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Published October 31, 2010, 12:00 AM

Bursack: Family needs some relief from constant caregiving

Dear Carol: My dad has lived with me since he broke his hip and then had back surgery.

By: Carol Bradley Bursack, INFORUM

Dear Carol: My dad has lived with me since he broke his hip and then had back surgery. The only place he can sleep is our living room since he can’t climb steps. I love him, but I’m burned out. My sister is willing to take my dad for a month so I can have a break. We don’t want to put him in a nursing home and don’t think he’s eligible anyway, but he even refuses to stay with my sister for a month. He insists we can’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to do, but I need time for my family. Dad wants me all to himself, and he’s making my relationship with my husband and children very bad. I don’t know what to do. – Michelle

Dear Michelle: This situation isn’t good for you or your dad; only he doesn’t know it. I’m glad your sister has offered to help.

First, I’m not so sure that he wouldn’t qualify for nursing home care, though assisted living would be an option if he doesn’t. Much depends on his mobility. The cost would be high, but your health is “expensive” as well. The situation you are in could do serious damage to your health, and your marriage and family welfare are at risk.

For now, getting him to your sister’s home seems to be your focus, though it sounds to me that an assisted living or a nursing home will eventually be necessary. A lot of changes may be harder for him than one adjustment to assisted living or a nursing home, so think this over carefully.

Your dad knows how to make you feel guilty. Please stand firm. Get some backing from a third party, such as an old friend of your dad’s, a spiritual leader he trusts, or a social worker. You need support so you can say, without wavering, that he is going to your sister’s home – or to a facility, if you go that route – so you can have time for your family. Tell him you love him but your family needs some normalcy and he needs more care than you can give him on your own.

You love your dad, but fear of change seems to be making it impossible for him to be reasonable, so you have to reason for him.

Take care of yourself and your whole family. That is important for everyone, even your dad. He may end up happier in a nursing home than he is under the current living conditions.


Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached at carol@mindingourelders.com.

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