Elderly Parents

ginnierMarch 28, 2005

I wish I knew where to draw the line on whether my parents should continue living alone. I live 40 mi. away and visit several times a week to take them on errands and see to meds. At this point, Dad's many meds get taken properly most of the time (I call and remind Mom to give Dad his morning or evening meds). But Mom is less and less interested in fixing a decent evening meal; so they are both starting to lose weight even tho we go out to eat 3X a week, at least, AND there is plenty of fresh food and canned goods and frozen entrees. I am on the verge of moving in--I have stayed with them on occasion when they have been ill or needed me. Dad had a stroke in June and is really slowed down mentally; he confuses his days and dresses for church on Sat.--that type of thing. I'm beginning to wonder if he does not recognize when he is full; it seems like he's ready to eat again in two hours!! Between the two of them, they can usually handle the phone, the bills, light meals. They do get Meals on Wheels 2 days a week and that helps sooo much. They have a cleaning gal 2 days for a couple hours, which I am beginning to re-think. My intention was to have someone in the house to observe my folks AND do the housework, but Mom keeps them so busy that they don't really interact too much. I have wondered if Mom sends them home early but still pays them the full 3 hrs.... Mom has emphysema and is relatively sedentary altho her mind is bright, but she smokes and drinks. So it is hard to decide to put them in assisted living, because Mom would have to "suffer" the adjusting. Dad still wants to play a little golf (we'll see if he can handle it this year; he does have his public park golf pass and a new club...LOL he called and ordered them on the phone!!) and he goes to an exercise club and does some light exercise with a few friends (some days it's sounds more social than physical). Sooo, at this point I visit 3-4 times a week for several hours and most of those days I return home wondering if they really need more care. There's an issue once or twice a week: maybe Dad doesn't take his meds in the morn; mom has a spell of being super exhausted and is taking a nap at 9 a.m. As you know, there's lots of angles to this. I love them bunches and want them to live in their home as long as possible. But sometimes I think the social side of assisted living would be wonderful for them...and then other times, I think, Mom would still sit and watch game shows in her room and Dad would wander from friendly person to friendly person chatting about WWII and other big things in his life. Can anyone make sense of all this for me??

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Is there a senior center in their community where they could go a few days a week to socialize, play cards, etc.? Often those places have vans which will pick people up. Or are they affiliated with a church or temple that has a senior group? There is also adult 'daycare' which some people go to. It is a fine line to tread: not wanting to deprive them of their dignity, but also wondering if they are safe alone. Do they have friends they socialize with? Are there neighbors who can come by and check on them, and then report to you what they see? Could they get Meals on Wheels more often than 2x a week?

I would think twice about moving in at this point. Your intentions are honorable, but that is a huge adjustment -- for both you and your parents -- and not as simple a solution as it may seem. Their independence is no doubt very important to them. You do need to make sure they are safe, of course, but there are other steps you can take before deciding on a full-fledged move (for you or for them).

    Bookmark   March 28, 2005 at 2:59PM
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A personal note here.. My mother looked forward to going into a "home" of some sort. She thought it would be sort of like a hotel. No cleaning, food prep or grocery shopping and no yard work. She hated all those things and did not have any particular ties to her house. And that's what it was to her and my stepfather...a house, not a home. Perhaps, your parents would feel a little the same way. It might be considered a kind of relief to go to assisted living. Play up the positives of more social life, interesting people, things to do, etc.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2005 at 3:25PM
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They may not need Assisted Living. What about a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). They generally have all levels of care. They could probably have their own apartment and live independently for a while, get a little help if necessary, and move through the levels of care as needed. It's a wonderful concept, and if it's well done, they can be a great place to live.

The problem with having parents "live in their own house as long as possible" is that they become more and more isolated, - they aren't independent any more, they are prisoners. Their friends die or move away, they can't get out on their own, so they have to depend on family for running errands, etc. Pretty soon, you are their only contact with the outside world. Moving into a well run retirement community would give them a lot of social events, and socializing, as well as safety and security.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2005 at 7:36PM
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This is the same problem my husband is facing with his mother...the problem is when a couple does everything together and one of them passes away. The one remaining has to either decide to continue a social life or become increasingly more isolated. My MIL was never very social except for the friends her and my FIL had in common. My husband has decided to let her continue to do what she can while she can, but he continues to monitor her situation. However, she seems to do less and less all the time and wouldn't consider a senior center or anything comparable.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 2:09PM
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I think you need a social worker out there to talk to..

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 3:48PM
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You are doing the best you can. Your description of your situation indicates that you should keep doing what you are doing; help when you can, give extra help when needed, and monitor the situation.

Nobody ever said that helping aging parents is easy. Your experiences illustrate the point perfectly.

It sounds as though your parents are capable of rational thought and making sound decisions. If that is the case you can't force them to do what they don't want to do.

Your options are 1) continue helping or 2) stop helping. You're not going to stop helping. So just keep doing what you're doing for now. If things change you may have to reassess.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 12:44PM
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Do you suppose they may have figured it out over the last SIX years?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 1:17PM
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Oh my, how time has flown. Believe it or not, both of my parents have passed. I moved them to independent living in their hometown...that lasted a little over a year. But lst I went on a cruise with hubby and they "visited" the IL place for 7 days. That made the transition easier 4 mos. later. Dad's Alz. got worse, but they really had good folks around them, keeping an eye on them and taking care of them when things got out of hand. Then Dad started really wandering around the building, would sleep on the couch at the entrance way...spent a lot of time in the lobby "waiting for his ride to work" wearing winter coat in 90 degree weather! I brought them to my town's little nursing home...dad went to ALZ Unit and mom had a regular room (she was NOT happy) but she knew Dad was where he needed to be. It was bittersweet but for the best. I continue to peek in here and read thru some of the posts. I Sooo can relate to the problems and the tough decisions. So thank you all for your support and help. I'm so glad I was able to bounce things off you guys.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 8:39PM
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Well lookie there, Mr. Solo. 6 years 5 months later and the OP came back with an update in response to Jeff's post. Kinda nice to have closure on how her situation worked out, yes?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 1:58PM
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Certainly is nice she came back. I'm hanging on trying to care for 95 yr. old dad who had stroke 1 yr ago & mom who just got out of hospital week ago & is already trying to get off meds. for failing heart. Mom is very sharp about finances & failing some in other areas. Doesn't trust anyone,suddenly in her chair almost all the time, I have to bring in mail, water yards & fix meals. So nice to see this post & see how others handled it. I think I will have to get a live-in caretaker as mom can get difficult.Blew up because nurse was 45 min. late. Have Comfort Keepers 5 mornings a week for 4 hrs. but they can't give meds. & that might be necessary if I had to rush mom to hospital or call 911. Hoping to get lady that has lived with several people in our church & she knows when it is time to call family or 911 for final trip to hospital.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 2:41AM
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