Working from home while living with a parent with Dementia

Hello all,

A few months ago, I moved home to my parents house while I was furloughed to help my mum who is my dad’s carer - he has Vascular Dementia and so doesn’t yet suffer from memory problems, however his lack of balance and coordination, and poor eyesight has meant that his falls (always backwards) around the house have increased dramatically in the last 3 months despite lots of handrails being in place and multiple visits from Occupation Health professionals.

I am now back at work (wfh) and have also had to step up my caring duties in order to give my mum a bit of a break. Since dad’s diagnosis about 3 years ago it has been emotionally very difficult for us all, however as I am now working from their home office, I am on tenterhooks most of the time waiting to hear the next time he falls which can be heard throughout the house. I have to hear to be able to hear to be able to help him up as my mum isn’t strong enough, so I’m looking for advice as to how I can concentrate on my day job, while still be able to help when needed - is there anything anyone can recommend? Thanks, Pandora

If he falls you must NOT attempt to pick him up, but call an ambulance instead. Too many carers have bad backs.
The ambulance service will notify the GP and then there is a true record of what is going on. The GP can then put measures in place to get much more support at home, or ask Social Services to consider residential care.
You need your life back. Concentrate on what dad needs now. Think about getting together some things ready for the day when either he falls and goes into hospital with a broken bone, or residential care.

Thanks for your reply. GP is aware and monitoring the situation. We are thinking long and hard about scenarios like you’ve pointed out but for now, I was just asking for advice on ways to concentrate during work hours - covid has meant that we’re not missing out on anything so it’s not about that at all.

I’m sure others are in similar situations whereby they are working from home and suddenly it’s difficult to separate work and home stresses.

Have you applied for Continuing Healthcare? You can have it for someone living at home, as well as in residential care.
You should NOT be expected to care during working hours.

Hi love. Well done for stepping up at this time. Your mum will be forever grateful.

My Dad has dementia and I have been his primary carer for a few years now. I was doing my job from home at the start of lockdown and had to manage him and it, somehow. It wasn’t easy. There are a couple of tools that can help you. Rather than listening out all the time, which is maddening, there are baby video monitors and alarm mats that are available so you can track when your a dad is on the move and when he is safe, in an armchair, for example.

Does Dad move about a lot? Is Mum able to keep an eye on him most of the day? What work are you doing? Just trying to get a picture of how to best minimise the disruption to you, while keeping Dad as safe as possible.

I think you and mum would benefit from introducing someone else into the household, so that you both know you can have some guaranteed “time off” from caring for dad, and the workload for both of you is reduced. Others have found that having someone who can fulfil both a domestic and caring role can be useful. Someone who can do things like vacuum round, clean the bathroom etc. but who is also there to help with dad. If you had one person regularly, even if it was just once or twice a week, so that you could build up some trust, then gradually increase the hours as dad’s needs increase. Capable women taking time off from a nursing career whilst bringing up a young family might welcome this sort of part time job. With someone like this in the house, you would know that while she was there to help clean and care for dad, mum would be happy, and you wouldn’t have to keep one ear open constantly.

Thank you for your kind message, really do appreciate it and I hope your situation has become a little easier with getting used to being at home?

He doesn’t move about a great deal and so mum does keep an eye on him most of the day aside from in the middle of the night when he’s going to the loo on his own.

I work for a wonderful Charity, so it’s all computer based at the moment - a few Zoom meetings here and there and thankfully I’ve only had to leave meetings abruptly twice so far. My team in work are fully aware of the situation and are very supportive. As my dad is still mostly himself (aside from being able to articulate things well and not talking a great deal, and the physical problems) we’re doing our best to maintain his dignity but I’m slowly introducing things to the household to make things easier so I’ll absolutely keep the things you’ve suggested in mind as things progress. Thank you again.

Thank you for your message, and yes I absolutely agree with that - especially as at some point I will have to move back to my life/job in London if/when things get back to some kind of normality in the future. My mum knows that she’ll need help when I leave so has asked for support from the doctors/occupational health (as we’re in a very rural area there aren’t many affordable private options unfortunately). We’re due to get a downstairs wet room installed soon (lockdowns permitting) which will help greatly with limiting daytime stair use and hopefully some human support soon.

Is the downstairs bathroom going to be funded by a Disabled Facilities Grant?
If you are going to have to move back to London at some point, then be sure to introduce someone to the household while you are still there, so that you can supervise and mum can get used to her.