Depression and Caregiving

ketzela
dark-night_w725_h544(Editor's Note: We welcome a new member of our blogging team, Ketzela, who cares for her dad. You can connect with her at her profie: @abackerson.)

I was diagnosed over ten years ago with depression. In all honesty I probably have had depression for close to 35 years. In my teens, I considered suicide and again in college. Ten years ago, I started with treatment. I am on medication and go for therapy twice a week.

My 88-year-old dad has Parkinson's and diabetic neuropathy. He had bypass surgery 17 years ago. He lived in New Jersey and three years ago we moved him near us (my spouse and I) and into an assisted living facility. A year ago we moved him into a nursing home because of how many falls he was having. Since we moved him here, I visit with him six days a week for about two hours a visit. I also make and attend all his doctor appointments and take care of his bills. I purchase various personal items for him. I have a POA for him but since he is quite capable of making decisions I do not use it at this time.

I have an older brother who lives out of town and is useless.

Over the past three years, Dad has declined. The most significant is going from walking with a cane to using a wheelchair for most of his transportation. He does walk with a walker but it depends if he is having a good day or not.

Recently there have been some cognitive changes.

Though taking care of my dad impacts my depression there are a few other factors:

--My spouse had bypass surgery this past fall.

--My cousin  MB (who is like a brother to me) was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer stage 4 in October 2012.

--My daughter who lives overseas has been diagnosed with one neurologic disorder and her doctors believe  she has an underlying autoimmune disease that is causing other neurologic symptoms.

--My  aunt (dad's older sister who 91 and my MB's mom) is declining.

--My  depression has been sinking fast and my therapist recently suggested that I visit Dad every other day to give myself a break but I am reluctant to do so.

Dad tends to be a loner by nature. He has no friends here  and I am his only local family. The  nursing home is good. Dad likes a structured  routine and if it is disrupted he becomes quite aggravated and frustrated. This unfortunately happens more then I would like to count. Often it is that someone has gotten him up late in the morning. He needs help getting out of bed so he can take his meds and let them kick in. If he starts the day like this it will be a bad day. Other days there is nothing to eat as he is a picky eater. Rarely does he have something positive to say. Often I try to visit during meals to try to lessen the  pressure to make conversation.

All Dad wants is to go to sleep and not wake up. He will not take medication for depression.

His world consists of:

--doctor appointments

--going to meals

--my visits

--watching TV

--taking his meds

--speaking with his sisters and my brother

He rarely participates in any activities. He does complain of being tired  and does sleep a large part of the day.

I think I will stop here for now.  I would appreciate support and ideas of coping with my depression. I walk my dog daily, go to yoga twice a week and read lots of books. When it is nice I try to spend time outside. But most days I would rather stay  in bed and pull the covers over my head.

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