"Caring for Dad Is Destroying Us"

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His Turn

"I Don't Know What to Do"

"Last week Claire barked at me in a voice I've heard far too often in the past year," said Tom, 48, a public-relations executive with his own company. "I realize she's tense, so most of the time I let it pass. But this time she accused me of loving her father more than her. That hurt."

"I fell in love with Claire the first time I laid eyes on her -- and that love has never wavered. Until this crisis, we could be together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Now the air crackles with tension. The fact that she could question my feelings shows how far things have sunk. I've always told her that I consider her father my father, too, and that I'll do anything to ensure his comfort. But does she really believe I like having my father-in-law underfoot? That I like driving him around for hours to calm him down?

"I'm also shocked to hear that he's been abusive. Why didn't she tell me? Now I'm more reluctant than ever to leave her alone with him. But I don't know what to do. We hated having a caregiver live with us. Anyway, four have already quit on us. He was also kicked out of adult daycare. That leaves long-term care as our only option. But we hate to go that route. I know a lot about nursing homes, none of it good.

"There seems to be no way to stop her father from consuming our lives. The stress is unbelievable. We never have quiet time in the evenings. We're never alone. I'm a gourmet cook, but I can't remember the last time I made a nice dinner. Everything that once brought us joy has fallen by the wayside. The only bright spot is the way Kelsey has met the challenge. She even told us, 'I'm glad I finally got the chance to know Granddad.' (Luckily, he's lucid every once in a while.)

"I Worry That I'm Failing"

"I realize my temper makes matters worse. I just don't know how to calm myself down. I'm also worried about money for the first time. Claire had to quit working, and I've lost several accounts because of all my time off. We've run through my father-in-law's money and much of our savings, too. A nursing home would eat up everything. What's more, the doctors tell us he could live for a few months, a year -- or 10 years. We don't know when we'll get back to normal.

"I'm determined to make sure my father-in-law is comfortable for whatever time he has left on this earth. But I'm racked with doubt. Are we doing the right thing? Every day I worry that I'm failing."

Continued on page 4:  The Counselor's Turn


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