Ageing and ill parents - coping and support


#1

I’m 46, my dad is 62. He has always been the most dynamic man, the life of every party, and I’ve never EVER met anyone who didn’t just love him. Even my husband’s co-workers will ask me to say hello to him and ask how he’s doing.

Well - life has changed dramatically for us this year. My step-mother has stage 3c ovarian cancer, and is undergoing chemo treatments to save her life. My father has horrific anxiety disorder that is usually under control, but has reared its ugly head in such a bad way. They are not able to support each other though their trials right now, and some other family garbage makes it even more difficult.

It’s so hard to see my dear daddy a shell of himself. The laughter is gone, his awesome smile and love for life is gone. He is suddenly so needy, so scared, and so alone. I am his only child, and his step-daughter is just not available right now (don’t want to go there for the fear of not being charitable :cool: ).

What are others doing to cope with ageing parents? I pray nearly constantly, so that is not lacking in my life.

God bless,
~Liza


#2

So sorry for your sorrows and trials. I can relate to your situation with your dad because we lost my dad to Alzheimer’s in 2006. Watching that decline was so hearbreaking. Fortunately my mom was then and still is in good health so we weren’t dealing with the kinds of issues you are now.

Every family has issues - But when it comes to caring for parnets hopefully these can be put aside and everyone pull together. If not - well then “the cream rises to the surface”.

Do you live nearby? Can you physically be of help?
It’s a great thing to be able to actually get in and help in a very tangible way.

Don’t have a lot else to offer right now. Keep Praying for God’s will and the strength and grace to accept it.

Peace
James


#3

[quote="lizaanne, post:1, topic:242420"]
I'm 46, my dad is 62. He has always been the most dynamic man, the life of every party, and I've never EVER met anyone who didn't just love him. Even my husband's co-workers will ask me to say hello to him and ask how he's doing.

Well - life has changed dramatically for us this year. My step-mother has stage 3c ovarian cancer, and is undergoing chemo treatments to save her life. My father has horrific anxiety disorder that is usually under control, but has reared its ugly head in such a bad way. They are not able to support each other though their trials right now, and some other family garbage makes it even more difficult.

It's so hard to see my dear daddy a shell of himself. The laughter is gone, his awesome smile and love for life is gone. He is suddenly so needy, so scared, and so alone. I am his only child, and his step-daughter is just not available right now (don't want to go there for the fear of not being charitable :cool: ).

What are others doing to cope with ageing parents? I pray nearly constantly, so that is not lacking in my life.

God bless,
~Liza

[/quote]

First, I am so sorry you are facing this. It's really, really hard to watch once-vital parents age and become increasingly dependent. It's even more difficult if there isn't a solid family support system in place, for whatever reason.

If it's any consolation at all, you're not alone. My husband and I know three women right now who are caring for one or both of their parents, and I don't envy them in the least. I'm sure a Google search will reveal blogs a-plenty maintained by folks our age (I'm 51) who are caring for their parents. It wouldn't surprise me if there isn't a forum like CAF for children/younger relatives/caregivers to converse for advice, support, and commiseration.

As far as your father's anxiety, a doctor's visit might be in order. He's in crisis, obviously, and his physician might be able to recommend a course of treatment to help get his anxiety under control so that he's better able to deal with the (potential) loss of his wife as well as be able to be a better support to her. It doesn't have to be anything permanent, just something to get him past all of this.

As much as you're able to, you might think about how you can be a barrier between your step-mother and your dad, and the "other family garbage." I don't know how you would do this exactly as you didn't (and nor should you feel the need to) provide details, but that's just something to think about. If you're able to shield them from extraneous family drama they might be able to better focus on each other.

After my grandmother's illness and death in 1980, I sought therapy through my university's student health center for depression and grief support. I don't even remember the man's name, but the therapist told me something that's stayed with me for more than 30 years. He said that it was an honor for me to have had the chance to care for my grandmother as she died, that the other people in my family who chose not to help out had lost as incredible opportunity to honor my grandmother before she died. Thinking of it in those terms helped me a lot.


#4

My mom died when my dad was in his fifties. A few years later he married a really nice woman that was so dedicated to him. My wife and I were so grateful to her because we knew as long as she was around my dad would be taken care of. When he went down hill in his early eighties we were relieved of that responsibility because of her charity to him.

All of my adult I thought about what I would do if the time came where I had to take of them. I just came to the conclusion that I would do what I had to do when the time came. They were wonderful parents and gave me a warm and loving childhood. How could I do any less for them. I guess doing as much as we can and should is a Cross we bear as their children.

I'm wondering if you can get some help from your parish. I can't imagine people in my parish not wanting to help. God bless you and I will pray for you and you patents


#5

Hello Liza:flowers:

So sorry to hear about your Daddy and Step Mom, these are indeed challenging times for you and your family, but our Eternal Father hears all of our trials, sorrows and sufferings. :blush: My folks are still in good health, but DW lost her Mom a few years ago to Alzheimer’s after 10+ years of struggle.

