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deteriorating health in my parents! Advice needed.
Old 03-18-2015, 06:02 AM   #1
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deteriorating health in my parents! Advice needed.

So, over the past couple months i have witnessed my parents health slowly deteriorate in health, first it was my father who has been in and out of hospital and my mum was always fine, supportive and strong but the last couple weeks its like she has given up with the will to live. I am having to spend an increasing amount of time with them and think that I have to start thinking about full time care.



I hate to be the one suggesting they have to move in to full time care and so I am not sure how best to approach the subject with them. On the one hand I feel like it is their decision but on the other I am committing so many hours to having to help them I am left exhausted, any advice please?
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Old 03-18-2015, 06:29 AM   #2
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For us, an independent living arrangement was the first step. In-laws were able to be safe, and had most needs met. Another option might be at-home assistance.

My spouse had many talks with parents and siblings about the need to take some kind of action. It's good that you see the need now.
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Old 03-18-2015, 07:53 AM   #3
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Take this for what it is worth as you are facing a difficult situation.

My mother did not like the social aspect of the Home. She was uncomfortable in the social environment. My Dad didn't like it but handled it. Dad went into a facility when Mom could not care for him anymore. Mom stayed home with a caregiver for many years. We found a caregiver service that was affordable for us and with great caregivers. They still stay in touch with my sister long after my Mom passed.

Ultimately, we moved Mom to a home when one caregiver was not enough for your daily needs. She hated the Home and I think the experience in the Home simply accelerated all of her issues.

As you know, there is no great choice if your folks see this next steps as a bad thing. I just visited my 98 year old aunt who moved to the Methodist home a couple of years ago and is happy as can be. I hope your situation works out the same way.
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Old 03-18-2015, 08:10 AM   #4
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Hi Dave, this is exactly my fear... forcing them into a home will just make them give up as they arent enjoying it. It's the resent that i fear and i dont want to make my parents last years not enjoyable. comforting to know that i am not the only one dealing with this dilema
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Old 03-18-2015, 08:38 AM   #5
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Hi Dave, this is exactly my fear... forcing them into a home will just make them give up as they arent enjoying it. It's the resent that i fear and i dont want to make my parents last years not enjoyable. comforting to know that i am not the only one dealing with this dilema
But it could work the other way as well. A friend of mine was in this situation with his widowed MIL. The family did 'push' a bit to get her in an assisted living arrangement, she didn't like the idea, but absolutely loved it once she got there.

I think it is worth discussing with them, maybe just a little at a time? We were fortunate that DW's parents recognized they needed to do something at a point, they were already having problems, and we were relieved when they made the choice. If it went on longer, we would have had some 'pushing' to do, for their own safety, we were already concerned about them on their won (and several of us are close by).

-ERD50
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Old 03-18-2015, 08:44 AM   #6
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MikeP, a great many of us have been in this situation. Frequently it takes time, and several health crises, before a parent will admit to him or herself that he or she needs care. It's very difficult to give up one's independence. Very often the first step, apart from helping out as you are doing now, is home care. Good home care can prolong a person's ability to live in their own home for many years, at a cost much less than residential care.

Your dedication is really helping your parents. If you are becoming exhausted, you need help. My advice would be to meet with a social worker or care coordinator at your parents' health facility. These are the people who know what help is available in your community and can help you and your parents plan and navigate the system, including how to pay for it.

Look after yourself too. This will be a long journey.
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Old 03-18-2015, 08:46 AM   #7
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It should be their idea. My MIL would not acknowledge the need for a number of years (more than 5?). Eventually she came to accept that something had to change, as I believe she was becoming aware that she was losing long periods of time. She was a very strong-willed individual. During that time it was very difficult for FIL. Some things are better now. For example, we know they are safer than when in the house. However, health continues to deteriorate, as that can't be stopped.

Each situation is different. But you come to that day when you realize they are vulnerable to scams, not as safe as they could be, and so on. Many folks are in this situation.
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Old 03-18-2015, 10:49 AM   #8
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We placed both of my in-laws over the last couple of years in nursing. Both swore it was never going to happen. FIL started there with rehab after an event, and ended up staying. I won't say it was easy, but it went better than expected.


MIL had health issues requiring full-time care about a year later. As hard as we all tried to keep her at home, taking turns, and with in-home help, ultimately it just was not enough.


Every family and every person is different. It is a journey fraught with emotions for all parties. Ultimately, the decisions are made with love, but it is a marathon journey and not a sprint.
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Old 03-18-2015, 10:51 AM   #9
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MikeP, a great many of us have been in this situation. Frequently it takes time, and several health crises, before a parent will admit to him or herself that he or she needs care. It's very difficult to give up one's independence. Very often the first step, apart from helping out as you are doing now, is home care. Good home care can prolong a person's ability to live in their own home for many years, at a cost much less than residential care.

