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Plan for first talk w/ aging parents: that didn't go over well
Old 05-04-2015, 04:06 PM   #1
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Plan for first talk w/ aging parents: that didn't go over well

So my brother and I have been talking to our mom about what the future plans are for residency, care, finances, etc.

Last Sunday I was talking with my mom as I do every Sunday just to catch up and we were talking about maybe me and my brother would come out and help with the 'heavy' chores that are getting harder for my folks to do.

And we also talked about using this trip as an opportunity to open a dialog to discuss what their plans are as my mom has some health problems and my dad has what my mom calls 'good days' and 'bad days'.

Well, I guess my dad overheard some of the conversation and my dad was 'livid' to use my mom's words (message left on my phone).

So the trip is off for now until things calm down.

Question is, how should we approach this?

My mom is all for planning downsizing, moving to more convenient services that wouldn't require either of them having to drive anymore, and closer to care.

My dad...well...that's the problem.

Any sage experience or advice from others who have been here before?

Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2015, 04:14 PM   #2
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Sorry.... no sage experience from me....

The first time I brought up planning for the future (which IMO was at least 5 years away) did not go over well with my mom... she told my sisters that I wanted to put her in a home... it took may years to get my mom to agree to move and we only got her to move to a safe high rise condo...

She has been living in the condo with some hired help 3 days a week... but her memory is going... so I have started talking to her moving into a facility that can help her.... getting all the same negative feedback she gave before she moved into the condo.. I try to remind her that she tells me that the move into the condo was the best thing that could have happened to her....



So.... good luck with your problem, but I do not see any good outcome for you....
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Old 05-04-2015, 04:20 PM   #3
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Yeah that doesn't sound promising. We tried to get there earlier with FIL but he waited until it was almost too late. It was only by luck that we got him into a very good place (they had just opened a new building that eliminated a 5-year wait list and had ten or so apartments left).

The only thing I can think of is to approach it with the idea that it is inevitable and he may not want to face that. FIL didn't and that was the problem until there was simply no denying it even to himself.

Your mom is probably the best hope of convincing him.
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Old 05-04-2015, 04:35 PM   #4
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How old are they?

My parents were 83 and 85 when we first started asking if they needed any help. They already had a cleaning service every 2 weeks, but Dad was still driving and they did all their own errands. They were living in a condo building so had no home maintenance issues.

I asked my Dad a few specific things -

-Are you still able to handle bill paying and the checking account? He said that he tackles this first thing in the morning when he's most alert and focused.
-I asked if he had trouble with shopping and driving. He said they always do it together and watch out for each other.
-I asked about medication management and he told me that they write everything down on a calendar. So far so good, thanks for asking, I'll let you know if we need anything.

Very soon after that my Mom died suddenly, at home, and two weeks later my Dad broke his hip and didn't come home for two months. Things changed drastically and permanently. After about 6 months with a home health aide we started talking to him about an assisted living facility.

Of course he was very hesitant to give up his home and make such a huge change. My sister and I checked out 5 places and took him for a tour of one close to him. He was ok with talking about it and looked at it as something for "Maybe later on, in a few years."

My sister took him back for another visit and a lunch and he started to realize how much simpler it would make his life (no shopping, no cooking, people around him) and very soon he was ready to make the move.

It's very hard for any of us to make changes, give up independence and accept that we aren't who we used to be.

It's a good idea to plant the idea and not push. You don't want to be the bad guy who wants to "put them in a home." You're probably not even talking about an assisted living facility, maybe just a condo or a senior living area.

You want to be supportive for when they feel the need to make a change.

Unfortunately for many it comes down to having to quickly make a change when a crisis happens.

Good luck.
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Old 05-04-2015, 04:36 PM   #5
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Oh gosh, it's so hard. And like probably every one of us, your parents, especially your dad, are not going down without a fight.

I think one way to approach it is to talk about how they like to spend their days. Include both of them so your dad does not feel singled out. It will probably be revealed that the chores and things your dad did happily when he was younger are now burdens but it will take a while for him to admit it.

