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EDITORIAL RESPONSES  /Caregiver DadEditorial List

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Caregiver Dad Editorial Responses
These are just some of the many responses we received from our Editorial of 06/11/09 - Caregiver Dad

Hi Gary,
I would like to write about my fiancť, Philip.
There are very few men who would be willing to take on the role of fiancť to a woman whose 87 year old father with dementia and heart disease lives with her.  You can imagine the kinds of things he has had to learn to deal with: very few date nights, an extreme lack of privacy, aiding and assisting me as we bring my father to church each Sunday, eating at the SAME cafe each Sunday after church because my father feels comfortable there, having to watch COPS and Animal Planet as opposed to the NBA finals. The list goes on and on.
He doesn't have to do this. Clearly there are any number of women he could choose who do not come with such situations.  But he is steadfast in his choice and NEVER complains about it.  He is very caring with my father, always jumping up to help him when he begins to hobble away from the table or elsewhere or bringing him coffee so as to avoid the risk of spills 
Because my father enjoys Cribbage, we play this card game almost every night.......sometimes for 2 hours straight.  It gets tiresome, but Philip plays with enthusiasm and compassion for my father's inability to count his cards correctly. When he isn't there and my father and I play alone, it is not as enjoyable.
Another thing poor Philip has to endure is my father's accusations.  Because he has dementia and because Phil is the "low man on the totem pole", so to speak, he gets blamed for everything.  "Phil took my pocket knife; Phil didn't flush the toilet; Phil left the light on; Phil dented the tractor."  I don't know how he endures that - I'm not sure I could. 
On this Father's Day, I want to recognize Philip, not only as a great father to two grown young ladies, but as a great fiancť' and a remarkable care giver.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity.
S. W.


I am a Social Worker with the local Area Agency on Aging.  About 9 years ago, I made a home visit where a son was caring for his aging parents, more so his Mom at that time.  She was diagnosed with Alzheimerís type Dementia and as she was declining, so was her ability to help her husband who was blind.  To hear the sonís story, still to this day, brings me that warmth and realization that the world is still full of good, unselfish, self-righteous people.  Their son relocated across the country from California to move in with his parents in order to keep them together and at home as long as he could.  His own needs came second, but he always found the positive in situations and has never once regretted making the move.  He is one of the smartest caregiverís I have met.  He tapped into community resources to assist him, enabling his parents to remain in their own home for the next 6 years.  He recognized his limitations and there did come a day about 3 years ago that both parents moved to our local nursing home.  Although not in their own home, he was able to keep them together. 

His care giving did not end with the move.  He remained very active in their care.  His mother passed away about 2 years ago and his father continues to live at the nursing home.  This caregiver regularly attends our Family Caregiverís Support Group, which meets once a month.  Although the support group cannot cure diseases or provide all the answers, it was able to help him through some difficult times.  He now helps other care givers get through some of those same situations.  He has developed some great friends within the group, especially with two other men who provide care for their wives.  They have become quite the threesome- some of the stories of their adventures with each other are funnier than the care giverís stories.  I applaud this gentleman for what he has so freely and unconditionally given his parents.  He will tell you he has not given them nearly what they have given him over this 9 year time period.  He recommends that family members jump at the chance to provide care for another family member- it has fascinated him as to how much he has not only learned about his parents, but himself as well.

My brothers, as well as all members of my family, are providing care for my 91 year old Dad.  My Mom is 80 and is a stressed out caregiver, but is very devoted to meeting my Dadís wishes, which are for him to remain in his house.  Recently, in order for us to continue with this plan, my brother and his wife left their home and moved in with Mom and Dad.  We also contacted our local Hospice agency who immediately admitted him to their care.  This has been a great emotional support for my Mom.  My brother is a husband, father, and very active in the community.  He works full time and has a small part time grass cutting business.  He is about to become a father-in-law, as two of his children are getting married next year, just a few months apart.  My brother is a man of a few words, but his heart speaks loud and clear.  He probably hasnít always made the best choices in his life, but I can tell you he made a good choice when choosing a wife.  She supports his every endeavor and is very involved in the care of my Dad.  Moving out of a home you have lived in for 30 years cannot be easy, but he is dedicated to seeing that our Dadís wishes are fulfilled!
Submitted by:
J. A.

