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Coping with aging parents
Old 01-09-2010, 01:15 PM   #1
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Coping with aging parents

I've been off the board for a while. Some of it's been catching up on projects, some of it's been holiday family fun. But a big part of it has been coming to grips with helping my father.

My Dad's been widowed for over 20 years and lives in the rural Rockies. He's an electrical & nuclear engineer and he's been ER'd for over 20 years. (Yeah, I know, apple: tree.) He's happy in a small apartment, he drives the national parks, and he hikes the mountains. He doesn't like to socialize but he chats with clerks & cashiers. He doesn't like to travel, especially to Hawaii. He's pretty much made himself a hermit by choice, and we hear from him on birthdays & anniversaries. It's been this way for decades.

About 18 months ago he e-mailed that his doctor said his blood pressure wasn't responding to exercise & diet, so after trying a couple medications they eventually settled on Fosinopril and hydrochlorothiazide. Otherwise, today at age 76 he's healthy and in good physical condition from hiking at altitude in all sorts of weather.

A year ago he mentioned that he'd had his first "slipping memory" incident. He set out in the car for somewhere, forgot where he was going, gave up but got lost, and had to read a map to figure out how to get back home. His doctor recommended a "specialist" (Dad's word) who immediately alienated him with homeopathic diet/exercise lifestyle advice. Now Dad feels that doctors are wasting his time and he doesn't want to be endlessly tested/medicated, although he claims he's still taking the BP meds. He says he's done speaking to doctors because he doesn't think that anything can be done about his memory problem. As far as he's concerned, it's caused by getting old and he doesn't think anything will help. I offered to talk with his doctor about it but he said he doesn't want to give the doctor any chances to prescribe more tests.

A few months ago he stopped responding to e-mail, and last month he announced (by letter) that his memory made him unable to use his computer. This set off all sorts of personal alarms so I made my first trip to his home in almost 25 years.

I hope I'm wrong, but from what I've seen and researched he seems to show classic symptoms of vascular dementia. He doesn't hold up his half of a discussion. He responds to conversations with a remark or he answers questions but he doesn't carry on with a story or a question of his own. There is no more witty repartee. He repeats himself. Almost every time we left the apartment he showed me where he hides a spare key. He checks his mailbox several times a day (including Sunday). He can't remember what we have planned for the day or when. He prepares his meals well, but he ends up opening every kitchen cabinet door every five minutes to look for everything. When we agreed one evening that we needed to leave for the airport at 5:45 AM next morning, at least twice more that evening he asked me to tell him again-- and next morning he said that he'd forgotten what time we were leaving.

His old long-term memories seem affected too. When I was a kid we watched Julie Andrews musicals incessantly and played their soundtracks on our stereo. On this visit we happened to catch "The Sound of Music" on TV. He recognized Julie Andrews but couldn't remember why she was famous. He had no idea that she would be in the next movie on TV: "Mary Poppins". We stopped watching TSOM just before its dramatic final 30 minutes because he felt that the plot wasn't going anywhere. The VCR remote control that he's been using for over a decade now gives him a lot of trouble, although he's figured out how to work around it.

Like any good nuke ER, he keeps a one-page calendar on his refrigerator and each morning he marks off yesterday. Every 10th day is circled to remind him to do his grocery shopping. It saddens me to see the little arrows he's drawn between the months to remind him which month comes next.

Despite all the memory problems, he frequently remembers that he agreed to something and he just needs a refresher what the agreement was. Still other memories seem to be no problem at all. I don't know if this is all part of dementia or a combination of problems.

Otherwise he seems to be taking care of himself. He's remarkably cheerful. He seems to be fine with hygiene and healthy meals/snacks. (He doesn't like to eat out much.) He watches the news and reads the daily paper. Driving is no problem. He says that when he hikes, he chooses trails going uphill so that he can easily return to the car when he's tired. He's embarrassed that he doesn't dust the apartment enough but it's amazingly clean. He keeps his address, my name, and my phone number in his wallet. He says that if he "gets lost" again then he'll ask a police officer to get him home and to give me a call.

