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Elderly parents and staying in their home?
Old 09-16-2010, 10:53 PM   #1
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Elderly parents and staying in their home?

My father is 89 and my mother is 87. In their own home yet with father still driving. Up to mid July both did pretty well. My mother fell down a flight of stairs....broke her neck (C1, C2, and C5) and her shoulder and her collarbone and ribs and her elbow and a punctured lung. Two months later she is now back at home, not paralyzed, and beginning to function somewhat on her own again with help. My father knows it is time to move to a retirement facility, my mother refuses. My father is patient and cautious and for the 2 months she was in the hospital and in skilled care did just fine on his own. Now that she is again at home he is about done in trying to be her caregiver as are my wife and I. She just will not take care, be cautious, and listen to "rules" put forth to avoid another fall and re-injury or new injury. What does one do with a mother that just suddenly won't listen? What does one do with a situation where one parent will do the other one in with caregiving duties. How does one "teach" an elderly parent to slow down and be careful? Wow....sorry to share such stress but this is all new for me and I don't really know how best to approach the fact that if you don't exercise more caution you will end up out of your home and not in a retirement setting but in a nursing facility. Any input is appreciated. Someone must have been here and dealt with a similar situation. Thanks.
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Old 09-17-2010, 12:39 AM   #2
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We have been going thru a similar situation with my inlaws for the past 10 years. Similar ages, refuse to go to care even though they desperately need to.

All I can say is you can't tell them anything because they aren't going to listen. FIL finally died last year. MIL is constantly in and out of hospital due to accidents in the home, but no discussions can be held on the subject because she wants to stay at home. We told her we are fine with that as long as she is prepared to live with the consequences of her actions. That is, the next fall may result in a nursing home admission, at which time she may have no say as to what home she goes to.

It doesn't matter what you say it will have no effect. Interestingly it has taken it's toll on my SIL to the extent that she has started counselling. The counsellor told her she needs to remember that her purpose in life is not to make her mother happy and nothing she does will make her happy.

It seems as if everyone I know is going thru something similar so never think your situation is unusual. I think the big lesson for us has been to make sure that we don't end up in a similar position, leaving the decision to move to an aged facility to a date when we aren't really partcipating in the decision making process.
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Old 09-17-2010, 05:19 AM   #3
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Sorry to hear about that.

If they stay in the house... and have to use the stairs (inside)... consider getting one of those chair lifts.

They are only a couple thousand $ installed. You might even pick up a used one for free or for less on craig's list. However, you will need to get it installed and may need some additional parts to make it fit their stairs.

Even if they are only in the home for another year or so, it will make life a little easier and reduce the chance of accidents.
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Old 09-17-2010, 05:24 AM   #4
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You have my sympathy. MIL (84) has been having strokes for the past 8 years and is now confused, confined to bed/chair and doubly incontinent. FIL (89) has a heart condition and occasionally goes in to have some facial melanomas removed. Together with some people from the local social services department who come in 3 times a day, 365 days a year, he has become a full-time carer. It's heartbreaking to see - he has no life. We expect him to die first.

If FIL sold the house, he could move to sheltered accommodation and have enough money available to buy an annuity which would pay for MIL to move into a long-term care facility for the rest of her days.

None of this is having a good effect on DW, who makes a 20-minute international phone call to them every day when she gets in from work (thank goodness for VoIP), at the end of which she is often not in much of a state for a fun evening.
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Old 09-17-2010, 06:51 AM   #5
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Thanks for the input. Too bad this seems to be a bit common and on the other hand appreciate knowing we are not alone and it is not something we are doing or not doing. Proactive direction is to be prudent and careful in their own home yet while beginning serious search for a retirement communinty they would accept and afford and enjoy other people also in residence. Reactive direction is to not be careful, re-injure or new injury, and be forced to a nursing facility for one or both of them that they don't want and can't select over time and can't enjoy others around them. Too bad that as the only son I seem to have lost any and all input and suddenly am not appreciated for the extraordinary efforts put forth over the past 2 months. Oh well....guess I should have seen this coming somehow vs. being surprised. Again, thanks for any and all input as we are novices with attempting to help them manage through this and their actions are making it even more difficult. Yes....my Dad also has no life and is almost living like a servant in another time or place in history attempting to meet the hourly demands of being her caregiver.
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Old 09-17-2010, 06:53 AM   #6
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It is a shame. It isn't like they are thinking through the self destructive behavior. Emotional demands and/or dementia take away their ability to act rationally. DW's father is on a downwards Alzheimer's spiral. We thought he was in a great location that would last until he died (facility with independent living, assisted living, and Alzheimer's units). He had progressed to the Alzheimer's unit but now he has become a bit violent. He is temporarily in a hospital psych unit in an attempt to establish a meds regiment that will allow him to return to the Alzheimer's unit but if he continues to be violent he is out. He vaguely understands that he shouldn't have outbursts but he can't control it. So it is just wait and see at this point.

