Mum & Dad: no self-care

Dear Nurse Kris;

My mum needs help. She is actually my husband’s mother but we all call her 'Mum'. She lives with ‘Dad' in a semi-rural area of Southern BC in a mobile home park. She is a heavy smoker and until Dad started watering down her wine, was a heavy daily drinker as well. We are wondering if she has dementia because in the last couple of years she has been getting really confused and angry at Dad. She gets so turned around that she doesn't recognize Dad sometimes on a daily basis and screams at him to get out of the house or she'll call the cops. She does this several times or more on the days she’s confused. She hasn't been to a doctor in 25 years so we don't even know if anything is wrong with her; she refuses to go and Dad doesn't want to take a screaming woman into a doctors' clinic because he doesn't think his doctor will see her in this state. We worry about her falling all the time because she's unsteady on her feet. Her body odour is getting bad because she is too afraid to take a bath as she might fall. To top it off, my husband and I have been transferred to another part of the country and they have no other family or friends, being alienated for years by her behavior. They don't want to ever be separated and refuse to go into a care home right now. We have two months to get things straightened out before we go. I just have no idea what to do.


Sam from Somewhere South

Dear Sam;


First of all, the fire safety risk here is alarming. One of the big, red flags I see here first is the safety issue of Mum smoking, drinking and not being cognitively aware of things. This behaviour puts everyone at risk of fire.

The second big, red flag I see is Dad's caregiver fatigue. Fatigued caregivers can make poor decisions and can suffer ill health from this. It would be devastating should Dad suffer an unexpected health setback; then Mum would be institutionalized without Dad there to care for her. Dad needs time out of the house. This is called 'respite'. He should use this time to run personal errands or just go rest somewhere (your place?). Call a Home Care agency; they should be able to send a nurse by to assess the situation and can put a knowledgeable caregiver who is trained in Dementia to stay with Mum while dad has respite hours away.

Next, call your local health authority Community Care office. They are generally stretched to the limit so it may take a few days to get your call returned. Ask for the Community Care Nurse to come out to do an Assessment. It is through this assessment that your Mum and Dad may be eligible to receive low or no cost services from the Health Authority. They will find a way to get a medical assessment done on Mum. Expect all of this to take a few weeks to fall into place. In the meantime, you can fall back on your care agency for relief.

The third big, red flag is that Mum's health issues which are partially caused by poor hygiene, need addressing by her being properly bathed.

Your Dad is trying hard but he is unable to force care on her. It's time for health authority and doctors to get involved.

I hope for the best for all of you.

Nurse Kris

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About the Author

Kris Stewart is the owner, CEO and Clinical Director of Advanced Home Care Solutions Inc, based in Kelowna. She is a well-known, well respected Registered Nurse with advanced nursing and business degrees; she is also an inveterate health care entrepreneur, establishing health care enterprises in Canada and the USA. She is a sought after public speaker on health care and seniors matters, as well as workplace dynamics, and has won several national awards for her work in health care. She is a distinguished Alumni of Thompson Rivers University. Her professional mandate is to ensure that private health care options remain accessible and affordable for all.

Kris can be reached at:  [email protected]

Advanced Home Care Solutions:  http://www.advancedhomecaresolutions.com/about-kris-stewart


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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