Diagnosis may not be so difficult, but as far as he's concerned treatment isn't even an option. He knows that someday he'll be unable to care for the apartment and will have to move into a facility, but he's not interested in researching it yet. He doesn't see himself as "old". We drove by a place labeled "Retirement Apartments" and I asked him what they were. His answer was "Oh, that's a care home for old people." When the day comes that he has to go to a facility, I'm afraid it's going to be a short-term crisis-- if indeed there's anything available. He prefers to stay in his rural town. However by the time he needs a care facility he might not be able to tell his town from the city, or he may decide to have more choices by moving into a city care facility. I believe him when he says that he couldn't stand Hawaii's heat/humidity, so neither one of us is interested in moving him here.

Ironically my Dad is no stranger to this situation. In the late 1980s, his dad was diagnosed with severe dementia and spent nearly 14 years in a full-care facility before dying at age 97. At least my Dad made some preparations in the 1990s-- he has long-term care insurance and his will & medical directive are still effective. But he's not interested in powers of attorney or having me help with his finances. Being the person he is, he says he doesn't want to give up his independence or leave his home or get anyone's help. He's effectively chosen to do nothing else... until he runs out of choices.

I've talked with a geriatric care manager who says this is typical of the situation. An elder will stubbornly hunker down in their home until the hassle becomes too much and they reluctantly accept help (technology, delivery services, and visitors). Eventually managing all the help becomes enough of a hassle/expense that they're grudgingly willing to move to an "independent living" apartment which offers a transition to a full-care facility. Or they break a hip and it's a crisis.

I'd like to smooth the way even more by checking out help, technology, and facilities... and maybe even getting on waiting lists. I've tracked down a few names/places in his area but I don't see how I can talk to them or visit them without bringing up his name. I'm concerned that they'd contact him by "mistake" or even spam him, and I can only imagine his reaction if he found out what I was doing without his knowledge.

I'm just very thankful that I have the time, finances, and ability to help. It seems that all I can do is keep the lines of communication open, be ready to offer geriatric-care managers and full-care facilities, and wait for "the call".
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:03 PM   #2
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Sorry you are going through this I have been in this scenario for quite a few years . I started by contacting Senior services where my Mom lived ( Pa.) . They were very helpful and never contacted her . I lined up Meals on Wheels which she hated . The best thing I did was contact a few agencies that had aides that assist with helping the elderly stay in their home . I got lots of brochures with the prices and the services so when the time came I picked one .Caregivers America . For $17.50 an hour I got a woman who was perfect for my Mother . She drove her to Doctor visits , she food shopped ,she basically would do whatever my Mom needed . Between her & a cleaning lady my Mom got to stay in her house longer . Of course I had some family nearby who would check on her . She does have power of Attorney and that is something I would really push for . I also had to assist in care of an elderly family friend and I checked out assisted livings for her . I visited them and she was never notified until we had narrowed the choice. Assisted living facilities are used to these long distance care problems so I'd call them and tell them the problems.
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:32 PM   #3
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Nords, I read your post, and your father is exhibiting the exact behavior my mother was showing when I came here. She was 86 when I arrived, but, in her mind, she didn't need help when she couldn't drive anymore (she found she was getting confused when she drove streets she lived on for 57 years!) and couldn't even walk down the stairs to the basement anymore to wash her clothes. But, in her mind, she didn't need any help. She figured her once a week housekeeper could do it all for her when the housekeeper had her own family (and a dying mother) to take care of. She lost the ability to logically think things out when I got here, obviously.
She balked so much that--instead of staying--I went to Chicago to live until I "got the call." 3 hours away, so I knew I could haul it back quickly. So, when she had a stroke a year later, I bailed and moved in with her. After that, she didn't really fight me moving in much, but still did to some degree saying over and over that she could take care of herself and didn't need help. She couldn't, but she hated to let go of that control.
My mother even was doing the calendar stuff exactly like your Dad. Marking off the days each morning kept her knowing what day it was.
And, when she started to get wobbly walking and I wanted to get her just a cane (not even a walker), she had fits because, "walkers are for old people." She was 88 when that happened. Then she fell--as was inevitable--and got the walker when the nurses at the hospital encouraged it.
If your father seems stubborn...well, everything you have ever heard about old folks being stubborn is true. They are.
And the repeating things? That's the behavior that you first notice when the mind is going I found. My mother, who is 91 now, asks the same thing over and over and over. And she tells me the same old stories over and over and over. She doesn't have a clue she is repeating I found.
Your father, being such a recluse, is a negative for him. If nothing else, my mother has held on somewhat to her mind so long because I've been here chatting with her (which helps tremendously in keeping the brain going the hospital told me) and my son has spent alot of time with her. Talking to her brought her more into reality as she was getting really "out" there in her thought process I found.