The most worrisome aspect is that any of us could go the same route. I always say I will off myself once I start down that road but I can see how much more likely it is that I would postpone that step until too late to get it done. Or the onset is sudden and traumatic. No good answers.
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Old 09-17-2010, 07:28 AM   #7
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Our situation is not quite as bad as what you describe, but still....

FIL, age 85, remains in his own home by himself subsisting on a small pension and SS. He had a hip replacement about five years ago. Lately he's become more unsteady on his feet and of course falls are a concern.

He still drives, although I am uncomfortable with that. He does limit his driving to locally during daylight hours so he's probably okay for that. A few months ago he needed a couple of new tires for the car and I refused to help with it, hoping that it would simply force the issue, but he received a tax refund on his property taxes which forestalled the inevitable.

A few years ago DW, I, and one BIL did a considerable amount of work on the house in preparation to selling it to get him into a continuous care facility as he is borderline needing daily assistance now. Now he's refusing to sell the house and move because he's terrified of nursing homes, envisioning nursing homes of the '60s, some of which were indeed places to be afraid of. So I can't really blame him for taking that position, although we've toured the place with him and he said he would be fine with it. But when it comes to actually doing it he won't.

Foreseeable outcomes:

1. He takes a serious fall and either dies or is completely incapacitated. No one has made any plans to deal with that contingency and family refuses to discuss it.

2. Slow decline continues, eventually forcing the issue.

So for now he's staying in place, slowly sinking at the rate of about $100/month on credit cards. For the moment DW goes over 2 - 3 times a week for a few hours to check on him, talk with doctors at appointments, do some cleaning that he can't do and so on. A bright spot is that one SIL just retired from 25 years of nursing and will now have time to help (and she will) but it's almost a two-hour drive for her and a 35-minute drive for DW so she does most of it.
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Old 09-17-2010, 07:32 AM   #8
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To the OP. As you can see from the responses you are getting, what you are going through is not unusual. Your parents are adults and will maintain their control and dignity at all cost. You really cannot make them do anything. That said there are ways of working with this situation.

I am speaking as a FIRED Geriatric Nurse, daughter and daughter-in-law who as been there and is doing that.
Don't go it alone. Get as many friends and family you have to pitch in with assisting your parents. The internet is your friend. The resources re. what to do and what you need is boundless. AARP is a good place to start just look for anything re. care giving. There are things you can do the make the home safer and you can find that on line also. Things like decluttering, securing rugs and lighting go a long way to make the environment safer. also a change in foot wear can help a lot. Try to anticipate needs and be prepared, meaning if there is a piece of equipment or home modification that is needed or soon needed do the research on it before you need to get it so your ready to go.

Your parent's Doctor may be able to put you in line with social service and rehab services that can help. A lot of times seniors will listen to "authority figures" like doctors before they listen to you and these folks can help you to get them to move to a safer environment. It is good to touch base with them to develop a plan.

Finally when all is said and done just know that you are doing and have done the best you can given the situation that way you have a clear conscience about your parents outcome. Some folks are easier to care for than others and so long as they have not been declared incompetent as adults they have the right to say no and must be consulted. This make live dicey for care givers but not impossible. Good luck and keep us posted.

