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Keeping parents together?


Question: My mom is in the fourth stage of Alzheimer's. My dad is in a nursing home because I am not able to care for him anymore. I can’t pick him up and change him because I was in a bad car wreck in December. My parents have been together 62 years and I do not want them to be apart. But my mom says she doesn't want to go to a nursing home no matter what. I don’t want her to be away from my dad and at the same time, if I put her in the home with dad I am scared she will hate me and say I just gave up on them. On top of all this, seeing her slip away from me is killing me and I just don’t know what to do!

I have no help. It’s just me, and on top of this my husband is in the second stage of Alzheimer's. I’m 44 years old and my health is nothing like it used to be. But I feel such guilt because of all of this—like I am turning my back on my parents! I know putting her with my dad is the right thing but what she keeps telling me about not wanting to go has me so torn apart.

Dr. Amy: Reading the letters people send me—and yours is a perfect example—I am constantly amazed at just how much trouble one person can face and still keep going. Your strength and the love you clearly have for your parents are inspiring.  Since both your mother and your husband suffer from Alzheimer’s, I think you might find the information and videos developed by Home Instead helpful. You can check these out at: Just click on the Alzheimer's disease tab at the top of the page.  They have also developed Both are excellent resources.  You can listen to other people in your situation and learn more about dementia from the experts. You can also get helpful tips and articles delivered right to your inbox.

Wanting to keep your parents together is a lovely sentiment. But what does each of your parents feel about living apart? Is it possible this is OK for them? I encourage you to respect your mother’s feelings. The challenge may be in arranging some support so that you are not doing everything yourself. You really need a helping hand in putting together a care plan. A caregiving agency like Home Instead can visit you and outline the range of services they can offer. A geriatric care manager is also an excellent resource. They know all about available programs. If cost is an issue, you can also call the department of Adult Services and see if your mother qualifies for any programs.

Have faith in yourself and in your judgement. You will make the right decision—one that balances the needs of everyone in your family, including you.

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