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Father is a caregiver but won't care for himself, how do I help?

My father retired at 57 to take care of his mom who he moved to a home and my step mom who has cancer. He has gotten to the point where he's very angry about the situation in general. And angry at me because I can't visit as often. I live an hour away and work two jobs. It's near impossible for me to go after work and sometimes weekends. At this point he won't take care of himself emotionally or take a break for himself ever. It's almost like he's become some caregiver martyr. I don't know how to help him, especially since he is so angry....
Status: Open    Jun 15, 2016 - 07:03 AM

Caregiving, Relationships

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Jun 16, 2016 - 08:14 AM

This is not unommon with family members that take on a caregiving role that initially is manageable, but becomes more and more demanding over time. It sounds as if your dad has become overwhelmed with his situation. This generally leads to feelings of guilt and a continued downward spiral. The bottom line is figuring out how to get him out of this pattern, and this will obviously require outside assitance and patience. If he rejects any suggestions of hiring someone to come in to assist, you might offer to initially arrange to bring a caregiver in with you on a visit. You could help orient the caregiver, as well as offer to take your dad out for a short break, perhaps lunch or coffee? The idea being to make sure that he's comfortable with the person and to give him a break from his routine. Start lightly, and work up to the caregiver being there longer, but making sure that he does something for himself during the caregiver's visits. Done properly he should become comfortable with the caregiver and look forward to the breaks. Best of luck!
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By catherine.waters on Jun 27, 2016 - 07:06 AM | Like (0)  |  Report

I learned from an earlier article that it is also important for the caregiver to know how much you appreciate what they are doing. Caregivers often feel judged by others who can't be there everyday and don't understand what they're going through. Words of gratitude go a long way.

By kharis_eppstein on Jun 27, 2016 - 07:24 AM | Like (0)  |  Report

Thank you for your response. My grandmother is actually in a home. My father feels a sense of obligation to go and visit daily, but is obviously getting more and more resentful of it. My step-mother, the one with cancer at home, is pretty self sufficient for the most part. I've tried to take him out to coffee or on a short hike, etc, but he always says he can't. I'll keep trying... thanks!

By catherine.waters on Jun 27, 2016 - 07:37 AM | Like (0)  |  Report

Maybe your stepmother would have some influence! Keep trying. You can only control so much. Maybe you can visit Grandma with him one day and then take him out for a bite. Good luck.

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Jun 27, 2016 - 07:56 AM

Sound likes he needs respite care. Can he be given a weekend off by having temporary caregivers come in to spell him? Other members of the family? There are support groups that meet, caregivers like him. It can be educational, but mostly it is just the solidarity and being around others that share burdens like he has. Would he go to something like that?

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