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When you care more about your caree than they do - Carers UK Forum

When you care more about your caree than they do

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
I've just sat and completed the forms to apply for a needs and carers assessment but in all seriousness am wondering why I bothered.

I care for my dad ..91 next week but I feel like my efforts are wasted.

I do his laundry and make him change clothes and try to encourage personal hygiene ...yet i know he would think nothing of wearing the same clothes day and night for a month

Hes aneamic so I am giving him loads of red meat et c ....he knows the reasons why ..yet he will eat his potatoes and veg but leave half the meat

He has a catheter and needs to drink a lot every day so I put the jug of water by his chair ...he ignores it and thinks I'm bullying him when I refill his glass and tell him he must drink

I feel like I am fighting for his life when he's actually given up on it ...or as someone else said on here ..life's given up on him

How or when do we as carers know the time is right to just let them go ..let them be ..? I'm scared of being accused of neglect but sometimes look at him and knowing he has no enjoyment in life anymore ..wish I could just put him to bed one night and let him fade peacefully away
Hi Babybird
Thought I should just reply to say I know how you feel as I lost my 91 year old dad last Christmas after a steady decline.
I'm not sure there is a right answer to your question but you need to balance the fact that you have to keep to keep trying to make sure you never have any future regrets with accepting dad may need and want less now. You don't want to be left with what ifs rattling around in your head..Balance this with accepting that Dad may not have long left and that he is naturally winding down, his appetite for food and drink may lessen considerably and his ability to understand your attempts at coaxing him to have more.
I would also advice speaking to any medical team involved, perhaps they will do a referral to the SALT team who can assess Dad. This will stop anyone thinking you are in any way neglecting dad and they may suggest supplements or soft food diet. It may also be worth keeping a food diary- what has been offered, what has been eaten etc .
I think two things possibly -

As we age, many 'very old' folk sort of 'regress' to being as small children again - almost 'elderly todders' so to speak. So, just as a 'real' toddler would prefer to eat 'tasty food' and not boring food, etc, so with the 'elderly' toddlers too.

Second, as you surmise, he may well be 'winding down' and giving up on life' etc etc . We don't really know how it feels to be 'so close' to our natural death age, (ie, 'very old') but maybe we, too, will start to 'wind up our lives'. Think of that chap who has just gone to dignitas at 104 - he was looking very good for his age, but it sounds like he had simply just 'had enough'.

We have to use the analogy, I suppose, of us having a VERY 'long day'. We've done so much in the day, and the evening has been full on too, and we are given the offer of going clubbing at midnight....do we take it? Or do we yawn, reach for our Horlicks, and head for bed and a good night's sleep.

Maybe, you know, that is what we'll all feel like when we reach 'that stage' of our lives?????

(Lovely to think we might then 'wake up' in a brand new reincarnated body somewhere, or in heaven etc, but that is for the theists to hope for!) (nice idea though ,and you never know!!!!!)
Re Food - in general, the very elderly start opting (or 'reverting' maybe?) to 'kiddie food'. Basically 'sweet carbs'.

To my mind, at extreme old age, do they really NEED what we would consider a balanced diet? Do they need to build muscle with protein (meat and fish), and how many vitimans do they need (fresh veg) etc etc.

What they need is 'fuel' and not that much of it as they have slowed down so much. So 'sweet carbs' (ie, pudings!) should really 'suffice' in the main. Or 'savoury carbs' (eg, potato etc).

I reallky wouldn't stress over food too much. Meat is probably much easier for them to physically consume if it is, say, minced (eg, shepherd's pie etc), rather than in 'big lumps'.

Their appetite is small, and shrinking.

And, as with small children, visibly 'stressing' and endless 'coaxing' may be counterproductive. (A friend of mine says it can take over an hour to 'feed' her elderly father with dementia....after every mouthful he pushes the plate away and is 'finished'....)
Finally, if I may say soethign that might sound a bit 'callous' but is really only trying to be 'realistic'....if indeed your dad has started to 'withdraw' from engaging in life - eg, doesn't notice he's wearing dirty clothes, doesn't want to eat, etc - isn't that a GOOD thing?

After all, he IS nearing the end of his life. So, since that is inevitable, isn't it BETTER that he has started to 'withdraw'??

I gave that analogy earlier about how, after a long day and a busy evening out and about, we long for our cup of Horlicks and heading for bed and a good night's sleep - but wouldn't it be WORSE if we WANTED to go out clubbing at midnight, but instead were dragged home and 'put to bed' against our will, our dancing shoes thrust into the wardrobe, all unused and itching to be danced the night away in?

So, really, as I say, for HIS sake, it's GOOD he's 'withdrawing'....

WE feel the loss - we WANT them to go on living and being engaged' with us.... but for them, since they have to leave us 'anyway' shortly, it must be better they start to 'want' to go......
Thank you ladies
Great advice

And Jenny i absolutely agree 100% with your last post.
Yes, I think it's such a hard thing for us to accept, because WE are of course 'engaged with life'. There is that old, and rather poignant saying, about 'turning one's face to the wall'....ie, 'away from life'.

I do hope it will be like that, though - ie, that when the time comes we shall WANT to go. We'll have simply 'had enough'.

(In a way, it begs an extremely profound and probably unanswerable question, which is, if we could have an infinite life span, would we choose it? Or would the time come when, at some point, after however many yeas' existence - assuming of course it was a nice existence, no suffering of any kind, and no emotional loss because everyone could have infinite life spans too - we would simply say 'done!' and turn our faces to the wall......???

I suspect that if humans ever do get that option in some way, we would eventually 'end up' in some kind of meditative trance, like a guru or whatever, contemplating the universe and achieving enlightenment. Maybe, in a way, that is the 'ultimate' destination of sentient and sapient beings????)

(Seems a bit boring to me at the mo - but that's because I'm still 'engaged with life'.....!)
The very essence of a " Family carer.

We care because nobody else could care like us.

In fact , the very notion that keeps us caring ... and doesn't the System play up that relationship ?

With us , the responsibility to protect it's must vunerable citizens can be safely left to 6.5 million of us ... knowing they do not have to provide anything other than the merest of rations and support to keep us caring.

The word EXPLOIT is very appropriate here ... if that word is strong enough ?
But your post makes the assumption that 'the state' has any duty or responsibility or indeed any relationship at all with its own citizens -

Am I my brother's keeper?

Is the state my brother's keeper?

etc etc

I guess the riposte is - 'well, if the state takes my money in taxes, it can damn well provide for me in my infirmity'.

In a democracy we are able to demand that 'social contract', and hold the state to account if our contributions in taxes are NOT spent on providing for us in our time of infirmity.

Most of us, of course, live our lives in the blithe assumption neither we, nor any of our family, will ever be infirm in the first place, nor need any assistance.
Any society that has a hierachy who decides / administrates has a duty towards the very citizens that it represents.

The very trade off when considering democracy as a concept.

At the basic level ... mutual cooperation ... a term I use in both social and political circles ... a concept that is an alternative to both traditional Left ( Red ) / Right thinking.

The very point used on the infamous John Battle thread on Compass almost a decade ago ... when a few carers really did come out to play !

The " Duty " of the hierachy ( Call it Government ) to protect is no exception.

The alternative is to allow the strong to flourish ... at the expense of the weak ?

USA as opposed to most Nordic countries ?

If I appear to be deviating from the original posting , not quite so ... I'm attempting to reinforce it.

A basic premise that deserves a little expansion.