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firemanswifeJune 9, 2008

I have lurked here for a while and since I am having a rough day I thought I would say hello.

This last November by uncle who is 67 moved in with DH and I. He is recovering from throat cancer and has had several TA strokes in the last month. When he moved in with us he weighed barely 120 lbs. He's now up to 165 and looks great.

I get no help from my family or his kids. The only time he hears from his daughter is when she needs money and I'm not sure his other daughter even knows he's living with us. I am 33 years old and I never thought we would be doing this. We don't have kids and I am just so used to having the house to just us and now it's the three of us.

This has been harder than could ever even imagine.

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You've taken on quite a responsibility. Do you think it will be temporary, until your uncle can find other living arrangements? Or are you thinking it will be permanent until either your uncle dies or must be admitted into a nursing home? What prompted you & your husband to bring your uncle into your home?

I can certainly understand how difficult this must be for you. At only 33 years old, becoming a full time caregiver is quite an adjustment. It sounds like between the cancer & the strokes, your uncle's health is deteriorating, meaning your responsibilities are increasing.

This forum is a great place to receive encouragement, so feel free to post whenever you need to vent, need advice, or just need a friendly word. Welcome!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 6:29PM
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No...I he's comes to stay! He sold his home and moved in with us. He showed up at our door in November. I was out of town at training when my DH called to say we had company. He owned his own welding business for years and when he sold it his kids drained him financially. He doesn't have insurance and never paid into social security. So needless to say we have picked up all of his expenses.
So far I think I have handled this pretty well except for maybe this last week. He is just now getting to the point where he can bath himself and doing more and more on his own. I am just SO tired then I feel guilty for being tired. I change sheets, I cook, clean, I go to all the doctors name it and I am tired!
Thanks for the warm invite and for being so kind!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 7:10PM
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Make sure your husband and yourself are really, really, really on the same page about it. This kind of stuff can trash an otherwise good marriage in no time.

Once that's done, get DH's family on-board pronto -- his job. And suggest/demand that he be somewhat insistent about it. If you're not able obtain any sharing of this burden, there may be other decisions to make.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 7:26PM
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May have misunderstood......sorry, if so.

If the uncle is your family's relation, getting "family" on-board would be your job, not his.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 7:44PM
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Since he doesn't have social security, I think he would be eligible for some sort of welfare payment and medicaid for his medical bills if all his funds are gone. Be sure to check into this as soon as you can as it sometimes takes a while to get it set up.

I agree that this is NOT fair to you as long as he has children of his own. However, I don't know the magic words to get them to shoulder the responsibility. Good Luck!!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 8:12PM
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I agree with Asolo about confronting the family about helping with his care. I know you see improvement since he's been with you, but you must realize that he'll eventually need quite a bit of care. It may become too physically, emotionally, or financially draining for you, and you'll need to plan ahead for alternatives and/or additional help.

Agnes is right about researching welfare & Medicaid. Every state, in addition to the federal government, has programs for the poor. Now is the time to look into all possibilities. It's better to be as prepared as you can before a major crisis occurs.

And it would be a good idea to see an elder care attorney so you can get all the legalities like power of attorney for finances and health care, along with wills, etc. settled before your uncle's health or mental capabilities have deteriorated. Especially since the rest of the family seems reluctant to help at all other than drain his finances.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 8:30PM
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We are working with our lawyer and our insurance agent to see if there is some way we can get him on our insurance. I am working with a company now that will help us with long term care for him.

The only time he hears from his daughter is when she needs money and like I stated before I don't even know how to contact the other one. My family hasn't been a whole lot better.

My DH and I have spent hours upon hours talking this over. This was a huge decision for us to take him in. My DH has handled this better than I have in a lot of ways. My DH has had to help bathe my uncle and do all the things that I am not comfortable with.

My issue now is I am tired. I run all the time. My DH is a full time fireman and his hours are so crazy that I don't have full time help from him. I have hired a high school kid to check on him through out the day while we are gone. He helps my uncle fix lunch and if he needs any errands run than he will help out.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 11:07AM
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Rough situation. Sounds like you're being conscientious about it.