I'm glad you have started looking into facilities to put him into that he would be happy with. Do it undercover--just like I would have had to do if I were going to put my mother in a facility. I totally understand how his reaction would be as my mother would have been the same: "you just want to get rid of me" or "I'm not going to live with all those old people." She'd have every excuse in the world not to go--and all the while she would be telling me she was competent to take care of herself. Not.

Sounds like you have a good handle on where he is. Do what you have to do, because I'm afraid the time to use those leads will be coming sooner rather than later by the way it sounds, Nords. He sounds as if he's slipping rather fast like my Mom did, Nords, so prepare yourself emotionally, too, for this experience. Anything you need to say to him or want answers to, better ask now.

**The upside of this is when the Dr. or anyone asks Mom how old she is she thinks she's 60! Cool trick that she's 5 years younger than me..ha!
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:37 PM   #4
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Oh dear. Been there, done that, also at long distance. Not dementia, but similar stubbornness independent streak.

The first thing to remember is that you should not feel guilty about your inability to prevent a disaster. Your father is not allowing you to be in control. Your role is to be as supportive as possible while things play out.

It's a real concern that your father will not consider a power of attorney. And as the dementia advances, would one even be valid? Many elderly people, in their zeal to stay in control, inadvertently end up making things more difficult for themselves and their families. My mother also refused to do a POA. This is where a good financial advisor comes in. She had a banker that she trusted, and he specialized in working with elderly people. He was able to persuade her that my name should at least be on her checking and savings accounts jointly, and persuaded her that I was not going to abuse the privilege. This greatly facilitated paying the bills when she was unable to do so (and later, the estate administration). If your father has a financial advisor, ask if you can meet together.

As for home care services and personal care homes, I made no bones about openly researching them when visiting. I would come home with brochures and open up the conversation. Initially my mother pooh poohed all this ("that's a care home for old people" is a very famliar phrase), but as her abilities failed she reluctantly, incrementally began to accept more support. But it still took a few good crises (think 911) and a few good hospital social workers to work with me to get her to allow us to coordinate her care.

It was an exhausting few years, and expensive. Get your surfing now while you can.
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:05 PM   #5
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Yes, the bank my Mom used talked her into the Power of Attorney, as well as, her attorney (she used to give him rides home from school/neighborhood kid/good friend's son). The bankers are used to dealing with this, Norm, and I'd get them to talk to him when you go up there and make a point to take him to the bank so they can. Call them ahead of time and explain, and I'd be surprised if they didn't work with you.
Ditto Meadbh's point that you have a few exhausting years ahead. Trust us on that one, Nords.

By the way, if your father lives alone, Nords, is he eating enough? My mother was spending $10 a WEEK on food and thought that was wonderful. She would actually brag about it. So out of touch. She was so skinny, so I promptly began cooking and feeding her. She gained over 20 pounds and kept it on until this past year.
Now she is into that really steep downward slide where the Dr. said last Monday that her dementia is going to be alot worse fast now, and, even tho eating pretty well, she's losing weight.
She's starting to wind it up I think and, I know from the Dr. this past Monday, her liver is slowly quitting functioning. There is just nothing left that I can do besides make her comfortable and help her enjoy what little time she has left.

So, my point is, do you have someone who can look in on him to make SURE he is eating? I surely wouldn't take his word for it if he is anything like my mother, and he sounds as if he is.

