So worried about the effects of isolation on my parents

OonaghM

Registered User
Mar 21, 2020
14
Hi everyone. My 66 year old Dad is the full time carer for my Mum (75) who has Alzheimer's. She lives at home as thankfully she is still mobile and able to attend to her personal care, but she of course suffers from a great deal of confusion with time and place. I have long worried about my Dad and the fact that he never gets a break, but up until now they have both had stimulation and lifelines in the way of a weekly pub trip with their friends, and a weekly group they both attended- Mum gets some activity and Dad gets to chat to other carers. I also spend a full weekend with them once a month, and Mum seems to really be so happy when I'm with them.

Of course now this has all stopped because of Coronavirus, and Mum seems to already be lower in spirits and energy - Dad is feeling very depressed too. Mum seems to confuse him with her brother when they are on their own, but that never happens when I am with them- I guess having her daughter around helps set the context? Anyway I was asking for advice as I'm getting so worried about the potential impact of a prolonged period isolation on their mental health. All my instincts tell me to pack up my things and go to stay with them, either a few days a week or full time, and do my work from there if possible. But of course this might be very irresponsible if I bring infection to the house. Does anyone have any advice please, as I'm so worried. Thank you
 

Woo2

Registered User
Apr 30, 2019
1,729
South East
Hi @OonaghM , welcome to tp from me . That is such a personal decision that no one could tell you what to do, do your parent’s have any other underlying health issues ? How long could you stay if you moved in , could you do 12 weeks potentially ? I know what I would do, I would go with my initial gut instinct but you have to do what’s right for you too not just them,Take care .
 

OonaghM

Registered User
Mar 21, 2020
14
Thank you so much. Even just knowing someone is listening and has read this has made me feel better. Mercifully they don't have any underlying health conditions- I know there are people out there coping with so much worse. I will ponder a little further, but I'm glad you said you would follow your instinct too. A lot of my life decisions are made on gut instinct , rather than necessarily a logical appraisal of pros and cons, but sometimes you just get a feeling about something.
 

Woo2

Registered User
Apr 30, 2019
1,729
South East
Yes absolutely you do get that feeling , I have learnt now to go with them as they are rarely wrong . If they don’t have any serious health problems then that makes it a little easier I’m guessing . How will you feel if you go versus how will you feel if you don’t . There is always someone here reading but around teatime it’s usually a little quieter. There is lots of knowledge and support here so please keep posting . Good luck with whatever you decide to do , it won’t be wrong . :)
 

OonaghM

Registered User
Mar 21, 2020
14
Thanks so much Woo2. Your message has just made me have a little cry- but in a good way! I'm so glad to have found a forum to talk to other people in the same situation. Sending very best wishes to you.
 

Woo2

Registered User
Apr 30, 2019
1,729
South East
It’s a brilliant place , learn lots and get support too. Sorry about the tears , I don’t usually have that effect, well not happy tears anyway ! Thanks and best wishes to you too, look forward to seeing more of your posts , keep us updated as to how things go . Take care .
 

Shedrech

Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
9,062
Yorkshire
hello @OonaghM
a warm welcome to DTP
you must do what is best for you
I don't know your circumstances ... whether you have a family of your own at home and how they might feel about you being away for what may be quite some time
consider the set up in your parents' home ... can you be separate from them to work (and maybe when you first go, if you do, so you can monitor your own health for a few days?)
are there other ways you can be in touch through the day eg Skype regularly, so maybe you can take some time to see how they cope, to pick your moment to intervene
not trying to put you off, just consider practicalities as well as feelings
 

OonaghM

Registered User
Mar 21, 2020
14
Thank you Shedrech, this is very helpful advice too. I have so much whirling around my head right now, what I mustn't do is make a rash decision. The fact that the dilemma has brought me to this forum is really positive, whatever happens.
 

