When Both Parents Need Your Care

Frequently when one parent develops Alzheimer’s, the other needs your help and care as well.  The second parent may be developing this illness.  Or they simply may be worn out with caregiving and coping and have health issues themself.

My dad was declining physically as my mom entered the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.  She had the responsibility of caring for him, but he was starting to notice signs of forgetfulness that were more than simply aging.  (His memory in his late 80s and early 90s was still crystal clear!)

Even though they lived 275 miles from us, my care and concern were needed.  My husband and I made more frequent trips to their home to help with care and to oversee their businesses.  Father needed this encouragement and help; Mother enjoyed our visits, too, even though she only asked for assistance with Father.

When Father died, I realized the extent to which Mother’s memory had declined, thus affecting her ability to care for herself…and her sister with Alzheimer’s, who now lived with her.  So my responsibilities were multiplied.

We’ll all have different situations as we care for parents with Alzheimer’s, or simply deteriorating physical abilities.  Hopefully support will be there for you from a spouse.  Sometimes you’ll receive help from siblings, but sometimes they will refrain from getting involved.

This can be a frustrating experience, yet a rewarding one in knowing you’re bringing your parents joy.

 

 

When One Parent Dies…Leaving You with Alzheimer’s Care

Taking care of one’s parents has become more publicized in recent years, but still adult children often are overwhelmed with it becomes an actuality.  As a child, I’d experienced grandparents living with us and my parents caring for them.  But I’d never really seriously considered caring for one or both parents. 

So when Father asked, “You’ll take care of Mother if I die first?” I immediately agreed.  I already was assisting both of them, but I’d never imagined Mother getting Alzheimer’s, even though her sister was afflicted with it.  (Even if I’d know of the challenges beforehand, I would have agreed to care for Mother.)

So, when Father died, I was left with Mother’s care, making her health and financial decisions, operating a business she and Father owned, and managing their rental properties.  I soon realized Mother was no help because Alzheimer’s, which Father had suspected, was invading her brain and soul.

In the early 1990s, when I began this caregiver’s journey, there weren’t so many resources for Alzheimer’s caregivers nor help available as now.  So my husband and I had to wade our way through this morass, looking for help and information.  My neighbor, who was caring for an Alzheimer’s relative, and I shared information and support. 

The idea of caring for a parent, or become the parent to your parent, can be overwhelming.  However…

  • Take it one step at a time
  • Seek out resources
  • Find support groups
  • Attend informational classes
  • Keep a sense of humor