Struggling to cope with my new role as dad's carer

Hello everyone and thank you for taking the time to read my post. I hope it’s not too long winded and waffly! :slight_smile:
My dad is 80 years old and like many of our dads out there, he worked hard all of his life. He was a police dog handler and following his retirement he was active and used to enjoy walking and tinkering with old cars.
Now he is really struggling with old age. He has difficulty walking because he has neuropathy (Non diabetic) in his feet and he has all ready had a few falls. I have been pro active by sorting out a wheel chair and stair lift, putting in care connect, and some other practical aids to help him in his home. He lives alone since my mum died 10 years ago and has always managed really well until recently.
I work full time as a nurse, I am married and live with my husband and daughter. My dad lives about 20 minutes away from me by car.
I have good support from my mum’s sister but she has her own life and it is a complex one as her eldest daughter is disabled.
I am an only child and now find myself needing to do more and more for my dad. I worry constantly about him and I am scared of what the future holds in terms of how much more I will need to do. I am all ready taking him grocery shopping once a week, to the library when he needs to go and if I am off work on a Friday we go out for the afternoon. He goes out every Sunday for lunch either to my mam’s sister or to my other aunty (who is 79) I am now doing his laundry because he can no longer manage this himself. I also do some jobs around the house for him like hoovering and dusting etc. If I am not visiting him I ring him every day for a chat but conversation is somewhat limited because nothing much changes on a daily basis
My dad is getting forgetful now and often says he thinks he is losing his mind. He is quite a pessimistic person which I find draining at times.
There are days where he sees no one at all if I am working a few shifts at a time. This really upsets me. I have asked my daughter to call in and see him but it falls on deaf ears and I have given up asking now. My husband has a really stressful job and works long hours so I don’t feel able to ask him to help. He barely has time to visit his own mother so I don’t want to burden him with my dad as well.
I find myself crying most days because I don’t know where to turn. I really don’t think my dad would like the thought of carers going into his home - he is a very private man and I don’t think he would like this.

I feel as though my life is being robbed of joy because of the time I spend worrying about my dad. My husband says I should put myself first but I find this incredibly difficult to do.

How do you find the balance between caring for and elderly parent and living the life you enjoy ? I just feel incredibly sad and unhappy most of the time and that is not how I want to feel.
I am grateful for any advice and help

Thank you all Xx

Hi Andrea,

Welcome to the forum.

If dad feels he is “losing his mind”, then he is probably aware that his brain isn’t as sharp as it once was, so don’t deny his feelings, just talk to him about the future, writing Power of Attorney so that if in the future, he needs help in any way, you will have the authority to deal with everything if necessary.

Has he written a will? As an only child, things should be fairly straightforward in terms of inheritance.

As an only child, there was only ever you to do whatever your parents needed. Having no one to share things with can be good, and bad too!

The time has come to introduce a third person into dad’s life, so that you can MANAGE dad’s future care needs, but NOT do everything yourself. Think of it as being dad’s care MANAGER rather than provider.

Looking at the list of things you do for dad, he needs “another person” to do these things for him, but it doesn’t have to be you. Shopping, cleaning, doctor’s appointments etc. can all be done by someone else.

For the next week, write down everything you are doing for dad. Then review it.

Can it be avoided altogether by changing things slightly. Wearing polo shirts rather than woven shirts, using a tumble dryer rather than a washing line, are good examples.

Cleaning, washing, and cooking can all be done by someone else. Id dad had a washer dryer he could probably do it all himself. Dirty clothes in, clean dry clothes out. This would help him keep a bit of independence.

Shopping. Does dad use the internet? If not, get him started, so he can shop online. I’ve used Tesco and Ocado, both very good, and they will even put things away if you are disabled!

Is dad now claiming Attendance Allowance?

My own mum was housebound for many years, I fell into the same trap as you, and didn’t know how to get out. I only managed when I was recovering from life saving surgery when I simply couldn’t look after myself, never mind mum, for a few months!

I’ve just come on to this forum, and your post is so much of how I am feeling right now. Dad is 80, lives alone, and I’m not an only child but no one else speaks to him (and he hates my husband). He has mobility issues, falls, is almost completely deaf, has memory problems and is struggling massively with normal tasks now. He’s refused to go to a doctor as ‘they’ll put him in a home’, refuses hearing aids, and to add to that he’s a hoarder so his house is utterly cluttered and filthy. I work full time, with several hours commuting, have two kids, my own chronic health issues and this has driven me to severe depression. I’ve cleaned out his house to get rid of maggots (seriously), and within the next week it’s back to being awful. I can’t cope anymore, and whilst I’ve always put dad being able to trust me as a priority, I think I now need to seek the support he doesn’t want. We had another massive row about it earlier, but help is needed.

So partly I’m responding in sympathy - not that that helps - but also so I feel like there’s someone else who gets how horrid this is. The other post about being his ‘manager’ feels like a good way to put it. So I’m going to try that mindset and go from there


Hello Andrea and also Julie,
One fact to store away in the back of your mind is that you do NOT have to look after Dad. No-one would come to arrest you if you turned your back and never saw him again. This is NOT what I am suggesting you do, but the fact that caring is not compulsory could perhaps help in that there is a ‘get out of jail card’ to use in extremity and maybe as a reminder to Dad that he is lucky to have you.
Another thing to get fixed in your head is that just because Dad has lived a long life and is now frail or struggling does not mean his well-being is more important than yours or any other member of the family like your child or spouse.
Elderly people, men especially I personally think, are very reluctant to give up any control, to accept that they are old now and cannot manage as they once did.
No use rowing with them. Makes them even more stubborn. There might be an avenue through
1). Suggesting that they are entitled to things because they have paid their taxes or reached a certain age. They aren’t too proud to accept their pension or their bus pass for example? Entitled to OAP rates at many places, Entitled to free medical care and so on.
Also entitled to an assessment from Social Services to see what his needs are and what help they could offer. (YOU are also entitled to a Carer’s assessment).
2). Have you actually told Dad how much you are struggling? If dad has passed the point where his love for his daughter is secondary to his self concern then it is also past the point where you should continue sacrificing yourself for him.
At this point you become a Care Manager. Not a full time Care giver. First priority is your life and your family.
Loads more pointers and advice available on this forum. Keep posting. If you don’t reply we can’t know what you need.

Also entitled to an assessment from Social Services to see what his needs are and what help they could offer. (YOU are also entitled to a Carer’s assessment).

Links follow … usual Forum health warning … waiting times … a real post code lottery … and … what’s available on paper
doesn’t necessary mean they are available in practice … LA continuing cutbacks nationwide … some now beyond the bone …
especially in less prosperous areas :\

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