And how is he taking his meds? If he is responsible for getting his own meds together then you might have a problem. My mother would either take 2 when she was to take 1 or forget it when I got here. And she wasn't even that bad then.

I assume, since you didn't mention it, that he isn't incontinent yet, which would be a blessing. If he loses bladder control, someone will have to probably help him more. And expect a possible fight when he has to start Depends.

Is he able to wash his own clothing still? And DOES he? Things like changing clothing and his sheets/towels and so forth. My mother--a former runway model and always spotless--was wearing robes with spots of egg and things on them. She didn't even realize it she was so out of it, and she literally did not see it at all. They don't even realize they don't see what's in front of them.

There's alot to deal with here, isn't there? Moemg's idea of getting an in-home visiting caregiver that would help him get groceries and meds and so forth is a good one. Is there some agency where you can hire someone there? If not, can you put an ad in the local paper and interview them on the phone? It sounds as if he needs the help now.
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:06 PM   #6
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The first thing to remember is that you should not feel guilty about your inability to prevent a disaster.
These are words I live by. Without going into a lot of detail, it's a fine line trying to protect my parents and stepping back to respect the way they want to live. Their independence always has been very important to them and they do not want to depend on me as I am their child. So far I've just checked up on them by phone and visits....and I wait... I live 9 hours away from them.

Nords, I know this is difficult for you and I'm sorry you're having to go through this.
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:53 PM   #7
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Tough one, Nords. Sorry for your burden.

Sans details, you really can't distinguish between vascular and Alsheimer's dementia, as well as a few infrequent reversible or partially reversible causes. You'll want to make sure he gets a CT scan (for possible increased brain fluid or "hydrocephalus"), B12 deficiency, thyroid problems and a few others. It might pay to make a trip to him with a few doctors lined up (his primary, for starters).

You could also see an attorney to make sure all the papers are in order including living will, POA, will, etc. but you know all that.

Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 01-09-2010, 05:35 PM   #8
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Oh by the way, does he have a personal alarm? That was one thing my mother did agree to, and it saved her life twice.
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Old 01-09-2010, 05:49 PM   #9
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Oh by the way, does he have a personal alarm? That was one thing my mother did agree to, and it saved her life twice.

Great idea ! My Mom also has one and it has been well worth the cost !
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Old 01-09-2010, 06:03 PM   #10
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Nords - I'm so glad to hear from you. I noticed you haven't posted lately and was concerned. I'm very sorry to hear about your Dad and the problems he's having these days.

You are a good man Nords. You are trying to help your Dad without invading his privacy or personal freedom. I know you have respect for him and want to help as best you can. This is tough tightrope to walk on for sure.

DH and I have been through this with his mom who recently passed away after many years of illness and disability. All I can say is I believe you are handling this in the best possible way. So often family members try to take over the life of an elderly relation. Yes, it's with love and concern, but isn't necessarily the best thing for them. We need to ask ourselves what we would want from a family member if we were in a similar situation.

I can offer one suggestion. Get your Dad a cell phone and program your number in it as well as others that might be needed if he has problems. Even if he doesn't use it, it would be useful to anyone who might find him in a crisis situation.

Your Dad is blessed to have you as a son. Please keep us posted.
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Old 01-09-2010, 08:36 PM   #11
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When you speak about an "alarm" are you talking about that "help! I've fallen and I can't get up" ones? Life-something? They require a neighbor who has a key to come to the house when the alarm is pressed, which would be a tremendous problem where my mother lives as the area is filled with professionals who all work in the day. That's the one glitch in that system that doesn't work for all. FYI.

I agree with the backing away for now, but he will get to the point where Nords will have to step in and take control to some degree I'm guessing. Just step back, wait and hope that doesn't happen for awhile is all you can do.
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Old 01-09-2010, 09:13 PM   #12
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When you speak about an "alarm" are you talking about that "help! I've fallen and I can't get up" ones? Life-something? They require a neighbor who has a key to come to the house when the alarm is pressed, which would be a tremendous problem where my mother lives as the area is filled with professionals who all work in the day.

