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  • Shared Experiences

    Ageing parents that are not coping with life

    My Mum has vasculardementia and has tried to take her own life one three occasions and I have both Mum and Dad in hospital, Dad with heart condition that is being treated but he cannot look after Mum at home anymore,a nursing facility is the only place for Mum to go so she stops trying to harm herself and takes the stress off my poor dad, who wouldn't admit that he cannot look after Mum anymore. I have 3 adult children that are stressed by all this and I have to work, whilst I have taken this week off to care for both of them, it has been extremely stressfull and whilst I suffer from depression and anxiety and panic attacks,they have been controlled by medication and seeing a professional pysi,who is overseas at the moment, I had a nervous breakdown 18yrs ago after my brother was shot in a police station and later had his life support turned off. I don't want to go back to that place again and Ive been told that the feelings of despair, numb, anxious, panic is because I am overwhelmed.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Grant McKell


    Grant McKell is a counselling psychologist working in Sydney's inner west with over ten years' experience. He founded HeadsUp Psychology in August, 2011. Having worked in … View Profile

    I would totally agree about why you are feeling the way you are- who wouldn't be overwhelmed? There are so many balls that you are juggling here, it's a total credit to you that you are coping as well as you are. I wouldn't fear that you are “going back to that place again”; there are so many reasons at the moment that you would be feeling all these stressful symptoms.

    When these situations occur, it is important to do things one thing at a time. You've obviously got a lot on, but take some time to make and maintain a list of things to do and by when they've got to be done. Cross them off the list as you go. This may help to lessen the sense that all these things need to be done. What is hard to remember as things pile up is that all the “things” have different deadlines. Make some time for yourself in this list to see friends or do something that is a break from all this “doing”.

    Remember that you ARE coping. Accept as normal the feelings that you are having and let them be what they are going to be. It can be easy to compound these normal reactions with a fear that you'll go back into a dark place, but this isn't necessarily true. These stresses are not permanent, they will pass. Hold on for that time.

    I'd be interested to know why your adult children are stressed. Is it because they have to share a load in caring for their grandparents or is it a grief response? The reason for their stress is important, only because it might inform  about what can be done in this regard.

    Since you are seeing a psychologist already, I'd highly recommend you talk to them about some of these issues and see if you can find that one, small glimmer of hope that can help you hang on until things improve. It might be tiny, but that little glimmer can make a big difference in helping us get through tough times.

    I hope this helps, let us know how things go.

  • 2



    HealthShare Member

    Hi kazsarge, you know what you said about not wanting to go back to that place again - well, I once heard that no-one ever goes back to exactly that same darkly emotional place again because since having that experience they have lived a little longer and usually learnt a whole heap more.  I'm sure that since being there you've developed coping strategies which have helped you so far and there's no reason why you can't learn some more coping strategies.  If what you're doing isn't helping then remember it's not YOU, it's not YOUR PARENTS it's the strategy that's wrong and endeavour to change the strategy and find one that does help.

  • Dr Nilakshi Weerasinghe

    Geriatrician (Aged Care Specialist)

    I am a consultant Geriatrician. I completed my training at Westmead, Prince of Wales, Blacktown and Norwest Hospitals. Currently I am employed as a Staff … View Profile

    Hi, I can totally understand the very stressful situation that you are in. I would like to offer some advice as to how your parents' situation could be helped.

    Vascular dementia can have different effects on people who are affected with it. Unlike Alzheimer's Disease it is not the memory impairment that is the most prodominant feature. Changes in mood, personality, behaviour, judgement, insight are some of the areas that are often involved. In fact these patients can be very apathetic, withdrawn and emotionally labile mimicking severe depression. Anti-depressant medications of SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) class are very effective in improving their mood and behaviour. Examples include Escitalopram, Cytalopram, Mirtazepine and sertraline. As the anti-depressants take a few weeks to take effects, sometimes the patients are given some anti-psychotic therapy as bridging specially if they experience psychoses such as delusions, hallucinations.

    Other than the medical therapy, social and psychological support for the affected patient and the family members play a key role in the management. It is advisable to make a referral through 'My Aged Care' for assessment in view of accessing services, allied health support such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dietician as well as social interactions, respite/ in-home flexible respite and residential care for future that are government subsidised. The referral can be made either online or by a phone call by anyone including; patient, family, friends and healthcare practitioners. Ther referrals could be made for both your parents.

    Other useful resources include; dementia Australia and DBMAS (Dementia Behaviour Management Avisory Service) which is a national free service funded by the Australian Government. These resources can provide a world of assistance including; counselling, carer support, family/carer education etc. There is a National Dementia helpline as well.

    Above treatment and support helps to keep our dementia patient out of hospitals and out of permanent residential care for a slong as possible.

    Last but not least it is of utmost importance that you look after your own health as you are the rock in your family for your parents as well as your children. You should not feel that it is your responsibility to solve all the problems because no one human can! Get as much help as you can. You need to be able to have some time for your self asn to spen time with your children therfore it is necessary to get services, respite for your parents sometimes to facilitate that. 

    I hope the above advice was helpful!



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