Here are some of hints and tips, aka the Spiritual Armor of God that I have picked up from a certain Catholic TV enterprise.;)

  • Attending the Latin Mass as much as possible even during the week.
  • Listening to Sacred Music and Georgian Chant, YouTube & Watershed have great material and most is free to listen to.
  • Reading and meditate on Fatima and Our Lady of the Rosary
  • Read and meditate on St. Theresa the Little Flower. Her writings of, "The Little Way" and "The Story of A Soul"
  • Read and meditate on St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy
  • Listen/watch the recordings of Bishop Fulton Sheen, again YouTube.

These are just my favorites and there are many others. Like the Novena of the Sacred Heart that just happens to run this month June 19th - 27th.

circleofprayer.com/sacred-heart-novena.html

God Bless and Praying for you...... GratefulDad


#6

[quote="JRKH, post:2, topic:242420"]

Do you live nearby? Can you physically be of help?

It's a great thing to be able to actually get in and help in a very tangible way.

[/quote]

Thank you James - yes, I am about 45 minutes away, so I go to his house when I can. My husband and I have very demanding work schedules so it's not always possible, but I have the ability to work from any location so it helps if I have to be with him. I also have an amazingly understanding manager who recently lost her own father and is extremely supportive of "family ALWAYS comes first".

[quote="karow, post:3, topic:242420"]

As far as your father's anxiety, a doctor's visit might be in order. He's in crisis, obviously, and his physician might be able to recommend a course of treatment to help get his anxiety under control so that he's better able to deal with the (potential) loss of his wife as well as be able to be a better support to her. It doesn't have to be anything permanent, just something to get him past all of this.

[/quote]

Yes, he is already on medication to help with his anxiety and depression, but I do not feel it is working for him and it needs to be changed and/or adjusted. He has an appointment tomorrow so I'm praying (and begging him) that he will be totally open and honest with the doctor about how he's doing so they can truly assist him.

As much as you're able to, you might think about how you can be a barrier between your step-mother and your dad, and the "other family garbage." I don't know how you would do this exactly as you didn't (and nor should you feel the need to) provide details, but that's just something to think about. If you're able to shield them from extraneous family drama they might be able to better focus on each other.

Yeah - that's not really an option, unfortunately. :( I have no control over that other situation.

After my grandmother's illness and death in 1980, I sought therapy through my university's student health center for depression and grief support. I don't even remember the man's name, but the therapist told me something that's stayed with me for more than 30 years. He said that it was an honor for me to have had the chance to care for my grandmother as she died, that the other people in my family who chose not to help out had lost as incredible opportunity to honor my grandmother before she died. Thinking of it in those terms helped me a lot.

Oh yes!!!! I absolutely agree with this! NO ONE else has stepped forward in the family to help, only me. He has apologized to me so many times, and I just told him --- hey, I was born for this! :)

[quote="garyo49, post:4, topic:242420"]

I'm wondering if you can get some help from your parish. I can't imagine people in my parish not wanting to help. God bless you and I will pray for you and you patents

[/quote]

While this would be a great idea in some situations, it is not practical for us. My parish is very far away from where my dad lives, and he is EXTREMELY private about his situation and would never ever let a stranger in.

[quote="GratefulDad, post:5, topic:242420"]

Here are some of hints and tips, aka the Spiritual Armor of God that I have picked up from a certain Catholic TV enterprise.;)

  • Attending the Latin Mass as much as possible even during the week.
  • Listening to Sacred Music and Georgian Chant, YouTube & Watershed have great material and most is free to listen to.
  • Reading and meditate on Fatima and Our Lady of the Rosary
  • Read and meditate on St. Theresa the Little Flower. Her writings of, "The Little Way" and "The Story of A Soul"
  • Read and meditate on St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy
  • Listen/watch the recordings of Bishop Fulton Sheen, again YouTube.

These are just my favorites and there are many others. Like the Novena of the Sacred Heart that just happens to run this month June 19th - 27th.

circleofprayer.com/sacred-heart-novena.html

God Bless and Praying for you...... GratefulDad

[/quote]

Thank you so much!! These are all great suggestions. My husband and I will be starting weekly adoration this week, so that will help I know. I also try to get to where he works and pray the evening office with the staff as many times during the week as possible.

Thank you ALL for your wonderful posts! :grouphug: Daddy had a better day yesterday, and got out of the house and spent time with my step-sister and her kids. Not something that is easy for him to do right now, but I'm glad he did it anyway.

~Liza


#7

[quote="lizaanne, post:6, topic:242420"]
Thank you James - yes, I am about 45 minutes away, so I go to his house when I can. My husband and I have very demanding work schedules so it's not always possible, but I have the ability to work from any location so it helps if I have to be with him. I also have an amazingly understanding manager who recently lost her own father and is extremely supportive of "family ALWAYS comes first".

[/quote]

It's good that you have an understanding boss and schedule/location flexibility. These are a gift from God. But even with this, I know that it can be nearly impossible to really "be there" for your loved ones.