No , My Mom's alarm goes right to 911.
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:10 PM   #13
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Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I think this is more about the frustration of knowing that you're going to be obligated to help someone who doesn't want your help. And we all bring our baggage to the situation.

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Oh dear. Been there, done that, also at long distance. Not dementia, but similar stubbornness independent streak.
The first thing to remember is that you should not feel guilty about your inability to prevent a disaster. Your father is not allowing you to be in control. Your role is to be as supportive as possible while things play out.
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These are words I live by. Without going into a lot of detail, it's a fine line trying to protect my parents and stepping back to respect the way they want to live. Their independence always has been very important to them and they do not want to depend on me as I am their child. So far I've just checked up on them by phone and visits....and I wait...
Exactly. And, of course, you're always wondering if they're competent to decide for themselves.

He's my Dad, but we're not close. I was a tough kid to raise and he's had more tough times caring for Mom and his father. I think the family pretty much sputtered apart when Mom died in 1987 (breast cancer) and we've only gotten together 3-4 times since then. He's made no real attempt over the years to get to know his grandkid and I feel as if I've been pestering him just to stay in touch, let alone visit. Now the time to "bring the family closer together" has passed. I feel society's obligation to help because he's my Dad, but I don't feel obligated to help when it's not wanted and not yet really needed.

My brother and I are getting along well on this situation. He's about 250 miles away from Dad but he's running his own struggling business; he has little time and less money to devote to family care. When "the call" comes we've agreed that he can drive over immediately and stay 2-3 days while I can take a day or two to get a flight and stay as long as necessary. But beyond that he's not very involved in the discussions let alone the decisions. I've asked him if he's heard anything good/bad about the names of the geriatric care managers I've been given, but next week I'm going to take the next step whether I've heard from him or not. My brother stayed with Mom & Dad for about a decade after I got the hell outta Dodge joined the Navy but I don't know how well that went. He might not feel obligated to help, or he might just not have any time left over after working on his business. Or he might be dealing with his own baggage.

When I flew to see Dad last month, I thought my visit would be about solving problems with technology-- a simpler computer for e-mail, a Jitterbug phone, and conference calls with the doctor. Geriatric care managers are starting to do a lot of staff networking with PDAs and websites instead of the traditional notebook on the kitchen table. Companies like Intel & GE are wiring homes for whatever the elder and the family want to track. I've seen the product demos and, when the elder can be persuaded that the tech worth the effort, the tech is very effective.

But we didn't even discuss the problems, let alone solve them. What I've learned from our local geriatric care manager is that elders usually don't want any of that stuff because they worry about the expense and the fuss. They don't want to (or can't) deal with it and they generally only make decisions when circumstances (not families!) force a decision. When the social worker stares an elder in the eye and tells them that they can move to a facility or they can have a visiting nurse with a 2x/week housecleaner, that's when the nurse & housecleaner suddenly become acceptable.

So Dad has (somewhat) politely and (very) firmly declined all help. He's not going to see any more doctors, he's not going to consider visiting nurses or grocery delivery, and he doesn't want help with his apartment. He's not going to add us to his checking account, let alone sign powers of attorney. He claims to remember that he didn't have much trouble executing powers of attorney with his father all those years ago when Grandpa was no longer able to live on his own. That may be true (maybe not) but Dad seems to have conveniently forgotten all of Grandpa's financial forensics and years of delinquent tax returns that had to be dealt with, too.

Even having me visit is a source of stress to Dad because he doesn't have a guest bedroom. He insists that I sleep in the master bedroom while he sleeps on the livingroom couch or in his recliner, and if I rented a hotel room then he'd be even more upset over the "waste" of the money. As far as I could tell from a two-day visit his hygiene, dress, diet, and apartment care are fine-- better than in my house.

Alcohol may be a problem. I grew up in a typical 1960s household where the end of the workday was marked with two or three drinks before dinner and a couple more afterward. While I was staying with him last month, Dad was still honoring that culture with 4-5 watery bourbons each afternoon. Even though it was probably just 2-3 shots over four hours, that's still a problem because elder livers don't process alcohol as quickly. But I don't know if he drinks like that every day or if he was just being "social". Hey, at least he doesn't smoke anymore.

