Author Topic: Question for those with elderly parents . . .  (Read 2120 times)

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jpcher

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Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« on: December 25, 2013, 09:49:31 PM »
I had a WAKE UP! This is REAL LIFE! type of conversation with my father today.

I'm wondering how you felt/dealt with the fact that you might someday have to be a caretaker for your parents.


Both of my parents will be 80 next year. They are in relatively good health with age-related problems. They live on a "farm" in a remote area . . . they moved there 20 years ago when they retired. They rent their land to local farmers, but there is still considerable property that they take care of themselves (garden, etc.) They are very active with the community and each belong to their own groups, etc.

My mom just had a hip replacement and 6 weeks after the surgery she's thrilled that she was able to go out cross country skiing yesterday. She's looking forward to a knee replacement surgery coming up early next year. She is very sharp of mind.

My father, on the other hand, is deteriorating more quickly. He has eye problems (which are being worked on) but he can't read any more. He can't see the music sheets so he can't play his trumpet because he can't remember how to play anything without reading the music . . . he admits that his mind is also going away.


Anywhoo . . . my father doesn't see himself as a long term resident of this world anymore and gently asked me if I would maybe consider an early retirement so that I could move up to the farm and take care of my mother.* "She can't live here alone" he said.

My father also asked about the possibility of my mother living with me in my home. I have a two bedroom house. Even though, with some alterations the basement can be converted, I do not think that my mother would be comfortable here simply because it won't be her home.

I told my father that I never thought of this before. He said "Please. Start thinking."


Soooo -- to those with elderly parents, how did you deal with this type of situation once you became aware that it was your turn to take care of them?





*After going through some paper work, they are (surprise!) pretty well off so an early retirement wouldn't be a detriment to me financially . . . my father explained that I would be well paid as a caretaker.  :-\


gramma dishes

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2013, 10:15:57 PM »
To give him peace of mind, you can assure your father quite truthfully that if he passes away first, you will see to it that Mom is well cared for.

But he should NOT be 'making arrangements' for her!  She sounds like she'll be just fine and will let you know what she wants to do and what she needs when the time comes.  She is the only one who should be consulted about where she lives, who lives with her, and so on.

Lindee

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2013, 10:32:05 PM »
The same argument would apply to you moving there. It won't be "your" home or your choice of location and lifestyle. Your parents have chosen to live in a remote location with lots of land to take care of because that is how they want to live but how about you?  Is this your idea of the lifestyle you would want?  Your father shouldn't be trying to force you to choose it too.

Whatever happens, and it may not play out as your father fears, there will be many options for the care of any surviving parent and between you I'm sure you will decide on what works for you both without you having to give up your life.

Oh Joy

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2013, 10:48:53 PM »
Thank you for taking this on...they've raised a good daughter.

One important thing is to acknowledge their underlying value before addressing the logistics.  For example, that he's always been responsible for making sure everyone's safe and wants to continue to do so.  Then talk about being there for Mom after he's gone.  KWIM?

Best wishes on your family's continuing journey.

doodlemor

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2013, 10:55:06 PM »
When my mother could no longer care for herself properly she moved to our state from Florida.  She was able to rent a lovely small apartment within site distance of our home.  [Our house would not have been a suitable long term residence for her for various reasons.]  This apartment would have been ideal if she had had enough memory left to participate in community activities. 

By the time she moved to our town her Alzheimer's embarrassed her because she could not remember names of people, and so forth.  She mainly stayed at her apartment with her cat, or we brought her over for visits.  This was a very difficult time for all of us, because our children were becoming adults during the same years, and we were torn in two directions.  My DH and I also both had hectic jobs, too.

We finally had to put her into a nursing home on a closed wing, after she called the local police and reported her hallucinations as real.  That was a very sad time.  I was shocked though, to realize that I was so very relieved not to have to deal with her care any more.  I hadn't realized how much time I had been spending cooking for her, taking her to appointments, sorting her pills, etc.  Just knowing that mom was safe, and that she was getting good meals and proper medications lifted a burden that I hadn't realized that I had.

I would advise against moving to an isolated area and being your mother's caretaker.  It is an incredibly hard job, and unfortunately is all down hill.  I think that you can tell your dad that you will always watch over her, and make sure that she is OK.  I think that your dad is concerned about your mom, but doesn't understand how difficult this big disruption could be for you.

Your DD's still need your love and attention, too, even though they are young adults.  If you became your mother's caretaker the duties might detract from the attention you would want to give to your girls.  In a few more years there may be grandchildren to love and cherish, also.

I bet that your mother is a very practical person, and has thought of different possibilities that could happen.  I think that you should ask her what she would like to do, if dad passes away and she finds the present home to be too much for her.  Maybe there are assisted living places in your area, where your mother would have some independence with a little apartment, but still be near to you.




Elfmama

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2013, 10:58:09 PM »
My parents always said that they were not going to move in with any of their kids and be a burden.  They lived in their own home until a couple of years ago, then decided that it was time to move to a retirement home near my sister.  Sister is retired herself, and while she takes them to some doctor visits and shopping and dinner once a week or so, she's not unduly burdened.