Have you looked into what is available through Council on Aging and.or the local senior services? We have some wonderful services where I live, in home visits, Adult day care availability meals on wheels etc. But I also know that these things vary from locale to locale as do the costs.

But it might be worth looking into.

Also, you might want to consider talking to an elder care attorney. They are well versed in options, preotections etc that might give you a leg up if and when things become more acute.

Yes, he is already on medication to help with his anxiety and depression, but I do not feel it is working for him and it needs to be changed and/or adjusted. He has an appointment tomorrow so I'm praying (and begging him) that he will be totally open and honest with the doctor about how he's doing so they can truly assist him

.
To be blunt, Just because he has been prescirbed medication, this does necessarily not mean he is taking them. This is often the case with mod drugs. The patient takes them for a while, is feeling really good and then stops, "because they don't really need them anymore". I dont' say this to be insulting, I'm sure that you already know this, but it does bear mentioning.

Oh yes!!!! I absolutely agree with this! NO ONE else has stepped forward in the family to help, only me. He has apologized to me so many times, and I just told him --- hey, I was born for this! :)

This is a good attitude, but remember to take care of yourself too. Traveling this road with yoru parents will teach you just how much we really DO need to rely on God.

While this would be a great idea in some situations, it is not practical for us. My parish is very far away from where my dad lives, and he is EXTREMELY private about his situation and would never ever let a stranger in.

This is understandable, and not at all uncommon, but look into your options anyway (senior services, COA, asisted living etc.) There may come a time....or else you may find yourself needing to move in with him....
Also I would suggest you go ahead and talk with his pastor anyway. Perhaps he could drop by or call for a "chat" now and again.

Thank you so much!! These are all great suggestions. My husband and I will be starting weekly adoration this week, so that will help I know. I also try to get to where he works and pray the evening office with the staff as many times during the week as possible.

Definitely good Ideas

Thank you ALL for your wonderful posts! :grouphug: Daddy had a better day yesterday, and got out of the house and spent time with my step-sister and her kids. Not something that is easy for him to do right now, but I'm glad he did it anyway.

~Liza

Good to hear.

Peace
James


#8

I read where your Dad will not allow anyone into the home. My Mom was the same way. Gradually, I was able to get Hospice which should be able to extend its services to your step-mother. The house was filled with laughter when the Hospice worker arrived. Made a big difference.
Of course, this might not work for you. However, others reading should make a pledge to themselves that they will accept help when they become ill. The sick need help but the ones caring for those also need help. Those who are ill need to let go and stop trying to control the situation.
Regarding issues with extended family. Have them too. I feel it would be a great help if Sunday sermons by all beliefs delt with the subject as to how one should honor one’s aging parents. There’s usually one kid in the family who does it all others being too busy. Hogwash. Ditto for the step child who skips out leaving the step sibling to care for the step-parent. What a heartbreak that is for the step-parent. Nothing like being at the end of your life to discover your own flesh and blood doesn’t have the time or interest or pride to help. And then scenario where none of the kids can be bothered and let the parent’s elderly friends try and manage the situation. Not easy for 85 year olds trying to manage an elderly friend.
And as we get older and live longer there is the strange occurance of 70 year olds caring for their 90 year old parents with all of them having some complication due to illness. My 85 year old aunt cared for her 102 year old Mom after nursing her 53 year old daughter who died of cancer. Time for the grandkids to step in.


#9

My dad is a very young and healthy 62, he is not elderly in any sense of the word. He is having emotional issues with his wife’s cancer. He can take care of himself, and is taking his medication as required. He knows that only the meds will help him through this. They just need to be adjusted or changed.

This is understandable, and not at all uncommon, but look into your options anyway (senior services, COA, asisted living etc.) There may come a time…or else you may find yourself needing to move in with him…
Also I would suggest you go ahead and talk with his pastor anyway. Perhaps he could drop by or call for a “chat” now and again.

Moving in with him, at least while his wife is alive, is not an option. I have my own husband who needs me as well. Now one day that may change and he may have to come and stay with us, but I don’t see that happening for a very long time, if only based on where we are right now (certainly anything can change over night).

I have asked him to speak with his priest. He has promised me he will do this so I am not going to treat him like a child and do it behind his back. Now, if he doesn’t do it at all, then I may have to, but for now I trust him that he will make the call on his own.

:slight_smile:

~Liza


#10

It sounds as though you are doing all you can to cover the various bases.
Once you’ve done all of that you can, the last things to do are also the first, Love them and Pray for them.

It remains hard to watch and go through and situations can and will change over time.

Something “aicirt” said in his/her post caught my attention:
…others reading should make a pledge to themselves that they will accept help when they become ill…
We should all be aware of this and take time to talk to our spouses and children about these matters and even have living wills etc drawn up. It made a huge difference whem my Dad was sick and has helped me tremendously in dealing with my own Dear Wife’s illness.

Peace
James


#11

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