I never thought of B12 and hypothyroid! And if he ends up at the doctor's for some other reason (even just a prescription refill) then he could talk about it. I'll have to bring those up in my next letter.

Good to know that the care managers understand the sensitivities behind our queries. I'll write the two who are available in his town and see what's available. Later this year I'll take a trip to check them out and maybe look at a care facility or two. The geriatric care manager who I spoke to here has been a world of help in understanding the choices, the vocabulary differences, and the significance. Their company name is "Ho'okele", Hawaiian for "navigator", and boy is that appropriate. Like tap-dancing blindfolded through a minefield.

I'm beginning to think that there won't be any real "progress" until Dad scares himself. It's going to be an accident or a medical crisis, or some stranger will notice that he's not able to carry out his domestic routine. And those are the "good" things that can happen.

It may be cold & cynical to say it, but I'm clearing my conscience. If Dad's not going to let us help him then the next-best thing I can do is to help prepare myself. I certainly don't want to be in charge of his life. I'll keep up the phone calls & letters so that he's accustomed to a dialogue. If he's complaining or concerned about something then I'll point out what he could do about it and offer to help, but I'm not going to count on him. Eventually he'll run out of choices, and that will be his choice.
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:44 PM   #14
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I am about to hop on an airplane to visit my 84-year old mom and deal with a similar problem with my mom. A few important differences, I think mom is mental in better shape, but I won't know tell we have the gerontologist due an evaluation. I am pretty sure she is worse physical shape, Macular degeneration, needs a hip replacement, bad back problems, and circulation problem and is in lots of pain. Mom has SO who has lived with her for 10 years, and has been very good caretaker, up until the last 6 months. He basically has told us that he would welcome help taking care of mom. My other sister was up there and says he is simply not physically and/or mental able to take care of her.

The irony is that she has been trying to get her current partner and before him my dad to move to senior living for 20 years, both absolutely refused consider it. So now we are facing the prospect of separating her from her partner and moving her to a facility in Hawaii. Of course now she tells us that it would just be overwhelming to move so she is going to stay put.

Nords and I have invested in the same Hawaii Healthcare company, God I hope this technology solution takes off before I get to be this age.. I don't have no kids and even if I did there just aren't going to be enough folks to take care of all of us seniors.

I hope my trips is my successful than Nords.
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:36 AM   #15
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It may be cold & cynical to say it, but I'm clearing my conscience. If Dad's not going to let us help him then the next-best thing I can do is to help prepare myself. I certainly don't want to be in charge of his life.
That's about where we are with FIL. DW and I done all we can, and all family says I've gone "above and beyond". He's still in the house and I (and the others) have resigned to the fact that he's going to be there until... whatever happens.
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:59 AM   #16
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Alcohol may be a problem. I grew up in a typical 1960s household where the end of the workday was marked with two or three drinks before dinner and a couple more afterward. While I was staying with him last month, Dad was still honoring that culture with 4-5 watery bourbons each afternoon. Even though it was probably just 2-3 shots over four hours, that's still a problem because elder livers don't process alcohol as quickly. But I don't know if he drinks like that every day or if he was just being "social". Hey, at least he doesn't smoke anymore.

I never thought of B12 and hypothyroid! And if he ends up at the doctor's for some other reason (even just a prescription refill) then he could talk about it. I'll have to bring those up in my next letter.
I think there may be a relationship between B12 deficiency and alcohol use in the elderly based on my uncle's experience. Since I'm not a medical doctor I don't know any more than that.

I know that my uncle did improve significantly for a while after the B12 shot and that about the same time they insisted he cut out all alcohol.

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Old 01-10-2010, 08:43 AM   #17
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Hi, Nords,

Quote:
It may be cold & cynical to say it, but I'm clearing my conscience. If Dad's not going to let us help him then the next-best thing I can do is to help prepare myself.
Reading your account, I am afraid this is the only option you have left.