Leverage your mom, that is hard for her to navigate a lot of "stuff" and that downsizing might be a good idea "in the future".
Agree to go visit communities or areas that might interest them.

Slow steps are the best, but frustrating because we want to mitigate a crisis but they are only going to go at their pace so at the same time we have to respect that.

I'm dealing with a terminally ill mom and a dad who is 86 but very healthy and active. To get my mom to allow a caregiver took almost one year, then I started by having the caregiver only do things OUTSIDE the house, like drive her places, grocery shop, then finally she allowed the caregiver into the home.

Good luck, I know it is very frustrating and just like when people have kids, there are no road maps to tell us what to do!


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Old 05-04-2015, 04:40 PM   #6
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My dad is 85, has had double bypass, is on blood thinners and has difficulties with forms, bills, correspondence, and some 'unusual' episodes.


My mom has pain in her joints, gets steroid injections from time to time - she is 79.


My dad was one of the sharpest people I know on all accounts - and took care ahead of time of all their finances (living trust, powers of attorney, even LTCI).


This first talk was just to make sure we all knew where stuff was, and get up to date on their plans, maybe help with decluttering, heavy chores that neither can do now.


I haven't had 'dad' pissed at me since I snuck out of the house with the neighborhood guys to 'get high' - that will live in infamy in that neighborhood.
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Old 05-04-2015, 05:11 PM   #7
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BBQ-NUT that's a tough one. You mentioned DM is all for planning, can she work on DF on her own? Depends on their relationship, my meek timid MIL could work on FIL without him knowing. In my parents relationship that would have never worked.

With my parents we were so surprised when Dad agreed to move home to be near my Sister. Think he knew things were going downhill. Mom was already in a Nursing home.

This was a book that helped me and siblings see things differently. No endorsement, but we got some good ideas for our situation from this book. Best wishes.

http://www.amazon.com/When-Roles-Rev.../dp/1571745009

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Old 05-04-2015, 05:47 PM   #8
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After a few years of rushing to their condo in the middle of the night because Dad fell, Dad having increasing memory lapses, and having little success with cleaning services and "helping companions", I finally put a down payment on a very nice assisted living facility with memory care. Fortunately they had moved from their house to a 2 bedroom condo about 8-10 years earlier so the change was not too drastic. It also helped that they were only about 10 miles away so I could visit frequently and take them out to run errands, shop, or eat out. If I had the means and a house with an attached apartment then I would have tried that first. Even so the transition is never easy. I know when my time comes I will not be a happy camper.

Cheers!
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Old 05-04-2015, 06:24 PM   #9
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The experiences we've had with my mother, DW's father, and some other relatives are the reason we're planning on moving to a CCRC in the next 5 to 8 years. We don't have kids and of course wouldn't want to burden them if we did.

My mother moved to a CCRC in her early 70's and it worked out great for her. She was in independent living for all but the last six months and while independent she had a great time. She went on lots of the organized trips and some not organized, made lots of friends and often it took me several days to reach her on the phone because she was out doing stuff. When health issues caught up with her she was in assisted living for ~six months. By then she couldn't drive anyway so it was a relief for us to know she was in a highly regarded place.

FIL didn't want to face the reality that there might come a day when he simply would be unable to live by himself. A diabetic episode made it clear that he no longer could since he couldn't walk or even use a wheelchair after a couple of months. I have no idea what happens to someone in his position when they don't have the help that DW and I gave him. He probably would have died on the kitchen floor.

While everyone hopes that when "their time comes" they will just keel over or pass away in sleep that's not usually the reality. I am somewhat surprised by the number of other people my age (65) or older who simply don't want to face that.

That's where the CCRC comes in. We'll have made the move and the adjustment to the move while we're still "all there" and still have (hopefully) full capability for independent living, but when health degrades we'll be in a position where the help we'll probably need will already be in place.

