Giving dad a break


Registered User
Jul 13, 2007
Think I must be getting this disease - its taken me 10 minutes to remember how to post!
Well the consultant did meet us, although the CPN told us he wouldn't be involved and in the end and we were pleasantly surprised - dad even warmed to him because he listened and he didn't pronounce.

It seems mum's MMSE score has gone down rapidly in the last 5 weeks - from 18 to 8 last week. She is now talking gibberish most of the time, still having the occasional panics in which she bolts and needs to be off somewhere. It seems unbelievable that a few weeks ago she could still make a cup of tea, now you're more likely to get cold gravy granules. Today she even managed to peg a blouse on the line using her curlers!!

As the decline has been so sudden the consultant has reinstated the reminyl which the house doctor had stopped because he thought it was causing the bolting, although it will take her a while to get up to the full dose again. He has also stopped the halperidol which we all agreed seemed to have taken more of her personality away than the AD. He did prescribe olanzipine, which he told us carries a higher risk of stroke, but which he feels is justified given the behavioural issues. We'll see how she goes.

Anyway, sorry about the long-winded intro. The next challenge is to get dad to agree to take a break. We think he could do with a week away from mum and I think he knows he needs it, but after 57 years together and her being pretty much dependent on him for the last 5 years he doesn't know if he can bear to leave her. I get the "we're alright, you get on with your own life" routine, but I know most days she has his stress levels up to the limit.

I don't want to push him into anything and but we all know he needs a break. I would like to take him to Spain with us next month - he has always really enjoyed his holidays and when mum first got this illness he used to say that it was a real shame that they wouldn't be able to take all those nice holidays they'd talked about. I know that he's torn between wanting to come away and guilt at the thought of leaving my mum. I think in a way he's forgotten how to relax. Do you think a week is too long for the first break - should we try a weekend first? Can someone who is a full time carer actually relax in a weekend? Any thoughts on how I can make it easier for him. I can arrange for mum's sister to stay with her at home with the help of my brother and Crossroads, so there won't be any need for mum to go anywhere for the week at this stage.

Any thoughts appreciated.

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Sorry Steph, I know it`s not very helpful but I couldn`t take the responsibility of offering any advice.

The pros are that your mum would be well cared for, in her own home, by close family and outside help.

The cons are your father`s guilt at leaving her, and whether or not he`d be so concerned and worried about her he wouldn`t be able to relax.

Would it be possible to consider a short break in the UK, to start with, so your father would know he could get home quickly, in an emergency.


Registered User
Jun 26, 2006
sounds great!

Might be the first step in getting him to recognise that he needs respite. Her behaviour sound like MIL who went into a home 3 weeks ago : ut she lives alone.
My friends Dad died 3 months ago and Mum was left : they family realised then just how much Dad had taken on .. she had dementia ..he just wore himself out ..didnt let on just how much he needed to do to the family. Discharged himself from hospital early because of his worries ...Became increasingly run-down and was admitted with pneumonia and died on Easter Sunday. His wife died 3 months later ..the family were shocked at just how much he had taken on.
We have a lovely care manager who takes elderly relatives in hand and explains that we must care for the carers.
I woud do anything you can to take hime away from the situation for a while ..sounds like the perfect time to start planning some serious help. Mum will proably outlive him ..and he needs some qulaity of life.


Registered User
Jul 2, 2006
Newport, Gwent
Hi Steph

So very sorry that mum has had a rapid decline, it must be heartbreaking for you all.

Only you and your dad know whether a break would actually do your dad some good.

Might it be an idea initially to ask family to come for a whole day with mum, and take dad out for the day, which would mean he would may be feel more comfortable knowing he could return home should the need arise, and in any event he would be back home for the night. It could be that after several days out like this he might be prepared to leave mum overnight. But as I said at the onset, only you and dad will know if he would be happy with these arrangements.

Best wishes.


Registered User
Jul 13, 2007
I think a couple of overnight stays with us on his own is the best thing to try. I live in Shropshire so its only a couple of hours from South Wales. I don't know how he does it at the moment - mum spends the whole day moving things around the house. He had 6 policemen turn up last week as she'd been calling for help through the window to a man down the road while he went to the loo. The week before mum had been brought back home twice after scooting through the back gate when he was getting her lunch. He says "I'm used to it now - I don't let it get to me, just let it go over my head" and an hour later he looks like he could scream. The thing with this illness is that you can read all about what happens to people but when some of this wierd behaviour happens you just can't believe that this is your mum doing this - every day you think what is going to happen next.

I think a few trial runs would be a good idea before attempting a week in Spain - he joked when I mentioned it that he might not want to come back if he got too far away!



Registered User
Aug 3, 2006

Steph, You've got it right, take him with you for a break at regular intervels. Just for a meal, a day out. I take care of my wife 24/7 and have for many years. The thing I value most is a visit from our daughter, just for a chat. The only other member of our family we see is our son, but then I never know when that might be. One thing I've learned is to value the experience of a woman, for only a woman would know when to visit. Our son turns up when I'm either feeding or washing and changing Jean's pads.
The last day I've had off was six years ago when I went to our eldest grand son wedding. Jean was in a NH then, where I was spending every day. It took a while for it to dawn on me, why am I spending 8 to 9 hours a day caring in a NH, and not just for Jean, I'm paying them for it? Is it because I'm Irish or I'm so stressed out, with others having control and I can't think straight?
Our son and daughter wouldn't dream of helping because they know me as a capable person and want what's best for them. They have their own families and grandchildren to contend with, they need a break as well.
Let Dad know how much you care and love him, it will buoy him up no end. Padraig


Registered User
Jul 13, 2007
Thanks Padraig
I think the Welsh and Irish have a lot in common.:) and of course as girls, we love our dads! I'll keep you posted.


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Steph said:
I think a couple of overnight stays with us on his own is the best thing to try. I live in Shropshire so its only a couple of hours from South Wales.

I think a few trial runs would be a good idea before attempting a week in Spain - he joked when I mentioned it that he might not want to come back if he got too far away!

Hi Kay

I think you're doing the right thing. It's so lovely of you thinking of giving your dad a few breaks, you're a good, caring daughter.

I think the overnight stays are an excellent idea, to get your dad used to letting someone else take over. I wouldn't think about the trip to Spain until you're sure your dad is ready for it. It's a tempting idea, but he might find it hard to relax. A night with you, being made a fuss of, sounds like heaven to me!

Good luck,