said "Don't worry about us, i will take care of things" Just add another layer of guilt. I feel like the scarecrow on the post in Oz. I just dont which way is right. I want to be with my husband before this disease really takes hold but I feel a great obligation to my parents.

Thanks for letting me vent Sharon

Expert Answers

Shelly Beach, MRE, is a seminary graduate; instructor at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan; author of seven books; and contributor to The NIV Stewardship Study Bible. She speaks nationally on faith, writing, and caregiving and is a host on the website Help for My Life in roundtable discussions on care issues. Beach's most recent release is Ambushed by Grace: Help and Hope on the Caregiving Journey.

Dear Sharon,

You are in a challenging role and obviously care deeply for your mother and husband. Blessings on you for your loving commitment.

First, be released of the guilt for doing what is "right." Each day that you lovingly care for your mom and your husband in the face of difficult choices, you are doing what is right.

I would suggest that you first consult with your local Area Agency on Aging to see what support services are available to assist you in your care of both your mother and your husband. Assistance through Meals on Wheels, in-home aides, transportation, and other vital services could provide you with flexibility. You cannot not do this alone.

Secondly, I would suggest that you look into adult day services. I recently wrote a blog on "How Adult Day Service Can Help Loved Ones with Dementia." To find it on my website, check out my bio on the Caring.com site. Adult day services can provide much-needed routine and cognitive stimulation for your mother, while providing respite for your father and for you. In some communities, the services are provided through tax dollars, and transportation is also provided for your loved one.

Lastly, I would suggest that you talk to your family members about the need to create a family care plan for your mother. Family members can participate in different ways: some financially or by providing scheduled respite care. You may want to consider pitching in for an in-home care provider to help assist your father, as well.

Any caregiving plan needs to be flexible. Your loved one's needs change. Your needs change. There is no "right" way to do the job when we are motivated by love.

Community Answers

Sho b answered...

Thank you Shelly for the words of wisdom!

If you're looking for additional caregiving help in your area, you can call on of our Family Advisers to help walk you through the process: (866) 824-8174

You can also search for assisted living, in-home care, and other types of care nearby by perusing our Senior Care Directory: www.caring.com/local. Caring.com now has the largest amount of reviews from others who have had personal experience with many of the care providers around the US.

We hope these resources are helpful. You're not alone!

Sheilamonty answered...

Shelly I agree 100% also I have found helpful other sites such as http://www.care.com/ and https://www.sittercity.com are helpful in finding private caregivers where you can have a background check done and view reviews from other people who have used them. I am on Sittercity.com and was on Care.com until they abruptly closed my beautiful profile page for no reason at all. Hopefully I will be able to reopen in the future sometime.

Ca-claire answered...

Hi Sharon - you are such a wonderful wife and daughter. My husband had a stroke in 2006 in his frontal lobe, and his logic was scrambled, plus he had 2 personalities for the 3 years he lived after the stroke. I would have described him in a similar fashion that you described your husband, except that my husband and I found ourselves late in life - we had only been married 15 months prior to his stroke.

You are in a situation that changes, I would bet, at least hourly. It would be good for you, and especially good for your Father, to get your Mother into some sort of Senior Day Care. The time there will help your Mother, allow others to give you a perspective on your Mother that you may be unable to see, and it will help your Mother be in a friendly environment with people she has no history with.

Be gentle with yourself. Do what you can, and let God take care of the rest. Ask your siblings for help - even if they are far away, there are things they can do - sending cards to Mom and Dad, phone calls of support to Mom and Dad, being a shoulder to cry on for you. You have a tough journey ahead of you, conserve your energy, and take care of yourself as well! Hugs to you.