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What I Learned After I Started Taking Care of My Elderly Dad

Elderly man sitting on bed looking serious - Indoors

After my mother (of blessed memory) passed away nearly six and a half years ago, my father decided that under no circumstance did he want to be in a nursing facility, assisted or otherwise.

In order to fulfill my father’s wishes, about two years ago, my husband and I packed up our apartment and moved into my childhood home. My father did not “need” us at that time but we were here for good measure. And there were a few incidents that came about where I was glad we were here.

The latest incident happened at the end of May. My father was rushed to the ER and was admitted into the hospital for eight days, and then sent to a rehabilitation facility for about two weeks. He was released to come home and he was doing well, until recently. Early on a Sunday morning the medical alert button was set off and off to the hospital ER once again. After another five day stay in the hospital he was released home to convalesce but with a big difference. He will have to have 24-hour care.

My husband and I have done our best to keep him comfortable, but it was then that we realized we need help.

I read “A Journey In Caregiving for a Mother with Alzheimer’s” by Dr. Stephen Hoag and this quote has stuck with me ever since, “No matter what the relationship was between the parent and child—whatever it was—this is going to be extremely challenging because it is not logical. There’s no way to deal with it rationally or directly. You don’t reason it out. What I’ve said to so many people is: we always must lead with our love.”

Being a caregiver to your parent is odd because it is like the roles have reversed. I have always said that my dad took care of me and now it’s time for me to take care of him. I also could never do any of this without my husband and all of his help. He steps right in when he sees I am just flailing, trying to keep my head above water.

With all that said, it’s very hard to admit that you need help. Asking for help has always somehow felt like a failure on my part. I always said and thought that we could do it ourselves. I will push myself to the point of exhaustion, both physically and emotionally, here’s the thing – when I do that, I am no good to myself or anyone else.

So, it reached the point where I had to ask for help. Help from my sisters, but most importantly help from a caregiver. We have brought in an incredible Hospice team at home. They are not only there for my dad, physically, medically, emotionally and spiritually, but also for my husband and me. It has helped tremendously to take some of the worry and stress off of me and be able to just call them day or night with questions, comments, and concerns. We have also brought in some home health aides to help us with the everyday, mundane things of life.

Through it all, I have learned that asking for help is not a weakness but a strength—a strength in knowing that when I feel like I am flailing I have others to help and catch me. Even with the self doubt that I still have, I know I am a daughter who loves her dad with all her heart, and I am doing everything I can to lead with my love every single day. My dad is grateful, and my love is enough.


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