I was a caregiver for my parents for 8 years...six years for my Mom and eight years for my Dad. The last four years of my Mom's life, we (and I say "we" because the whole family joined in my Mom's battle against Cancer) battled cancer on and off until she lost the fight. My Mother and I were very close and I feel sometimes that my Dad got his feelings hurt by our special bond and closeness. Mom required a lot of my time and attention because of her constant doctor's appointments, treatments, surgeries, and effects from the chemo treatments. I had to resign from my job to care for my Mother in her final days which I will never regret and once my Mother was gone...I found myself jobless and realizing that my Dad had some health issues that needed to be addressed. I began working with my Dad to find a new pulmonologist to relieve his respiratory problems and working with him on some other health issues.

Being unemployed, I was able to devote full attention to my Dad's needs and to grieve along with him about my Mother's death. We spent lots of quality time together....going thru old photographs, sharing memories, attending church, and sharing some of our favorite meals together. My Father passed away two years after my Mother died, but it was such a special time between the two of us. He realized that I loved him just as much as I loved my Mother which was so important to resolve before his death. He told me many times before he died that he didn't know what he would do without me and that he loved me. This is a memory that I will treasure all my life. Those two years with my Dad were so important for our relationship. This will be my second Father's Day without my Dad and I look back on that special time with him with fond memories and no regrets.
Thank you,


As one of my dad's daughters, I am the primary caregiver for my 85 year old father.     In 2007 I took a major career demotion and relocated home to care for my father, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.    As the disease progressed, I took early retirement this past year, a financial burden for me now and for my future.    There was no question; this was the right thing to do for my dad.    
Thirteen years ago my mother passed away from pneumonia, the angelís way of taking her out of Alzheimer's.     At the time my dad looked to me for assistance and support.    Being single and at the time, living relatively close to the family home, I was the one who was called at work and many middle of the night pleas for assistance.   Not having the advanced medical drugs available today, my mom went through a terrible time with the disease and was eventually placed in a nursing home.   The trauma associated with trying to find a suitable facility for the woman he spent 50 years with, was horrible for my dad.  Approximately six months prior to her placement, I moved back home to provide the necessary support my dad required.    He was exhausted -- physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The first time I changed my mother's undergarments was a traumatic experience; however, nothing can prepare you for bathing your own mother (or father), regardless if you are a male or female.      I applaud all caregivers who take on the thankless task of caregiving.
I have three other siblings; one  who is a brother.      My younger sister has been wonderful.   She looked after my dad prior to me moving back home in 2007.    She calls daily, and visits at least four times a week.      My brother and older sister never call, nor do they perform any sort of caregiving tasks.   When I relocated home and continued to work full time, I asked for assistance from my brother.    His response was "I have a job and a family."     Apparently when I was working for 40 hours a week, that is not considered a job.    Although my dad designated him and my older sister as his POA and health care advocate, they do the absolute minimum to assist in caregiving.   They come here once a week and sit on their butts, even when there are obvious signs dad needs assistance.   They are not involved in any of his physician appointments, nor do they ask the outcome of these healthcare issues. 
One particular incident sticks in my mind.     As my younger sister and I were assisting dad into the vehicle for a doctor's appointment, my brother stopped by.    When I told my brother we were on the way to the doctor's for an emergency visit, my brother turned on his heels and said "I just won $500 in a pool and I'm off to buy golf clubs."   As a result of the doctor appointment, my dad was admitted to the hospital.     To my younger sister's disagreement,  I refused to call my brother and older sister.      In doing so, I created a crisis to get their attention about the seriousness of their father's healthcare.    Unfortunately, it doesn't matter.    Previous to the hospitalization, my older sister was not available during the day to care for dad.     Oh look, now that dad is hospitalized, she can come to the hospital and stay all day.    They both have strongly suggested dad be placed in a nursing home.   Wouldn't that make life a lot easier for them.    
I am well aware of the issues, anger and resentment I harbor.     Unfortunately, some dysfunctional families are pushed even further apart during the caregiving process.     One fact remains, my dad changed my diapers and helped me when I needed care, I am more than happy to return the favor.    Apparently what they both don't realize is time not spent with your father can never be recaptured.  
My primary focus is keep dad safe, comfortable and in his own home for as long as we can.    Having a good sense of humor, balanced outlook, and being thankful to have my dad around at 85, is a blessing for me.    
Caregiving is the hardest task I have ever taken on, yet one of the most rewarding experiences I will ever have.
Thank you for the opportunity to vent.



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