A week before Christmas I dropped by to see my father and give him the weekly update on family.  He seemed mildly interested but a little distant.  I asked him if he would like anything for Christmas like pajamas, cologne, or a certain dessert and he just said…”No…. Nothing I want.”  I told him I was excited to be bringing him some food from our Christmas spread this year.  We had decided to change it up and do a Louisiana style seafood boil. He again said, “No…. Don’t worry about bringing me anything”. He even turned down pecan pie, which is a FIRST for him.

Ever since his heart attack back in October I have felt my father pulling away from me.  In November he went in for a few days with a mild case of pneumonia too. Sometimes I feel that he is pulling away since he is not sure how much longer he will be around….. Either way it’s not easy.  My attempts at joking around with him and taking him on walks outside have even been met with little feedback. I even bought him a nicer coccyx seat cushion a few weeks ago but that just has prevented him from complaining about being in a wheelchair as much during the day.

So what do you do when your elderly parent seems to have lost their hope and joy in the small things in life? I must tell you…. I do not even know.  I have read a few articles that clearly state it is common at this stage of life but their must be more I can do.   It takes me about 30 minutes to drive out to see him and when you start feeling like your visit is unwanted it makes it harder to get in the car once a week and visit anyway.  I know I will continue to see him because it’s the right thing to do.  I will do my best to be positive and bring him good news about his grandchildren.


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8 Responses to “When your parents become apathetic in the Nursing Home”

  1. Susan Evans Says:

    Hope is one of the most important things in life to help keep us alive. (The others are faith and love.) When you lose hope, it’s almost like you’re already dead. There was a time when I was a teenager that I lost hope, and I was just drifting. For me personally, my faith in God is what turned me around and gave me joy to live again.

  2. Vicki Says:

    My parents are still living at home on their own but needing a lot more help and my sisters, brother and I talk about challenges such as yours. Wish I had more to offer.. I have had friends with these same challenges and you are right that there does seem to be good material out there to help.. books, resources, people with experience. I would seek out help for suggestions. #blogboost

  3. Lori @ Encourage Your Spouse Says:

    First – I need to say that I’m not an expert, nor do I have any experience in this. My heart goes out to you – it really does. Your discouragement and pain are so evident.

    One thing that struck me as I read your article, is that it seems like you’re giving/providing for your Dad when you visit. (offer of gifts, food, joking, time spent etc.).

    Have you tried ASKING for something from your Dad? We all need to feel “needed” regardless of physical state or age. Could you ask him for advice on issues – because he has the advantage of many years of experience?

    Just a thought – I don’t know the whole situation. It’s just a perspective about human nature – we all need to feel respected and valued.

    ps – the book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman might give you some insight into how your Dad would best feel “loved”…

  4. Wendy Bottrell Says:

    I can feel your frustration! I have been the only care giver to my ailing mother for the past 8 years. 2 and a bit years ago she moved into a home as a result of my caregiver burnout! Over the past 2 and a bit years I have seen the very same thing from my mother that you are experiencing now.
    It is my feeling that this is my time just to be with my mother. It is a sad time as I see her deteriorate however it is also a time to sit when she is strong enough and just enjoy that time together. Time to chat, time to ask her questions that I may not know about her life, just to enjoy or at least try to find some peace that we have this connection now. I have had the chance over the past many months to learn many things from my mother’s childhood that I never knew! We have been able to laugh, chuckle with no pressure, stress.
    Sometimes we just go down to the common area and have a Hot Chocolate and watch the people. I feel this is what this time is for. Connect and truly enjoy without having to Do anything other that just be with them.
    Best Regards, Wendy {Ultimate Blog Challenge} #blogboost

  5. Denys Kelley Says:

    My dad is in an alzheimer’s nursing home and just like you I drive about an hour every week to see him. He does not know who we are (I take my mom with me) but I enjoy having the time to see him. It’s always an adventure.
    It was my mom that I had to work with when dad was first in the nursing home. She needed a reason to keep on going. It was rough. I did talk with her doctor and we did seek help. There are support groups and counselors that are great.
    I also found that having a sense of humor helps a lot. Hang in there and treasure the time that you have with your dad.

  6. Debbie Says:

    UBC This may be the dark night of the soul. You are right to keep visiting him. He enjoys your visits but may not know how to show it any more. Just keep trying. Did he like books and/or praying when he was younger. Do those things with him, even if it looks like he is not responding. This will probe to him that you love him.

  7. Laura Says:

    This happens when people no longer feel useful. When you do not have a purpose in life, there is no reason to go on living. He needs a task, with meaning. Something that matters to another human being. Something that makes someone DEPEND on him for something they need, in a way that he can meet.

  8. diabetic77 Says:

    When I wrote this article it was on a rough day.
    ~Laura, I think you hit the nail dead on. When you don’t feel useful you don’t feel like anybody should spend time on you since you no longer bring value to the world. I need to help him feel useful.
    ~Debbie, I will keep seeing him …. no doubt he knows I love him
    ~Denys, I agree about the sense of humor. On his good days I joke with him wuite a bit and get many smiles out of him. This was not one of those days. Today he listed to me but didn’t seem that interested but that’s OK. I will keep visiting him AND always hug and kiss his forehead when I leave.
    ~Wendy – WOW, we are really on the same page here. Our circumstances are very similar. I have had a chance to really get close to him over the last 6 years while I started taking care of him more and more. He has definately shared stories with me about his past that he has never shared with his other 3 children. I know when the end of his life comes that I will not have regrets about the time we spent together. I can’t say the same for his other 3 kids.
    ~Lori, good ideas
    ~Susan, hope is what keeps us going when it gets tough.

    Thanks for all your comments. You ladies are really kind.

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