Hands holding a bandaged heart

Your Caregiver Parent: Navigating a Strained Relationship

Do you have a parent who is living with Alzheimer's or dementia? Do you have a strained relationship with your other parent who is caring for them? If so, you are not alone.

When my mom was living with Alzheimer's, my dad and I were her main caregivers. I should say that my dad was her primary caregiver and I helped out a lot. At that time, my dad refused to place my mom in a facility or hire outside help to care for my mom at home.

When the relationships becomes strained

As a result, my relationship with my dad became very strained. I felt as though my dad began to see me only as a form of relief from his caregiving duties. I often spent several hours with my mom in order to give my dad a break.

If I was not able to do so, my dad didn't get a break at all. I hated that my dad relied solely on me, because I felt extremely guilty when I wasn't able to help out. Whenever I was able to give him a break, I would count down the minutes until he returned to the house, often feeling resentful if he stayed out for too long or didn't seem grateful enough when he returned home.

In addition, my dad and I weren't able to talk in front of my mom, because she would get mad at us for talking to each other. She would say that we were ignoring her or leaving her out, which wasn't true but that is how she felt since she couldn't contribute to the conversation.

My dad couldn't even talk to me on the phone in front of my mom because she would get upset and yell at him. Our entire relationship revolved around my mom's care, and when I could come over to give him a break.

Losing my dad to Alzheimer's too

Losing my mom to Alzheimer's was heartbreaking enough, but I began to feel as though I was losing my dad to it, too.

This went on for a few years until my sister and I were able to convince my dad to hire in-home care for my mom. We both expressed to him that we felt like we were losing him to Alzheimer's as well.

My mom's care had taken such a toll on him and our relationships with him. We just wanted to be able to talk to him or spend time with him outside of my mom's care.

Getting our relationship back

He reluctantly agreed to hiring outside help, but over time he saw it as a huge relief. Not only was he able to get out of the house to do things for himself, but he was also able to spend time with my sister and me again.

We were able to go out to lunch or go for a walk together. We were also able to have real heart-to-heart conversations and support each other. We still faced several challenges along the way, but I'm happy to say that we are closer now for all that we have been through together.

If your relationship with your caregiver parent is suffering right now, please know that it may only be for a season. There is hope for a better relationship down the road. My dad and I are living proof!

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