http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving/

http://assets.aarp.org/external_sites/caregiving/
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:31 AM   #9
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Something for everyone here to consider is whether to get enduring power of attorney over your elderly relatives. Here, at least, FIL did the right thing and allowed BIL to have POA for him and MIL. So although he refuses to face up to his physical limitations, he has at least accepted that his marbles may go one day.
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:33 AM   #10
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Hi , I went through the same thing with my Mom who lived far away . She was relying more & more on my Aunt who lived next door .I hired a home health aide . She balked at first but we held firm . It worked out great . The woman only cost $17 an hour and she did everything . She would take my Mom to her appointments , food shop and do whatever we asked her to do and she treated my Mom great . This took a huge burden off my aunt . We also got my Mom one of those buttons which made her feel secure . That would also allow your Dad to leave her home alone without worrying . She also a irrational fear of Nursing Homes . That seems to be pretty common in older folks now . Good luck with whatever you do . It is not an easy task.
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:40 AM   #11
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We faced a similar situation with my Mom declining with Alzheimers and it taking a toll on Dad. While they still were refusing to move to a continuing care community, we did convince them to visit some and to put their names on a waiting list. In the meantime, Mom's sister and two other couples they knew moved in to one of the places they had visited. They began visiting there regularly and eventually agreed to move in. Mom shortly was transferred to the Alzheimers unit but dad lived quite happily in the apartment for 4 years, until his death from lung cancer.
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Old 09-17-2010, 09:01 AM   #12
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I have gone thru this aging and health issue with 4 parents now (mother, father, step mom, mil) and currently I cannot enter 1/2 of my house freely because we have to totally lock/encase my MIL into the lower area of the place because of her Alzheimers (sigh) - otherwise she "escapes" and walks miles in the night & gets lost & the police/sheriff end up on our doorstep...

While seniors have their rights to stay where they want, occasionally a strong "push" from family members will help. My father & step mom had a similar relationship - she had alzheimers & dad had terminal cancer & was very sick. They refused to leave/change, but were "clawing" each other to death almost, trying to continue their present independent lifestyle. My Dad was so distressed, he was ready to leave SM, so I put him on a plane to my Brother in Oregon & after that, convincing SM to do the same was a lot easier. Once she was "abandoned" so to speak, we kept reminding her she needed to be with her husband & even with the Alzheimers, it did the trick. She willingly flew to Oregon also. They both ended up in nursing homes, but Dad was so mad after all that, we had to use separate homes for them. Dad died 2 months later....

My MIL had been living alone in a large family house that could be the Poster House for "HOARDING". Piled high with garbage & possessions & other nonsensical collections that is typical of Alzheimers. She refused to even consider Senior housing, despite begging by her kids. She refused to leave. We were lucky that she eventually made DH her POA and then with a little "push" (Let's go now!) we brought her home to our house where she lives today (ultimately, I think nursing home is in the future) and she totally does not remember her old home. We have Care Providers come in 4 hours a day & she does not know they are hired help...just thinks they are her "friends" coming to visit.
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Old 09-17-2010, 10:11 AM   #13
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I agree with some posts.... if the situation is so dire that it affects the health of FIL... someone... SOON... must push MIL to move... if this means going to court to get conservatorship over her, so be it...


I started with my mother when she was 83... I told her she needed to start looking for a place to move that could help her... she told my sisters I wanted to put her in a home.. but all I wanted was for her to start to change her thinking about living in a place that she could not keep, that was in a bad part of town, that was falling apart around her... it too a few years but she finally decided that she would be ready when she turned 88 or so...

We did look a retirement homes, but all were a lot more expensive than she wanted to pay, but she agreed to go to one... then I found a highrise condo and we bought a 1 BR... she loves it... she also saves $2K per month on fees... she will be turning 91 in a bit over a month and no plans to move her now that she is in a place she can handle.. but, if she can not, I do not have any problem in forcing the issue...
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Old 09-18-2010, 01:34 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by MovingtotheCove View Post
What does one do with a mother that just suddenly won't listen? What does one do with a situation where one parent will do the other one in with caregiving duties. How does one "teach" an elderly parent to slow down and be careful? Wow....sorry to share such stress but this is all new for me and I don't really know how best to approach the fact that if you don't exercise more caution you will end up out of your home and not in a retirement setting but in a nursing facility. Any input is appreciated. Someone must have been here and dealt with a similar situation. Thanks.
You can't do anything for your mother, but you and your father have options.

I got a lot of help by visiting a company that helps solve these geriatric-care problems. Usually they get called by an elder's adult children from the emergency room or by the police, so they'd be delighted to talk with you before things get worse. During the first hour of consultation a good company will help with sympathy, validation, and their advice of how the process goes. It's even worth paying their hourly consulting rate.

