Mom in our home - really difficult

gladgourdJune 9, 2008

I just discovered this site and I am so happy to learn that others are willing to talk about their situation. What a community this is!

Two years ago, we moved my mother-in-law in with us. We converted our family room into a bedroom for her. Its right next to the kitchen. Also added a bathroom for her. She is now 96+. She has dementia but not too bad. She knows us. Her grandchildren, she refers to as her friends. But she often forgets that they are her grandchildren.

I have two problems that I would like some help with.

1. She is somewhat incontinent and REFUSES to wear underwear. She has a bad arm and complains that she can not pull them up or down. I am at work in the day but we have hired a home health aid (paying for it all ourselves - she has no money) but she will not let the aid put them on her. The carpet in her room is ruined. This is a woman who was so fastidious (actually obsessive/compulsive!) that she used to bathe 2 times a day. Now she also refuses a shower. The home health aid gives her a sponge bath. Any thoughts on how to do deal with the incontinence issue?

2. How can we get a break? We know there is a respite program at a nursing home but she is terrified of that. She says "they rape the old ladies there." My adult children have given us a weekend respite here or there but we feel like we need more. Does anyone have any thoughts on that?

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asolo

Most older people know there are the "big three" that compel changes in living situations. 1) inability to drive 2) inability to walk 3) inability to handle personal hygiene.

Unfortunately each of the three are sometimes met with denial, resistance. Sounds to me as if that's where you're at.

People have different ideas about this. My own is that incontinence and resistance to accommodation must be met with insistence. She cannot be allowed her own personal choices in such matters. It's tough, but must be accomplished. She must be compelled to change or allow others to assist.

How to do? Different in every individual situation.

She is so very fortunate to have you to care for her. She must do her part.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 1:19PM
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agnespuffin

the respite program is usually a good idea. You will never be able to talk her into it. What you will have to do is to just take her there and leave her. She will probably find out that it's not as bad as she thinks. Alert the nursing home about the situation and take their advice as to how to go about doing it. You aren't the first one to be in this position.

Would she accept a tub bath instead of a shower? She could just feel so uneasy about falling in the shower that she doesn't want to take a chance, but doesn't realize that is what's happening. Draw the bath water, maybe with some good smelling bath salts in it, and then lead her in and help her into the tub. She may accept this from the aid better than she would from you. The trick is to have it prepared ahead of time and make it seem like something special rather than just a plain old bath to get clean.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 1:31PM
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stargazzer

If she is weak and you give her a tub bath, you need to know how to get her out of the tub. I've been there done that with my MIL and would never do it again unless my husband was at home to help her out.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 2:09PM
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ginnier

We had planned a cruise before my parents started having their issues. So we made arrangements for them to stay in an independent living place while we were gone for 10 days. They were very satisfied with it after they got used to it. Then, 4 months later when they needed to leave their home, they weren't too afraid of the move. The mgt. at the IL place said we were very fortunate to have "left" them there for 10 days since most people try only a weekend or so and that's not enough to get used to it AND be comfortable with the new surroundings.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 9:00PM
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gladgourd

Everyone,
Your responses are so helpful. Its good know that others are or have been in similar situations.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 9:54PM
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ginnier

We go thru each of these steps of helping our parents more and more, but there's always another level. My parents really need more care, but would they accept it??? I don't think so. So they continue to live in their little apt. and barely talk and rarely get out other than for meals and the occasional bingo or music night downstairs. But they NEED so much more. Will it kill them to not have that??? No, but they are slowly shrivelling up inside and I see it every time I'm there. So, the next step is assisted living or nursing home. I just cannot do that to them...there's a part of me that really believes that it won't really be that much different for them. Because they won't/can't invest themselves personally. So is this it for them in personal involvement??? Maybe this IS as much as they can invest, I don't know. I do know that if I go in there and say let's go down along the river and see the eagles, they go... But they can shut down other people more easily... Get my drift? Or is just cuz I won't take no for an answer....:)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 10:54AM
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ginnier

We go thru each of these steps of helping our parents more and more, but there's always another level. My parents really need more care, but would they accept it??? I don't think so. So they continue to live in their little apt. and barely talk and rarely get out other than for meals and the occasional bingo or music night downstairs. But they NEED so much more. Will it kill them to not have that??? No, but they are slowly shrivelling up inside and I see it every time I'm there. So, the next step is assisted living or nursing home. I just cannot do that to them...there's a part of me that really believes that it won't really be that much different for them. Because they won't/can't invest themselves personally. So is this it for them in personal involvement??? Maybe this IS as much as they can invest, I don't know. I do know that if I go in there and say let's go down along the river and see the eagles, they go... But they can shut down other people more easily... Get my drift? Or is just cuz I won't take no for an answer....:)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 11:13AM
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petaloid

Is there a way someone could go to her room every couple of hours and walk her into the bathroom, reminding her to go to the toilet?

If you haven't already tried to get her to wear the adult disposable diaper pants like Depends, that is something to consider.

She would not have to pull those up or down, just keep them on until there was someone to help her change them.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 3:35AM
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lindajewell

ginnier, tough situation for you, but keep in mind that MOST asst. living places only serve meals in a dining room. This would mean your parents would start to get to know other people. There are many activiies and outings all the time, which might inspire them to get out more. Just a thought...........

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 6:36AM
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wooderlander

My mother moved into a nice assisted living facility about a year and a half ago. She was resigned but angry and resentful at first though she knew she needed more care than she could expect living at home. She accepted it after we went to lunch there a couple of times, toured the facility and saw her apartment, and everyone was so friendly to her. I think she likes it now though she wouldn't admit it. She likes the regular meals, the attention, and some of the activities. She acts snobby about the other residents, but I think she has made some friends there. Her physical health definitely has improved. Recently she went from pathetically demanding more visits to refusing a lunch out with us in favor of the afternoon's activities at the AL facility: lunch, a party, and bingo. I saw this as a major step forward.

She has her little dog living with her and she enjoys the attention he gets as well. They have a trick that amuses whoever is watching. The dog knows the way down the hall and out the door when he goes for his walks. She says "Turn left, Edgar. Now turn right. Left again, Edgar," and he trots along as if he is obeying her. Very cute. If she were alone at home, she would miss out on a lot.

I think the key is to find a facility that looks attractive, with pretty grounds, and where the staff is friendly. Besides being nicer for the mother, this situation is so much more desirable to visitors who might be reluctant to visit a very depressing place. My mother's place looks like a pleasant hotel, and in fact it is run by a major hotel chain.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 3:20PM
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donnawb

I have been a caregiver for my DH for 10 years and respite is something that you should not do without. I didn't put my DH in respise for about 6 years and I was so burnt out (still have kids at home a 10 yrs old and two teens.

A caregiver can't forget to care for themselves and part of that is getting away from the situation.

I just found out that they do respise at home at times. My DH goes to the VA and I just saw a pamplet on that. I may look into it. I do believe the state has something like that also.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 12:19AM
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