HanThompo

New member
Mar 28, 2020
1
Hi @OonaghM - firstly I hope you're keeping safe, well and sane (who knew we'd be saying that to people!) I was sent the link to this forum and having scanned through some of the questions and concerns I couldn't not reply to you because I'm literally in the same position.
My father is caring for my mum, both in their mid 70's but both physically extremely fit and well. One of many issues we have is that my mum still won't admit she has dementia and actively pushes away any help/support therefore my dad has to deal with her on his own on a daily basis because me and my partner live over 200 miles away. Unlike you they actually don't have a vast amount of social groups but given the circumstances everyone is in the same isolated state now aren't they.
One of their biggest issues is like so many, if not everyone on here, saying she doesn't understand what is going on and why she can't do the very limited things she can do now is very hard. Her small world revolves about charity shops, cafe lunches and trips to the supermarket so now it's so hard trying to explain why she can't do those things. When she does go to the shop she doesn't do the social distancing and my dad can't keep an eye on her all the time.
Again like so many people on her my dad is struggling with her boredom and frustration at being kept in which then turns into aggression and emotional breakdowns towards my dad so he's having to weigh up between going out and keeping her entertained and keeping her safe. She can't do puzzles, watch tv or play games anymore as her mind has really gone down hill so it's like having a toddler at home all the time.
Sorry this is so long but I just wanted to say I feel exactly the same and I have the same concerns about the distance between me and my folks and their safety and sanity during this crisis. There was a point where I was thinking of moving down to there too but I came to the conclusion I'd never forgive myself if I gave them the virus as lots of people are asymptomatic. It's totally your decision of course !
Anyway I hope if nothing else my reply shows you it's not just you in this situation and this crisis is a nightmare generally but even harder for anyone dealing with dementia due to the sufferers lack of understanding.
Sending a big hug to everyone on here - hang on in there. x
 

OonaghM

Registered User
Mar 21, 2020
14
Hi @OonaghM - firstly I hope you're keeping safe, well and sane (who knew we'd be saying that to people!) I was sent the link to this forum and having scanned through some of the questions and concerns I couldn't not reply to you because I'm literally in the same position.
My father is caring for my mum, both in their mid 70's but both physically extremely fit and well. One of many issues we have is that my mum still won't admit she has dementia and actively pushes away any help/support therefore my dad has to deal with her on his own on a daily basis because me and my partner live over 200 miles away. Unlike you they actually don't have a vast amount of social groups but given the circumstances everyone is in the same isolated state now aren't they.
One of their biggest issues is like so many, if not everyone on here, saying she doesn't understand what is going on and why she can't do the very limited things she can do now is very hard. Her small world revolves about charity shops, cafe lunches and trips to the supermarket so now it's so hard trying to explain why she can't do those things. When she does go to the shop she doesn't do the social distancing and my dad can't keep an eye on her all the time.
Again like so many people on her my dad is struggling with her boredom and frustration at being kept in which then turns into aggression and emotional breakdowns towards my dad so he's having to weigh up between going out and keeping her entertained and keeping her safe. She can't do puzzles, watch tv or play games anymore as her mind has really gone down hill so it's like having a toddler at home all the time.
Sorry this is so long but I just wanted to say I feel exactly the same and I have the same concerns about the distance between me and my folks and their safety and sanity during this crisis. There was a point where I was thinking of moving down to there too but I came to the conclusion I'd never forgive myself if I gave them the virus as lots of people are asymptomatic. It's totally your decision of course !
Anyway I hope if nothing else my reply shows you it's not just you in this situation and this crisis is a nightmare generally but even harder for anyone dealing with dementia due to the sufferers lack of understanding.
Sending a big hug to everyone on here - hang on in there. x
Dear Han, thanks so much for your lovely message and please forgive my slow reply. I hadn't figured out the alerts system until today- I'm a bit rubbish like that! But I really appreciate you taking the time to reply to me, sending solidarity and sharing your story. My heart goes out to you too. It's just so hard isn't it? My Mum is the same- no longer able to focus on books anymore when she used to love reading. Attention span and focus seems to be one of the things affected by this awful condition, so it really limits the kind of activities they can do. One of the few things that does keep my Mum's focus- for a little while anyway - is gardening, so I pray that that continues.

I also have the same situation with my Dad - he gets frustrated with her, then feels guilty, then depressed - and I think everything is just exaggerated at the moment when they can't go to cafes, groups etc. for a bit of a change. I know it won't be for a while yet, but I just cannot wait for this lockdown to end - for their sake, not my own.

But thank you once again for your words and your solidarity. Like you say, there is not an easy solution to any of this- but it is just nice to be in contact with people going through the same thing as you.

Keep visiting this forum! I don't get to look at it as often as I would like, but always get great comfort when I do. Sending love x
 

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