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Caregiver accused of battery on his ailing wife

HOLIDAY — John McKim gave his ailing wife three sleeping pills, believing she would never wake up, and then planned to take his own life, authorities say.

She had "suffered enough pain and problems, and we can not take anymore any longer," he wrote in a note.

But according to authorities, Claire McKim was never in on that plan.

Now John McKim, who is 69 and retired, faces a charge of battery on a person older than 65.

His arrest report says he gave his wife Restoril, a prescription sleep aid on the morning of Nov. 3 at their home on Hearthstone Court in Gulf Trace.

He also laid out their burial request.

After Claire McKim, 69, went to sleep, the report says, McKim planned to stab himself to death.

But he changed his mind and called his wife's doctor.

He told the doctor and a stepson that he was trying to kill his wife, the report says. The Sheriff's Office then set up a phone call between McKim and the stepson that verified as much.

After Claire McKim woke up, she told a detective she didn't know her husband wanted her to die. And she said she doesn't want to die.

A neighbor in Gulf Trace said Claire McKim suffered a stroke not long after the couple bought their house in 2005. John McKim became her primary caregiver, though physical therapists and other aides frequently visited the house.

Beverly Burton is the senior resource director for the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas. She said exhaustion and burnout are common for people caring for ailing loved ones.

That can include lack of sleep or physical fatigue from lifting the person.

"Then there's also the emotional component to it," she said, "that makes caregiving a loving but difficult job."

Local resources are available, such as respite services to give the caregiver a break. But funding for such programs is always limited and caregivers are encouraged to tap into their own networks of support, Burton said.

Claire McKim told the detective she would never harm herself or allow anyone else to, the report says. She's afraid of her husband and doesn't want any contact with him.

John McKim was hospitalized under the Baker Act after the incident because of his threat to harm himself, sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said.

He was arrested Tuesday and is being held at the county jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.

He could have been charged with attempted murder, Doll said, but wasn't because he sought help for his wife.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Fast facts

Help for caregivers

Area Agency on Aging administers state and federal resources to help older adults. The Web site includes a handbook for caregivers. Visit agingcarefl.org or call 1-800-96-ELDER.

Community Aging and Retirement Services, or CARES, provides home care, senior activities and adult day services locally. Visit caresfl.org or call (727) 862-9291 in west Pasco and (352) 523-1500 in east Pasco.

Caregiver accused of battery on his ailing wife 11/12/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 14, 2008 8:45pm]
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