I think in large part it was because both of them had elderly grandparents in the home when they were kids, and there was a lot of tension.  Mom described her Grandfather R as "a mean old [person of illegitimate birth]" and she hated him for his verbal and physical abuse of her grandmother. 

ETA to say I agree with doodlemor.  Talk to your Mom, and ask her what HER plans are.  I'm sure that she has made some, since your father's deterioration is surely even more evident to her than it is to you. 

Because DH was in a hazardous occupation for the first decade of our married life, I've always made tentative plans about what I'd do in case he died or became incapacitated.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2013, 11:05:12 PM by Elfmama »
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AmethystAnne

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2013, 11:01:14 PM »
I have no idea about your dilemma with you moving there or your Mom moving to you, in the event of your Dad's passing. (Ugh, hate the thoughts of that!)

Anyway, about your Dad not being able to see the music, could you take the music sheets to a Staples or Kinkos type of place and have it enlarged? My Mom(age 84) has glaucoma in one eye, and something else in the other eye. When she is on her computer, she changed the font size so that she can read what's on the monitor screen. I was about 55 when I started taking crochet patterns to Staples to enlarge too-small printed patterns.

Nuala

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2013, 12:50:48 AM »
My dad moved in with us after he was diagnosed with cancer.

He had difficulty climbing stairs, so we converted the dining room into a bedroom for him. Unfortunately, our only full bath was upstairs, so he still had to go up and down every few days, with my help. Later, I had to have a second person present to help with the stairs. We added rails outside the tub and put in a shower bench.

Fortunately, we have a half bath on the first floor. We added a raised toilet seat, which worked for a few months. Then we had to put the bucket in the seat and move it into the dining room, as he couldn't walk that far.

I slept on the sofa in the living room every night, as I was afraid I wouldn't hear him if he needed me. He tried to do things on his own, and fell more than once.

We have steps at every darn entry of our house, so it was a challenge getting him out for doctor visits. The front stair were somewhat easier for him, so I backed my car up the lawn to the steps. Once the snow fell, I couldn't do that any more.

We had a lot of visitors: nurses, paramedics, physical therapists, and aides.

So, you will want a space that works for you and your mother. One in which her needs can be met on one floor. You don't want to be too secluded. There is a lot of support available, but you need to be accessible. When you have to run out to the store, you don't want to leave her alone for long. Visiting nurses need to be able to get to your house easily. And paramedics need to be able to find your house.

Taking care of my father was a gift, but it was very challenging. If I'd had more time and money, I would have changed a lot of things about my house. I know I won't be able to stay here in my old age.


Mel the Redcap

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2013, 03:18:44 AM »
If the time comes when your mother and/or father need a carer living with them in order to stay in their current home, well, if they can afford to pay you to live in then they can afford to pay a professional. Caring for the elderly is hard, often physically demanding, requires skills you may not have or wish to acquire, and emotionally draining. When it's done by a family member, it's very easy for the line between what is and isn't reasonable to blur and for both sides to feel hard done by and unappreciated.

Your dad seems to envision himself being looked after by your mother until he passes, and then you immediately moving in to look after her - but if she's doing well enough to be his carer, why will she need you? For company? You can call and visit often. For minor household and gardening help? She can hire a weekly cleaner or handyman if she wants to. Transport? Taxis exist, and you can offer to regularly visit, take her out, help with errands. More intimate and extensive care as she continues to age? Believe me, you really want a professional for most of that. Just helping someone who's shaky on their feet and a bit frail from the bed to a chair can injure both of you if you haven't learned how to do it right.

If you decide, after looking into all the pros and cons and asking your mother what SHE wants, that you want to do this and can handle it, more power to you! Go to it, and do it well! But if you're even a bit unsure, don't. It's far too easy to go wrong.
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Winterlight

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2013, 08:21:09 AM »
My dad is making his own plans. He does not want to move in with my brother or me- both of us live far away and he's been in that town for 40+ years. He's looking at a local retirement community since he has friends there.
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lkdrymom

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2013, 09:19:51 AM »
When I was in college my grandmother had a series of mini strokes and moved in with us for a time.  It was the most miserable life draining experience. Caring for her made my parents sick.  We were lucky it was temporary and she recoved well enough to go back to her home. She really wanted my father to move in with her, sleep on the couch and do as she commanded. She eventually ended up in a care facility.

There are so many factors involved before you make such a decision. Quite frankly this is not your father's decision to make. You need to talk to your mom. And you need to come to a conclusion that works for both of you. And you never know, your father could outlive your mother. Would he still expect you to move in with him?  My dad was sickly all his life, yet my mom died first.  He is now 86 and lives on his own. He has good days and not so sharp days. I help him when I can. Take him for big grocery shopping trips. Take him to doctors other than his GP. He has decided to give up his car which will put more of a burden on me but I really don't like the idea of him driving so the car needs to go. He can walk to places if he needs milk and bread.