It helps to talk about it and this is a good place. It is about the only thing you can do.

We had stubbornness in our aging parents, too, but things worked out better for us, to our great relief.

It is sad to learn of the estrangement from your family. Others on this board seem to have similar experience.

Good luck.

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Old 01-10-2010, 10:15 AM   #18
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Sorry to hear of your problems.
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Old 01-10-2010, 11:21 AM   #19
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I see this type of thing in the future for my parents. Dad is 83 and Mom is 81. Physically they are doing pretty good. Dad still drives, they go out to eat, shop for groceries, do their laundry. The changes I see are that in the last year they have reduced the scope of where they go to the main road that their condo complex is on and one or two roads that cross it. All their restaurants, stores and doctors are on this main road.

I live 45 minutes away (2 freeways with an interchange and secondary roads to my neighborhood) and this has become too difficult for him to manage. I respect that he knows his limits and will make changes to his routine rather than push himself beyond what he's comfortable doing.

They keep going. They push so hard to remain active that it's exhausting for him. My mother depends on him for just about everything. She's had lifelong depression and major problems with medications so the only choice left was ECT (electroconvulsive treatment - "shock treatment"). They've been doing this since 1998 and even at this advanced age she gets ECT every other month. These are low amounts. It keeps her from needing depression meds but she is nowhere near the person she used to be. My dad does not leave her alone.

We're not sure which one of them requires the constant activity (is he hyperactive/OCD or is she the one). It doesn't really matter, he's completely devoted to her so whatever she needs becomes his need.

He's always repeated himself so that doesn't worry me! He still uses his computer but not as much as before. He still cooks and cleans up. They have a housekeeper every 2 weeks but I know he picks up before she comes.

My mother has been very difficult to talk to. There is not much personality left. She has upper dentures and we can't understand her speech. My Dad says they don't fit her right and she refuses to go back to the dentist. She eats a ton and is bone-thin.

Their very strict routine includes eating out every day, either lunch or dinner. Mon, Wed, Sat lunch is the same place and they always order the same thing. Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sun is another place, always ordering the same thing. Dad always pays with cash, always tips generously. I think he's glad to have the same waiter or waitress who knows their order as soon as they walk in.

I've used the restroom after my mom in a restaurant and I've had to clean up after her. Dad tells her to "pull everything down" when she goes to use the restroom.

My mom also does inappropriate things in public. We all know that whoever sits next to mom at a meal has to monitor the serving utensils when she serves herself. She licks the serving spoon and puts it back so we gently redirect it and go get a clean one. At my sisters house (4 blocks off their main road, the only place they go that's that far) my mom used the half bath off the kitchen without closing the door. She will also say something loudly that's either out of context or rude ("That man has a toupee").

Just lots of little things that are adding up to a downhill progression. My Dad seems to be holding things together and they aren't asking for help. If he has to stop driving or either of them has a medical issue things could change very quickly.

My sister has already decided she will not be helping them. Old grudge. She says if Dad has to stop driving she'll give them a list of numbers for taxis and senior citizen transportation agencies.
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Old 01-10-2010, 11:48 AM   #20
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My parents are both dead, so I am (fortunately) not dealing with these issues. My father died of cancer before he was old, and my mother (who lived to almost 98) checked herself into a continuous care facility when she was in her 70's and still quite active and independent. That was wonderful - - we didn't have to worry about her there, and she got all the care she needed while being allowed plenty of independence when it was safely possible. A couple of years ago my brother, Bob, checked himself into the same facility at age 65 because he had some serious strokes. Among other problems resulting from the strokes, he has lost his short term memory. Now that he is in the continuous care facility, no more worrying about the effect his short term memory loss was having on many aspects of his life including when (and how many times) he was taking his medications. Whew.

I hope that all of us (including me) remember this thread and take action to do something about the problems of our own aging before they reach crisis level. It is never easy to face one's own mortality, and cost can be an issue but hopefully we can find our own solutions to these problems in our own lives so that our children and other loved ones are not faced with these issues and decisions.
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