Question: I'm the caregiver for both of my parents but recently had to put my mom in a nursing home. Now they are both fighting for my attention. How do I deal with this?
Dr. Amy: You have had a lot on your plate caring for both your parents. If you are like many caregivers, the decision to move your mom was not an easy one. Now that she is living separately from your father, everyone has to make the adjustment. It may be that the move has been most difficult for your mom, since she is getting used to a whole new living space.
I am not sure from your letter what health conditions you mom and dad have and what they can and cannot do, but here are some ideas for you to think about:
• You may not be able to meet everyone’s needs all the time so, as much as possible, it is important to set expectations and create a schedule. If your mom and dad know when they can count on seeing you (assuming dementia is not a factor) this will make things easier.
• Can you take your dad to visit your mom, so you spend time together as a family?
• Are your parents lonely or bored? Now is the time to think about ways to engage them. Are there activities your mom would enjoy at the nursing home? Helping her make new friends and become interested in social events will ease the pain of being separated from you.
• Can you arrange for someone to come to your home and help your dad while you visit your mom or take some time to yourself?
Caregiving is not a solo act. You need help so you can take time for yourself and recharge. I encourage you to join a caregiver support group. Also, think about who among your family, friends, and neighbours you can ask for help. Many hands make for light work.
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