Anyway, that's the plan.
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Old 05-04-2015, 07:18 PM   #10
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No advice on how to handle, but I can only thank God my parents did not take the approach of your father. In the end, by not facing reality (which is what this is at its core) and planning accordingly the result will be a crisis that forces you and your brother to act. At the end of the day it is selfish IMHO for parents to put their children through such a situation/angst...

PS- Perhaps you could try to make your father see the impact of his approach on you and your brother: which is to say your having to clean up a mess of his making that could potentially be avoided.
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Old 05-04-2015, 07:21 PM   #11
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Selfish, perhaps, but old age, like childhood, narrows focus to the self.

Remember, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
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Old 05-04-2015, 07:36 PM   #12
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You are a good son, no doubt about it.

It soumd like you call them on Sunday but don't see them frequently? I think you and your brother should still make your trip to their house to take care of the heavy lifting chores, as you had planned. Maybe discussing their future on the phone with your mother struck your father in the wrong way because you haven't recently seen firsthand how well or poorly they are coping?

Good luck!
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Old 05-04-2015, 11:58 PM   #13
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Going through that now with the parents, ahead of you a bit. Like Walt34, my plan for myself will be a CCRC. For those with the resources, that's a great approach.

I started a few years ago planting the idea. I told my parents why I planned, myself, to move to a CCRC in later life, in my late 70's. I explained why I thought it would be good for them. No dice - Mom was in agreement but Dad was not open. But over the years. I talked to both of them, together and separately, gently.

I had almost given up that Dad would ever agree until one or the other was totally incapacitated. Another family member then one of my parents' friends moved into a CCRC. They both loved it. Still no movement from my Dad. Then all of a sudden things happened both with my Mom's health and changes in the life of their handyman/helper who will no longer be as available to them. And all of a sudden, Dad was open to the idea. Indeed, he said they needed to move as soon as possible. That was in late February. Next week they move.

Persist. Gently, respectfully. Get to know what's available that you think is appropriate and within their resources so when they are open you are ready with correct answers. Narrow the choices so it's not overwhelming. Once I could honestly tell them which specific CCRC I would pick for myself, that was the one they wanted to see. If we were going to look at everything available it would never get decided.

I know this will be a better, happier, safer, more interesting, healthier, and more convenient life for them. I am so grateful they are dong this and I have told them that repeatedly.

Good luck.


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Old 05-05-2015, 01:21 AM   #14
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Having had discussions with my mom (who is now 91 and still lives independently) many times I do see her point of view.

She is a widow and still lives alone, drives (she stays to drives she is very familiar with and avoids certain freeways), and manages everything on her own. She is forgetful of some things, but seems to otherwise manage things. Her health is not great (she is diabetic), but for someone with the long list of problems I could list...she actually manages pretty well. She goes to see her doctors every few months and takes medicine, but really does manage pretty well.

Still, she talks about how hard it is to manage. I am the only child, but I live 4 1/2 hours away. One thing that is increasingly difficult is that so much of the world is now doing stuff online. She will call someone to do something and they want her to go online to do this or that. Well, she doesn't have a computer or smart phone or internet access and doesn't understand or want them. She finds it tiring to have to deal with things by phone.

She gets tired when she goes out (mostly to the grocery store or the doctor).

We have offered (many times) for her to move in with us. But, she doesn't want to do it. Forget about assisted living. From her standpoint, that is tantamount to a nursing home. Her own mother was briefly in a nursing home in the 1980s. It was so horrific that her kids very quickly removed her and brought her to live with one of them for the remainder of her life (by then she had dementia and almost no vision left). My mother is very stubborn and pretty much thinks that everything from assisted living own is a terrible nursing home.

She actually has no need of a nursing home, but something to help her with not having to manage everything herself would be great to her.

In addition to the fear of nursing home is not wanting to lose her independence. I spent half an hour talking to her about this within the last week (trying again to persuade her to move in with us). What it gets down to is that she wants her house, her way. She has very strong views of what she likes and doesn't like and wouldn't like not being the one in charge.