Caring for an elderly relative is extremely demanding. My advice would be to NOT move in with your mom, find another way.

camlan

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2013, 10:38:40 AM »
1. If you have siblings or other family members who would/should be helping out when your parents become infirm, start talking to them now. Get an idea of what they feel they can do--financial help, time, visits, etc.

2. Plan for in-home help for your mother to care for your father as he gets older/more infirm. I've seen more than one spouse who was physically in good shape  become completely worn down in caring for an infirm spouse. Waking in the night to check that he hasn't wandered off, dealing with constant demands/questions, trying to find time to run errands without having to take the spouse along, but also having the spouse safe at home--it's exhausting. Caregivers need respite and time to take care of their own health and needs.

My aunt broke her hip trying to help her husband up the stairs--leading to a revelation that both Aunt and Uncle had been hiding the true state of affairs from their kids. Uncle had Alzheimer's and was wandering away from the house, and Aunt was exhausted trying to keep him safe.

So be grateful that your father is looking ahead. Not all parents are that open with their children.

3. You need to talk to your mother and find out how she sees her future. She may already have a sort of plan in the back of her head. But you need to discuss your father's growing dependency and how to cope with that, what her future would be like after he goes, and what she'd like to do.

Does she want to stay more or less where she is, but maybe in an accessible apartment somewhere? Move closer to you? What type of home/facility would she be comfortable in? What if her health/mobility/mind starts to fail?

And for all your father's worry, which was the same as my dad's, my mother died first. And Dad was left dealing with all the housework, which he could do but not very well, cooking three meals a day and a host of health issues. Because he had thought he would die first, he'd planned to make Mom financially secure and safe, but hadn't given a single thought to how he might deal without her. There were a rocky few years there, until he found a new path for himself.
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LadyL

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2013, 11:34:53 AM »
When my GMIL was diagnosed with Alzheimer's I spent a lot of time on caregiver message boards looking for resources to share with LordL and his family. What I learned is that becoming a full time caregiver for a relative is nearly as big a decision as deciding to have children. It probably won't last 18 years, but in terms of the scope of how it changes your life, caring for an ailing elderly person is as or more demanding as caring for a newborn or toddler. Most people doing it are middle aged or older, so you don't have the energy a new parent usually has; they only get sicker/weaker/more confused, instead of growing and improving like a child, and the ultimate end point of the process is them passing away. Add to that all the emotional baggage of parenting your parents, possibly strained relationship dynamics, and the complex medical situations that can arise and it is NOT to be taken lightly or minimized as "what family does for each other."

I know that I could never do it and that for my family, the more compassionate option would be the best quality assisted living or nursing home close enough for me to visit frequently.

jpcher

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2013, 09:31:30 PM »
Thank you all for your responses. This is something that I haven't thought seriously about before so I'm truly in a quandary as to what to do next. Your posts are helping me learn from your experiences, so please keep them coming.

After the conversation with my father, I got the feeling that he wanted someone to be with my mother in the same way that he was . . . not so much for physical care but more like if there were any plumbing problems, or something broke down type of thing. They are old-schooled in the manner where certain things are a "man's" job and he wouldn't dream of his wife handling these types of things. What if the car needs an oil change? That's his job. Just like he wouldn't ever throw a dinner party or even think of cleaning the house or doing laundry. That's her job. KWIM?

I just think that my father can't/won't see my mother being successful living alone. I'm putting your suggestions of a handyman etc. into my bag of wisdom. Thanks!


I agree with everybody, at this point I should talk to my mother and find out how she feels.




Anyway, about your Dad not being able to see the music, could you take the music sheets to a Staples or Kinkos type of place and have it enlarged? My Mom(age 84) has glaucoma in one eye, and something else in the other eye. When she is on her computer, she changed the font size so that she can read what's on the monitor screen. I was about 55 when I started taking crochet patterns to Staples to enlarge too-small printed patterns.

Thanks, AmethystAnne. These suggestions have been tried. Dad has several things going on with his eyes and one can't be corrected until the others are. He feels that once his eyesight is gone, there's no reason to go on living. :'(

Elfmama

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Re: Question for those with elderly parents . . .
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2013, 10:47:22 PM »
After the conversation with my father, I got the feeling that he wanted someone to be with my mother in the same way that he was . . . not so much for physical care but more like if there were any plumbing problems, or something broke down type of thing. They are old-schooled in the manner where certain things are a "man's" job and he wouldn't dream of his wife handling these types of things. What if the car needs an oil change? That's his job. Just like he wouldn't ever throw a dinner party or even think of cleaning the house or doing laundry. That's her job. KWIM?

You take the car to a place that does that.  Whoever works on the car, whether it's the dealer, All Tune & Lube, Joe's Garage, wherever, can change the oil.  I think your father is vastly underestimating your mother. Similarly, if there are plumbing problems, you call the plumber.  Did he never have to leave her to go on a business trip, serve in the military, etc?  Did she wring her hands and weep when the garbage needed to be taken out and he wasn't there?

There is only one thing in this house that DH can do that I can't, and that's change the bulb in the stairwell light.  I'm considerably shorter, so I'd have to get too far up the ladder to reach it safely. 
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