I learned that there's really nothing I can do for my father, but I can ease the way for myself by identifying the companies I'll call after I get "the call". In the near future my brother and I are also going to visit a couple facilities with memory-care units so that we can line up the short list for the day our father can't live independently.

Your dad could take the approach of hiring someone "to help him", which might encourage your mother to play along without feeling as if she's giving up any of her dignity.
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Old 09-18-2010, 02:54 AM   #15
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No big surprise our parents aren't going to listen when they read news articles like this one :

USATODAY.com - Havens for elderly may expose them to deadly risks

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All I can say is you can't tell them anything because they aren't going to listen.
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Old 09-18-2010, 02:03 PM   #16
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Thanks for all the input. Wow...seems like many are in similar situations. Well....one day at a time and a big dose of patience. Seems as if I recall my parents both saying they would never get to the point that either their parents got to in needing help or siblings needing help and not realizing they do but somehow they have now arrived at that station on the train of life and they don't see it. I guess we will keep hoping for a bit of luck and perhaps a bit of input from professionals or other similar aged friends that see it and maybe, just maybe, we will have them see the dangerous path they are on. Again, I never imagined so much stress could come to an only son and DIL trying to help out but just not getting very far.
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Old 09-18-2010, 06:37 PM   #17
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After reading all these posts, I'm very grateful to my parents. Dad 90 and mom 86 moved into a retirement community 8 years ago of their on accord. They're in an appartment and they can get help or move into the nursing section as needed. It's simplified their lives greatly. They eat supper in the dining room and get their own breakfast and lunch. The facility has a bus that provides transportation to the local grocery, drug store and shopping center. They also have optional day trips. My Dad was always a planner and this was just a natural progression for them. Some of their friends are having the problems I've read here.
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Old 09-18-2010, 06:56 PM   #18
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MIL passed away about 3 weeks ago after spending roughly 6 mos in a nursing home after the final stroke (#4). FIL went to the nursing home yesterday simply because he is as weak as a kitten, confused, and clearly unable to care for his own basic needs any longer. As their home is 6 hours away, DH has logged many miles this summer checking on them and doing for them. Fortunately FIL was still capable of executing a POA so at least their business affairs are being addressed.

At some point, you use their resources to hire the help they need to stay independent, and when that's no longer an option, you insist on the assisted living facility or nursing home. Good luck with your situation.
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:28 AM   #19
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After reading all these posts, I'm very grateful to my parents. Dad 90 and mom 86 moved into a retirement community 8 years ago of their on accord.
My mother did the same thing and it worked out well for her. She had an efficiency apartment, lived there 11 years and she loved it. She cried when the house she'd lived in for 40 years sold, but six months later said "I wish I had done this ten years sooner". It often took several days to reach her on the phone because she was out running around so much.

That's much of the reason that DW and I are so open to the idea. "God willin' and the creek don't rise" there will come a time when neither one of us wants the bother of taking care of a house and that looks like a good direction to head. All the privileges of adulthood and few of the responsibilities.

The down side is that one is then locked in to a specific geographical location and we're not ready to make that choice permanent yet. DW's closest sister is making noises about moving close to us in WV, her husband wants NC. Since I like warm weather and NC was my preferred retirement location anyway, I've told DW it would take about a half ounce of arm-twisting pressure to get me to move there.
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Old 09-28-2012, 04:16 AM   #20
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An old thread with a happy ending update....my parents, now age 91 and 89 finally realized they could no longer manage alone in their home. Steps were a large factor. More worries and room than they needed. We began touring/searching alternatives in April 2012. Looked at independent living and assisted living. We found it interesing that some independendent living locations frowned on a couple that age giving it a try...worked to get us to assisted living right away or perahps a hybrid of partially assisted living. My parents made the decision on their own. Selected a wonderful 2 bedroom super nice independent living all on one floor duplex with their own front door and own garage (Dad still driving!), signed on, moved June 1, listed and sold home and closed September 7. Good neighbors, good activities, good and safe set up with all they need....very spacious. Wow...they now only think of this as "home"....looking to the future and not the past...how did we finally get so lucky after so many years of wandering? My DW and I simply backed off and "helped" them survive in their home a little less....we did our thing, let them fend on their own a bit more,and stopped enabling them the ongoing ability to live alone in their own home with all the pitfalls they now avoid. What an improved situation for all!!
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