She recognizes that it may come to a point when she would have to move in with us (if she couldn't drive for example), but she wants to postpone it as long as possible. I've encouraged her to do it sooner rather than later as it would be better (IMHO) for her to do it while she is still in relatively good health rather than waiting until she is in much worse condition. She does not agree.

But, the point is that for her the loss of independence is a really huge deal.
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Old 05-05-2015, 05:47 AM   #15
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My father was like that and refused to talk about his financial situation or share details, but at least he had a will. He had a terrible financial mind and didn't make good choices, and I think he refused to discuss these things because he didn't understand them well and felt his seniority and family standing was at risk. He was very suspicious of any meeting of the minds I had with my mother that was about anything other than choosing a restaurant.

So while he was still alive I began to have conversations with my mother, just to see if she needed anything. We were careful and discrete, and made sure not to do anything that made him feel threatened. Before he died she began to involve me in her financial affairs, and over a decade this evolved and deepened, very slowly. Now I manage all of her financial affairs and day to day living arrangements, and along with a brother, also her health matters.

In our case, I think what led to all this was, in the beginning, we started talking without any real objective or specific aim, just so she had the opportunity to talk about things that were on her mind.
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Old 05-05-2015, 08:28 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by BBQ-Nut View Post

Well, I guess my dad overheard some of the conversation and my dad was 'livid' to use my mom's words (message left on my phone).


My dad...well...that's the problem.

Any sage experience or advice from others who have been here before?

Thanks!
Been there, done that (and still there). Mom is willing to get some help or move into assisted living but dad won't even talk about it.

To be honest, I can understand wanting to live in the comfort of your own home and I know when my time comes I probably won't like it either but I think I'll be able to accept it. (maybe)
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Old 05-05-2015, 08:29 AM   #17
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Thanks for sharing, folks - I appreciate the camaraderie and advice.


Next steps will be slow after the pot settles back from its boil.

My mom wants to keep this quiet and we'll correspond by email (which my dad does not do).

She'll work on my dad that we are not scheming to put them in a 'home', but just start a dialog on what their plans are and what can be done in the more immediate future to start prepping (they have a lot of junk that certainly could be throw/given away).
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Old 05-05-2015, 09:02 AM   #18
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You might open a dialogue by suggesting that you both want what is best for them and the only way to know is to ask. Either they can share their plans with you and make choices they will be happy with or they can wait until it is too late and leave everything up to you when they are unable. They may not like the outcome.

As our daughter used to say whenever she felt we were unfair: Always remember that I get to choose your nursing home.
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Old 05-05-2015, 11:42 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post

She actually has no need of a nursing home, but something to help her with not having to manage everything herself would be great to her.

In addition to the fear of nursing home is not wanting to lose her independence. I spent half an hour talking to her about this within the last week (trying again to persuade her to move in with us). What it gets down to is that she wants her house, her way. She has very strong views of what she likes and doesn't like and wouldn't like not being the one in charge.

.
When my Mom got to this stage I hired a home health aide through Caregivers America . My Mom balked at the idea but we stood firm that this was the way to go . Once she got used to the aide it worked well . The aide would take my Mom to the doctor's , the beauty parlor & anywhere else she wanted . The aide would food shop , do laundry & pretty much anything my Mom wanted . Usually five hours a week was all that was needed so the cost was well worth the peace of mind .
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Old 05-05-2015, 12:08 PM   #20
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Selfish, perhaps, but old age, like childhood, narrows focus to the self.

Remember, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
Very wise.

To that end our family was all 1500 miles away from elderly parents. We knew DM had dementia but she was happy and not a problem. DF was doing his best to help her with food, cleaning etc.
My sister went to the refigerator when DF wasn't around. What a surprise all the condiments were 3+ years past date! Brown Heinz ketchup. DM glacoma meds that needed refrigeration sitting in the cupboard!

Point is look around at some not so obvious items. You might be surprised.


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