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Help for my dad as sole carer to my mum - Carers UK Forum

Help for my dad as sole carer to my mum

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
I'm wondering if anyone could help me.

My dad has the very difficult task of building up my mum's independence since she has been suffering from severe anxiety and depression. He's my mum's sole carer and has been now for about 4 months.
He started off really well and we've seen some great leaps in her independence but there's still a very long way to go and I think he's struggling to know how to continue to slowly build up her independence.

I don't spend all my time at home with them due to work commitments but I feel as though when I come home I get very frustrated at the amount he is still doing for her. I feel that I am able to see a greater level of independence from her when she is given enough encouragement. But I feel that he doesn't know how much encouragement to give her and will often do things for her over concerns of what might happen if he isn't the one to do them.

I also feel very guilty when I feel frustrated in this way as I am not her sole carer and I am probably not able to understand how difficult of a task it really is.
I don't know how to help the situation or if I even should try to alter the situation, so some advice about this would be really really helpful and greatly appreciated.

Thank you xx
Hi Charli
You are worried and frustrated, but how does Dad feel? Sometimes things look worse from the outside . Have you have really talked with him about it away from Mum?
Have either Mum, and/ or Dad had any counselling to help them with the changes?
Are you sure there isn't another reason for Mums decline, such as depression, dementia, other illness?

How old are they?

Sorry for so many questions but is tough to answer with our knowing more

Chris, how old are your parents?
Has mum had a Needs Asssessment, and dad a Carers Assessment, from Social Services?
Speaking personally, I think the first step is to understand why your mother is depressed and with anxiety. Is this new, and if so what triggered it, and if it's long-standing, then, again, what triggered it, and what has done about it so far.

If you read on this Mental Health thread you 'll see a lot of refrences about 'firm love' and 'boundaries' and 'supporting not enabling' - please do read them.

The important thing is to understand the difference between what your mum 'wants' and what she 'needs'. If your dad's care is focussed on the latter, ie 'needs', that's fine - but if it's just 'pandering to her wants' (as in, 'wants' driven by her depression/anxiety' then not-fine. If it is the latter, then her 'wants' will be bottomless - he will never get her to 'give it a go'etc, and the more he 'looks after her' the more he's making a rod for his own back, alaas.

Never forget that 'supporting' someone with any kind of MH issues is about moving them FORWARD to a 'better place' in their heads whereas 'enabling' merely allows them to stay where they are without changing. It's often difficult to see the difference, but it's vital to do so.
So much depends on mum's age. If you are working, then she is probably at least 50? At that age, the menopause can be problematic. However, if she is nearer 70, then there might be some long term underlying problem liked with the ageing process.
Is the house as easy as possible to look after? Tumble dryer, dishwasher, easy garden to look after? Does dad need a hand, maybe a weekly cleaner?
If not, keep gently urging him to make life easier for himself.
Thank you all so much for your responses.

With regards to my mum's depression, it was triggered from being treated for breast cancer over a year ago now. In that time she has had two hospital admissions and we've built up trusting relationships with a couple of mental health professionals and she is now stable but has a long way to go in terms of her recovery.
We are currently looking into her hormone treatment with regards to trying to improve her mental health but over the past year she has lost a large amount of her independence which is what we are trying to build up again.

Both of my parents are around age 60 and have taken early retirement due to my mum's illness. Both me and my sister help with cleaning the house each week as well as helping with some meals. As far as I know they've had the necessary needs and carers assessments. They've not had any proper counselling as of yet but I think it would do my mum in particular the world of good.

What is troubling me is that my dad seems to be finding jobs, or as I call it 'projects', to do around the house which I don't always think are as important as he feels they are. I know this can be a common thing for newly retired men to do and we do joke about it. But the reason he has retired is to care for my mum, which in a lot of ways he's doing brilliantly with, but I do sometimes think that he struggles in knowing how to build up her independence. Thank you for your suggestions Jenny Lucas, I'll have a look at those references on the forum as they do sound relevant to my situation.
I've spoken to my dad about this but I try to tread very carefully because I don't want to insult or undermine what he is doing because it's such a hard job and he does try really hard.

Thanks again to you all
Charli x
Retiring early and staying home with mum is a huge adjustments. I'm not surprised in the slightest that dad is inventing little projects for him to mentally escape to. Please don't knock it. He's there for mum, in the background if she needs him, but if he is always there right by her, she'll never regain her independence.
When I had life saving surgery my OH stayed at home, together with my eldest son they built a shepherd's hut from chassis (which they extended!) up, in about 6-8 weeks.
My son has LD, sometimes me having a project is the only thing that makes me able to cope.
It's a real shame that mum has had life saving treatment and now doesn't know how to enjoy her life. Push for counselling as much as you can, and dad needs some too. Most of all they need some time apart each week. Does mum attend any groups or clubs? They would help take her mind off her recent ill health.
Sorry the new site layout had me confused as to how to reply for a while which explains my delay.

Thank you for your words about my dad with regards to his 'projects'. I think you are probably right that it is his way of coping which would actually make sense because I do often think I don't know how he copes so well with this.
I have tried to encourage my dad to seek counselling to help to deal with the life changing consequences to him with my mum being so ill. He doesn't seem interested at the moment but I think I need to do more to remind him that it's always an option that he could consider.
My mum does have a couple of occupational health groups that gives them time apart from one another which is good for both of them but I'm not sure if it's enough at the moment and whether a carer would be a good investment just to give my dad a bit more respite.

Thanks again for your considerate advice
Charli x

We have all been struggling with the forum during the last few weeks.It's still "work in progress but gradually I'm getting used to it.

If you look at the top of the page, next to the Carers UK logo, there are three horizontal lines with "Quick links" written to the right. Click on the lines and a lot of indexes pop up.

Sometimes men just prefer to go into their "man cave". Mine certainly did!

When my husband died I found reading books easier than talking to anyone, would dad go to the library or book shop to see if he could find anything helpful?