3 Keys to Caring for Dad

May 14, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

“I always thought Dad would go first,” my friend Jenny shared after her mom died of pneumonia last year.  “It’s different, caring for your dad. I think I worry more about him not letting me know where he’s at, and I worry that he’s too isolated. ”

Caregiving dad  can be a different experience than caring for your mom. It’s part personality types and part typical “male behavior” differences.

“I’m close to my dad, but I think it”s easier in some ways, for a woman to take care of a woman–and I don’t want Dad to lose his sense of dignity–how do I strike that delicate balance and still meet Dad’s needs?” Jenny shared at a recent caregiving support group.

3 Keys to Caring for Dad:

  • Watch for clues. Most men aren’t going to come right out and tell you about their aches or pains or if they’re feeling a bit depressed. Listen and observe. Psychologists suggest that men open up easier while they’re doing something else–something with their hands. Clean out the garage together, or ask him to help you do a minor repair–then gently start a conversation.
  • Be matter of fact when it comes to handling delicate physical or emotional issues. Treat it like a procedure. Reassure him that cleaning his catheter or helping him in and out of the shower is just something that needs doing. Talk about something else the whole time–give him a mental “problem to solve,” such as asking him how to do a repair or if he’s into sports or politics, get him engaged in thought.
  • Encourage your dad to develop a social life–on his terms. You can’t take dad shopping to cheer him up like you would your mom.  Don’t be surprised if your dad becomes quite the socialite. Many seniors enjoy a second teenage hood. Some seniors meet daily for coffee, others enjoy playing poker or Mah Jong at the local rec center. Others are simply content putzing around home and running errands.

“I’m actually surprised how much I enjoy my Dad,” Jenny said at a recent caregiving support group. “it took him some time, but he’s adjusted to bachelorhood, and we talk about everything under the sun. In some ways, I feel like I’m getting to know my father for the first time.”

Entry filed under: caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: , , , , .

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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