Stubborn Dad

trav86January 20, 2011

He's 85 and completely on the ball mentally, but his mobility has decreased dramatically in the past year. He went from playing golf and driving to using a walker and hardly being able to move.

He shouldn't be living alone. He has a girlfriend (my mom died 3 years ago) and she's really lovely, but she isn't there all the time. She's also 75 herself, so she's not able to do a lot of heavy lifting with him, which he needs, because he can't get out of a chair without assistance and sometimes falls down, (even with the walker) and needs to be picked up.

He recently hired a home health aide, but she only works five days a week. This is his choice--he doesn't want to pay someone to be there seven days a week, even though he is very well off financially AND has long term care insurance to cover some of the cost.

I'm afraid that he'll fall when someone isn't around and really injure himself. He insists he's fine. Any suggestions?

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Be sure he gets a LifeLine-type alert system, and/or a cell phone to always have on his person. Make sure that neighbors know the situation, and that you're in touch. Otherwise, if he's ok otherwise, you just have to respect his wishes. Don't nag, just stay close. But get the alert button and ohone in place for him.

Are you close to where he lives? I understand your concerns, it's just that you can't push it to change things all at once.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 11:30PM
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Thanks for the suggestions! He has a cell phone, but I don't know that he takes it to the bathroom with him, for instance, where he could take a fall. I'll try suggesting he makes sure to keep it with him always. He lives in a doorman building in NYC and the doormen are very much aware of his issues, since he will often call them to help him put on his shirt and his socks! (Poor guys.) I also live in NYC and I see him about 3 times a week. If he had his way, he'd take me and my family out to dinner every night, but we have homework-laden teenagers and things we need to do ourselves.
My brother says we should leave Dad to his own devices and when things get bad enough, he'll ask for more help himself. (This is a convenient position for my brother to take, as he and my dad don't have a great relationship.) I guess you're right, sushi--there is no 'making' Dad do anything, but I feel almost as irresponsible as if were leaving a toddler alone. f

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 11:54PM
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I know exactly what you mean. The Lifeline alert buttons can be set up to call the doorman, and you, if he buzzes. Don't get one that only calls 911. Maybe you can see if he has a friend/neighbor who can help with the suggestion? What about the staff at the building, "You know, Mr. M, if you get one of those call buttons, you can let us know if you need help if you can't get to the phone." It sounds like you are close enough to keep an eye on things, good for you. Lots of 'kids' in your position live hundreds of miles away from a parent with issues like your father has.

If he's anything like my parents, he'll listen to anyone before he believes you, or as my mother would say "why do you think you're so smart?" but if she heard it from one of her neighbors, she'd believe anything. Sigh.

Do the doormen get very nice tips on a regular basis? ;-)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 12:20AM
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"....completely on the ball mentally...."

With respect....from your post, I strongly urge you to adjust your own thinking. "Completely on the ball" people don't fall down repeatedly and continually deny the obvious.

Putting any of these burdens on the building's doormen is an incredibly unreasonable expectation. That they've done it all should be a wake up call for you and would be for your dad if he was "completely on the ball mentally".

Seems to me things are further down the road than you and family and your dad are willing to acknowledge.

"I feel almost as irresponsible as if were leaving a toddler alone."

That's a valid feeling and a good description. It's exactly what you're doing as far as I can see from what you've written.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 8:09AM
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asolo, I agree with you, but what are my options? I don't think I can declare him incompetent, because by any measurable standard, he isn't. I've told him repeatedly that he needs an aide to be there for all his waking hours and that it's unreasonable of him to think that the doormen are there solely for his convenience. He claims that they love him and are happy to help him. Maybe he IS generously tipping them, sushi. I don't know, and I'm not in a financial position to do it myself.
Dad is in denial, no doubt about it. When he was still driving, my husband was in the car with him and Dad did an incredibly dangerous maneuver, passing three or four cars on a two way road. When my husband told me about it, I said to my father that no one in my family would get in a car with him driving ever again. If he wanted to kill himself, so be it, but he wasn't taking us with him. Dad doesn't drive anymore, but he STILL claims that the problem was that my husband ratted on him, not that there was anything wrong with his driving. (!)
I could try doing what my brother suggests and walk away saying, "you're making bad decisions and I won't be a party to them," but I don't know what that would solve. I feel extremely stuck.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 10:44AM
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"I don't think I can declare him incompetent, because by any measurable standard, he isn't."

True, you can't declare him anything. Only a court can. Or he can voluntarily submit. If he had all his marbles, you could describe and discuss the obvious shortcomings you've written here. Those are, indeed, measurable.

From what you've written, it seems clear to me that intervention is needed before a crisis occurs. It's just a matter of time.

You said he's got the money. Increased aid-time would be a small step and would be provide all of you with more safety, peace of mind, and regular feedback. Continual/regular assistance from the doormen is incredibly unreasonable to expect.

"I feel extremely stuck."

Yup...rough state of affairs. Shouldn't be required of you, but there it is. I would encourage more aggressive stance than you've taken to date. Seems to me the man's in more trouble than he is aware of right now....and it's going to get worse. Something bad is going to happen. He'll fall. He'll leave the stove on. Something.

You probably know him better than anyone. Do, please, consider intervention at some level. If you don't have POA, medical POA, living will, etc., please do get going on those, too. Perhaps a discussion about those could lead to discussion about the other issues. I don't know, but I'll bet you do.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 11:09AM
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Can you arrange a talk with his doctor? He may give you some good ideas as to what to do. Most doctors will stand back and wait for the family to do something. They really aren't in the position to insist that a patient get help.

I agree... it's only a matter of time until something bad happens. He's not playing with a full deck of cards. He just thinks he is.

I think he may be imagining how much the door men help. I can't see that they would be allowed to spend much time, if any, away from their regular duties.

Talk to the girl friend. She may be more able to get him to move where he would get more care.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 8:33PM
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