Your dedication is really helping your parents. If you are becoming exhausted, you need help. My advice would be to meet with a social worker or care coordinator at your parents' health facility. These are the people who know what help is available in your community and can help you and your parents plan and navigate the system, including how to pay for it.

Look after yourself too. This will be a long journey.
+1

Do you have any siblings? Can they provide any type of support?

Usually, the county or city government will have an elder care department. They can direct you to additional resources. It is important to match the facility to your parents' needs.

Please don't try to do this all on your own. It is physically and emotionally draining.

Many facilities will let people try it out for a brief period. At a minimum, you can try a tour.

My $.02.
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Old 03-18-2015, 11:06 AM   #10
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MikeP, you're getting great advice based on our family's experience. The two posts I identify most with are Meadbh and ERD50.

Meadbh hit the nail on the head it takes time for your parents to accept things aren't working. You need to take care of yourself, caregivers have exhausting roles. There are likely agency's in your area to turn to. They can help you navigate the system.

ERD50's response about bringing the situation up a little at a time, makes sense too. My parents lived independent into their 90s with 3 kids all 1500 miles away. After several emergency trips we talked with dad(mom had severe dementia), lovingly explained how we could help more if they were closer. To our surprise he was very willing to move back home where one sister was.

You don't mention assets, an elder care attorney may be in order. Make sure the details, POA, healthcare directives, wills/trusts have been taken care of.

While it's not a normal part of the aging process, many elders do suffer from depression. Don't know if that's where your DM's "will" comes in, or if it's just part of the realization that things have to change. It's a tough time for all, but you can't help if you're exhausted, so take care.
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Old 03-18-2015, 03:27 PM   #11
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MikeP, you are in such a difficult time with your parents, believe me I know. What I learned with mine as they deteriorated was that the most successful strategies were to be kind, patient, available and to make yourself ask the questions and probe into the areas required to find out how to best care for them. Unfortunately, this includes asking personal questions about health, money and their wishes. I was the person who had to do this and I remember forcing myself to go ask them something awkward and pretending in my mind that I was going to treat it like I was managing something unpleasant at work. Sometimes you just have to say that this is how it's going to be! It's so hard. Take care!
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Old 03-18-2015, 04:41 PM   #12
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I hate to be the one suggesting they have to move in to full time care and so I am not sure how best to approach the subject with them. On the one hand I feel like it is their decision but on the other I am committing so many hours to having to help them I am left exhausted, any advice please?
In a similar situation with my father, but my mom still works. Unfortunately, it's up to the kids to suggest things that are unpleasant sometimes. We are working with mom to arrange in-home care for dad for the short-term. Some insurance covers it for acute cases (i.e. broken hips, or the like) requiring treatment and assistance, Medicare might cover some in-home help for short periods as well. I think I'd start there, obviously looking at finances.

In any event, I empathize and sympathize.
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Old 03-18-2015, 04:45 PM   #13
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These are very difficult situations. In our case 3 of 4 parents were fine, financially able, and only one went into assisted living. End of life came through hospice with all three. Generally I'd rate the last few years of all 3's lives as fairly good. Now, in case of mother in law...

Worked until 80 and had nothing but SS. We made the "noble" decision to build addition and have her move in under our care when healthy, about 8 years ago. We paid for about all her expenses. Health deteriorated, was falling all the time, constantly DW was taking her to Dr. Didn't listen to admonitions to use walker, frankly became a real PIA because didn't do what would keep her from becoming a bigger burden. About a year ago had three hospitalizing falls in 3 months, that did it for us. Put her in AL, and she turned on us big time. After hearing how cruel this was of us I asked what had been her plan 8 years ago..."Oh, I'd have worked something out." Generally incensed that the money she had saved up from SS while living with us (HER money) was now going to have to be spent.

Fast forward to last four months. 5 hospitalizations at ~10-15k each (no wonder Medicare is in trouble, unbelievable. Every time a CT or MRI, every test they could bill for). This was 4x of pneumonia, 3x for C Diff, and heart issues. Anyway, the story is about to end as moved her to hospice last week.

