Home Australia Dear Caroline, My father has dementia and no longer recognizes me or my mother, his wife. How can I continue to be strong for my family when I’m falling apart inside?

Dear Caroline, My father has dementia and no longer recognizes me or my mother, his wife. How can I continue to be strong for my family when I’m falling apart inside?

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 Dear Caroline, My father has dementia and no longer recognizes me or my mother, his wife. How can I continue to be strong for my family when I'm falling apart inside?

q My father has dementia and before he went into a nursing home I was his primary caregiver. It is tragic to see this man, once the most important character, weakened in both body and mind by illness. I have siblings, but the responsibility of caring for him fell squarely on my shoulders and while he was home I was able to keep going for him, although I had to balance it with work and taking care of my children.

Normally I’m a reasonably happy person, but since he came into the house I’m suffering a lot and I’ve lost my spark. Now dad He no longer recognizes me or my mother, his wife. It is devastating not only for me but also for my children who are seven and 13 years old.

They attend counseling sessions to help. They accept the pain of losing the person who was once their grandfather, which breaks me even more. I have never felt so isolated and alone. How can I stay strong not only for myself but also for my family, when I am falling apart inside?

TO I can hear your desperation loud and clear. I’m sure you’re aware of the Alzheimer’s Society’s recent campaign highlighting how losing someone this way is like mourning their death over and over again. It has been controversial for being too blunt, but I think it resonates with many who have cared for someone with this devastating disease.

I’ve talked to people who say that when their parents died they were so relieved that it was over because their loved one’s dementia had even robbed them of the final grieving process. So first of all, I can say that you are not alone, even if you feel desperately alone.

You are exhausted and probably depressed. Unfortunately, it is often true that women bear the brunt of caring for family members. Taking care of your father before he moved into a house (along with your other commitments) has worn you out. Your children may find it too distressing to visit their grandfather now, and it may be better for them to remember him as he was.

But I think it is also necessary to take a step back. Your dad is safe, and since he no longer recognizes you, you might consider taking a few weeks off visiting too. Focus on spending quality time with your children: take them out on fun days, help them think about other things.

Go out with your mother too. Be sure to take care of yourself with exercise, fresh air, and proper nutrition. In other words, reset. As difficult as it may be, try not to show your distress to your children.

But no one can be strong all the time, so cry all you want when you need to, but don’t be alone. Call a friend or seek support from others and talk until you feel better (alzheimers.org.uk; 0333 150 3456). Also consult your GP about depression.

My daughter blames me for her breakup

q I think I may have really ruined things with my daughter. She is 33 years old and for six years she has been in a relationship with a man who does not commit to marrying. She’s desperate to have children, but he kept saying he wasn’t ready: she’s 40 years old.

So I told her to give him an ultimatum: that if he didn’t agree to marry her within a year, she would have to end the relationship. However, when she followed my advice, he left her, saying that I didn’t want to be forced to a corner.

That was three months ago and my daughter has been distraught, sobbing on the phone that it’s my fault and yes. She hadn’t said anything, they would still be together.r.

TO Yes, if she hadn’t said anything, they might still be together, and her daughter might see another three or four years go by, still wanting to get married and still wanting to have children.

Unfortunately, I hope everyone except his daughter can see that this relationship was not the right one. Not being willing to commit after six years is not being backed into a corner. If he doesn’t feel ready to have kids at 40, then he’ll probably never want them, but he didn’t have the courage to tell her directly and kept her holding on.

Right now, your daughter is grieving the loss of her relationship (six years is a long time) and scared by the uncertainties of the future. She will recover from it, but it will take her time to realize that he wasn’t right for her, so he continues to listen to her and be there for her.

Gently remind her that he may never have felt ready to be a father and that she deserves someone who loves her enough to want a future together.

Tell us your secrets! Do you have a sexual or relationship story that you would like to reveal anonymously in an upcoming issue of YOU? Email editor@you.co.uk and share your love life confessions with us in the strictest confidence.

If you have any problems, please write to Caroline West-Meads at YOU, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email c.west-meads@mailonsunday.co.uk. You can follow Caroline on X/Twitter. @Ask_Caroline_ Caroline reads all your letters but regrets that she cannot respond to them personally.

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