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January 26, 2009
When Mom Wants to Break Up Your Relationship


January 5, 2009
When the Inevitable Moving Day Comes for Mom and Dad


December 15, 2008
Running Ragged in Caregiving Runaround


December 1, 2008
Getting a Handle on Your Own Stress


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Posted: November 26, 2007

Practical Caregiving

Romantic Entanglements (or Not) for Caregivers and the Elderly

It’s no secret that your life changes when you become a caregiver. It’s more a matter once in caregiving of just how much you’ll let it change. The relationships we form or want to form and even those of our aging parents can certainly complicate things. 

That’s what Brian in Arizona and Mike in Texas are learning. For Brian, the question centers on a woman his dad knows and is making his life difficult. For Mike, it’s his own life and feeling trapped to the point of not even being able to date.

These are tough situations in questions pulled from my e-mailbag. Let’s see if I can help.

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Dear Jean:

I take care of my elderly Dad who just received notice that he is being sued. It seems that a lady friend of his is taking advantage of him. She says he agreed to co-sign on a house for the two of them to live in. Dad doesn’t remember agreeing and doesn’t want to live with her. In fact, he doesn’t even like her any longer. I believe she is looking for someone to support her, and thought Dad would be a good target. I think that’s why she came here for the winter.

I don’t know what to do to help him. I know his mind isn’t there all the time, but I don’t think he would have agreed to this situation. He has never dated her and has never been interested in her romantically.

I don’t know where to start to help him. What can I do?

Brian A., Scottsdale, Arizona

Dear Brian:

What a horrible situation! It still amazes me to see how people try to take advantage of the elderly. I’ve heard stories of women and men trying to get cars, houses, Social Security checks and many other things from the elderly, but not too many sue the other party to try to get what they want.

There are several things you should check into, but you will end up needing a lawyer.

First of all I would contact the Elder Abuse organization at its website. Click on the Contact Us tab for links and phone numbers for elder abuse help in your state, as well as lawyers who can help. Be sure to tell them the situation and do whatever you need to do to get this woman stopped.

Also, check into being a guardian. I'm not sure when you should do that, but the lawyer should be able to help with timing. And, of course, you certainly don't want to become responsible for paying for that house. Visit the National Guardianship Association website.

In addition, talk to your father’s doctor about this situation. He may be willing to give a statement that your father is not competent to make decisions like you described, and that could help get him out of the situation.

Good luck, and don't put this off. Start calling as soon as you can.

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Dear Jean:

I'm disabled and live at home with Mom taking care of her. She is pretty healthy, but she expects me to be there all the time, 24/7. She gets scared at night, so I can not go anywhere or have a date.

I can get around pretty good most of the time. My brothers and sisters are just to busy to do much with Mom. I do not know how much longer I can hang on. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

Mike S., Dallas, Texas

Dear Mike:

As you know, you need a break and must find a way to get out. First, let me explain something.

Your mother's reaction and expectation -- is typical. She is frustrated and doesn't want to face what may happen to her in the future, certainly not alone. She has always been in control of things, and she can't control her life the way she did in the past. She is afraid something will happen to her when you aren't there. She is trying to control her life the way she always has, but that means controlling you.

You need to find a way to get out while still taking care of your mother. Would your brothers be willing to help pay for someone to come in, so you can get out? Sometimes people are willing to help as long as they don't have to do the work themselves.

Does you mother have government assistance of any kind? I'm sure she would qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or something else. Talk to her doctor about having someone come into the house to help her. They will watch over her, and they’ll also help with house work if they have time. Call a few home health agencies for an appointment and ask them to evaluate her. You can find them listed in the Yellow Pages.

Also, contact the social worker at a local hospital and nursing homes, and call local churches to see if they have people who would like to help. There actually are people who like to help give a family caregiver a break. It's called respite.

There is a form I want you to look at in one of my first columns. The column is about knowing what you need as the first step to getting what you need. There’s also a "Practical Caregiving Needs and Resources Worksheet."

Finally, remember that giving your mother the best care possible does not mean that you have to do it all yourself. Sometimes the best care is given by other people who are less emotionally tied to the outcome. In my own case, my parents would do things for people who came into the house that they wouldn't do for me because I was their daughter. Give it a try.

© 2007 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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Please send me your questions, comments and issues regarding the practical side of caregiving at ASKJEAN@caregivershome.com, and remember to take advantage of our professionals and experts in the Ask an Expert section of our website. You'll find it in the left column on our homepage.

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