I think I've described parts of the above before here. However, it is a warning that be careful what you get into. The $ was not an issue for us, but the time and emotional drain sure has been. It really came home when we couldn't be her personal staff any more and moved her to AL; she turned on us. DW has stayed the ever dutiful daughter yet has truly had enough of her. I'm not sure what we'd have done differently, but we sure would have liked the last 8 years not to have been a constant drain on us (well, honestly mainly DW). However, it has only increased my admiration for her; I now see how easy it is for her to put up with me.
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Old 03-18-2015, 04:59 PM   #14
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To the OP and all here who have gone through this: I'm so sorry.

We went though this with my father recently. It is tough. I have no easy answers except to say it is becoming a part of the common human experience as modern medicine has done so much to extend our lives to this stage.

It has also caused me to get introspective as to my own end of life issues... should DW and I last that long. Without Darling Children, it is causing us to spend time in serious thought and planning.

Times like this make you look into yourself. I keep seeing that cartoon people post here about time and work, with the headstones. Makes me want to stop my OMY. Yet I continue at it.
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Old 03-18-2015, 05:15 PM   #15
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We are going through this with my father, age 84. With cancer spreading to several parts of his body, very immobile, and dealing with the side effects of many different medications, he has been in and out of the hospital for extended periods of time over the past year. The entire process is taking a toll on the rest of the family. One brother in particular lives an hour away from him and bears the brunt of the care giver responsibilities.

We are trying to convince my father that a nursing home would be in his best interests, and frankly it would be in the interests of the rest of the family, too, but my father is very resistant to the idea.

I like the idea of trying to get my father to understand the benefits of 24 nursing care vs the patchwork of home health care he has now. If he thinks we are forcing him into it he will not like it even if we can get him to go, but maybe if he comes to the conclusion ob his own it will work out.

It is interesting to see the many responses to this thread already. I agree this is going to be a very common experience for families in coming years and unfortunately there are no easy answers.
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Old 03-18-2015, 05:23 PM   #16
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It has also caused me to get introspective as to my own end of life issues... should DW and I last that long. Without Darling Children, it is causing us to spend time in serious thought and planning.
The issues with FIL two years ago brought it home for us too, and now we're seeing it again with the elderly (80-year-old) neighbor. His wife went to AL two weeks ago, now he was just diagnosed with severe memory issues. His doc told him not to drive, and he is going to sell his house next door to us and move in with one daughter who lives nearby. She knows this is going to be tough and was happy that we'd take him out to lunch once in awhile - he is a great guy, at least for now. FIL had a great next-door neighbor who would call us if anything seemed amiss so this is our chance to pay it forward.

We don't have kids and wouldn't want to saddle them with all this if we did so all of this is why we're planning on moving to an independent living CCRC well before circumstances force us to. Hopefully when my time comes I'll go out like my father - get The Big Ache and be dead by the time I hit the floor. That's a hope, not a plan though, so we're planning on things being a little more dragged out.

It is just acknowledging that we are not immune from the ills that have befallen others so put ourselves in a position such that if it happens it will be as easy as possible to deal with.
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Old 03-18-2015, 05:27 PM   #17
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Seeing my father retire at age 77 only to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at 78 was the impetus for my being on this forum.
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Old 03-18-2015, 05:30 PM   #18
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When taking care of my mom got to be too much for me, I found an easy way out.

There is a nice retirement community around here where everyone has their own apartment, three good meals are served every day in the dining room a short walk down the hall, and there are various activities and transportation as needed to local stores and medical appointments.

It always looked like a good thing to me, so long before she needed it I started talking about it to her. I used to kid her about "putting her in the institution" but she knew what I meant.

About the time I was overwhelmed with taking care of her, she recognized it and brought up the subject. I was so glad I had seeded the ground!

Despite initial misgivings, within a week she loved the place and spent many happy years there before she had to move to an assisted living facility, then finally to a memory care home.

It all went as well as could be expected. So my advice would be to start laying the groundwork for this type of move as early as possible. Best of luck!
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Old 03-18-2015, 07:09 PM   #19
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I don't know how much care your parents need but with my mother we started with a home health aide . Best decision ever . The aide would take my Mom to all her appointments , food shop , do laundry , run errands and basically do anything needed. At that time is was $17.50 an hour . My Mom has since moved into an independent living facility with continuing care available . She really did not want to go but once she did she loves it . This is a rough time so take care .
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Old 03-18-2015, 08:23 PM   #20
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I've heard lots of people say their parents didn't want to go to a retirement home, and loved it once they got there. We couldn't convince my mother, so now she is in her home hanging out with the fulltime personal support workers. She doesn't understand why they have to be there, and complains about them, but they are keeping her safe, and allowing me to work and sleep and have an outside life. I am glad she can afford this, because it is hugely expensive. When my time comes, I want to be in a home with my peers, instead of being followed around by people whose accents I can't understand.
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