Do maintain priority for yourself and your husband. If the time comes that you may decide you're over your heads, be prepared to acknowledge it, honor your priorities and go another direction. If it comes to difficult decisions, you must be prepared to make them. Your own lives are important, too. Your uncle is lucky to have you, but his needs cannot be allowed to take over your lives.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 12:18PM
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If the uncle still has good memory, where are all his legal papers. Does he have a record of the monies he has given to the "Give Me" daughter?
In going through those papers, you may find out how to contact the daughter, old letter or notes of where she's at. I would seek the advice of your attorney as to writing the daughters, inform them of the expenses, copies of the bills, and ask them to pay the bills and to reimburse you as you are taking care of his personal needs as to a place to stay, food, personal care and getting him to the doctor, etc.
I hope you can maybe get some help. Do you need to be with him on all his doctor visits? Do you have a service locally that transports seniors to appointments for free as a city service? I'd check with the city for possible services.
Also, check with the state for possible ins plans they offer for seniors. Also the council on aging could give you a lot of info. Just explain your situation and hopefully you'll get some help.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 3:28PM
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When he decided to sell his home DH and I went over to help him pack up his things. We live about 6 hours from where he's lived. No kidding, when we moved him it took 3 medium size boxes. He had nothing. We sold his little single wide trailor that is 20 years old for $9000.00 and I felt darn good about getting that much.
His daughter also lives close to where we moved him from. She has 3-4 kids by 3-4 different dads, she's on welfare, she's a mess. His other daughter isn't much different so I really don't expect any help from either of them.
When his daughter found out he had sound his house he called our home to get some of the $9000.00. Needless to say I lost it! This is all the money he has in the world.

When we moved him he had 3-4 pairs of socks, 2-3 pairs of undies and a couple pairs of sweatpants. That was it! I have bought him a bunch of new clothes, he didn't even have a bed. He was sleeping on a mattress on the floor in a sleeping bag. Now he has his own room that I have decorated, his own queen size bed and gets all the food he wants. Before he was living off of yogurt and bread. It's all he could afford. His living conditions were just heartbreaking!

We live in a small farming community and commute 45 minutes to work everyday. He's home by himself all day and does really well. He pals around with DH's uncle which is really nice. But as far as any kind of "services" for elderly we don't have anything.

He is learning to tie flies for fly fishing and that takes up a lot of his day. He learned to ice fish this winter with my DH and a bunch of his fireman buddies. He gets around on the 4-wheeler and walks quite a bit. He is very "healthy" for what he's been through and still enjoys a good quality of life. He just needs a lot of looking after. He help me with dinner, he likes to set the table and will help put dishes away. He still gets tired really easy and is cold almost all of the time.

He sounds really rough from having throat cancer and then having major surgery to remove it. He has completed chemo and radiation treatments. Last week we had a set back with the TA strokes but he seems to have bounced back really well. We have had to pay for all of his medical expenses which have set up back big time! We were going to break ground this fall with our new home that we have been saving for for 15 years and since he has moved in with us all of his medical expenses have taken most of our savings.

I am really lucky that he can do so much and is active but even with that he's a full time job and he keeps DH and I both very busy.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 5:04PM
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you need to immediately take steps to get him on whichever of the following you can:

Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, Welfare, etc.

Even if he had his own business he 'should' have been paying income taxes and social security.

You need to get him where he has some sort of income/insurance so that you are NOT financially responsible for his medical costs.

My DH has esophageal cancer and in the last year his medical bills have exceeded $250K (we have very good insurance). At 67 years old there are bound to be some government assistance programs out there for the uncle.

How was his medical treatment covered? you mentioned surgery, and radiation, I think.....somehow that got paid....


    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 8:09PM
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Yes it has been paid and my DH and I paid for it! He didn't pay into his business...don't ask!

I am trying to get him assistance through the VA for help.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 12:27PM
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With VA, there are a lot of benefits unknown - they don't advertise!!! Is he a disabled veteran? Did he retire from the military? Has he been re-evaluated recently? If disabled, he may qualify for an income. They do have a program through their social services where additional pay for in home care can be received.
I don't know who you are talking to there but have all your questions handy and go down the line. My husband is 100% disabled but we still had to ask a million questions to get where we are today. We had to get a state senator involved to get them to get moving instead of the standard response, "it's being reviewed". You do have to have all the information pertaining to his military records to get all the help he deserves.
You can also go online and search for veterans benefits. That helped me a lot to where I was better informed as to what to ask.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 5:36PM
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I just came across this wonderful forum in an effort to find a way to deal with my current situation. My mom has been living with us (my wife and three children) for the past three months and is diagnosed with severe dementia. It gets worse everyday. She has sundowners which means in the afternoon she gets aggressive and loopy, but she does not wander. My wife and three children can barely handle another minute of her. When she came here, we didnt know what we were getting into and the severity level was moderate. I have been unable to work due to the amount of care she needs and my wife has one foot out the door. We have found an ALF that is clean and peaceful. I took my mom there and she did not mind the facilities, however, she couldnt wait to leave. My dilemma is this: How do I get her to go? She will not go on her own volition and gives me guilt that "I want to throw her on into the streets like a dog." I have explained that being here in my home locked up in a spare room watching TV all day is the worst thing she could be doing. Her doctor explained that I am not, nor is my wife a professional and that she should be in an ALF. Of course, she does not remember even going to the doctor or visiting the facilities. This has taken its toll on me physically and is ruining my marriage. I feel like I almost have to take her, drop her off and run. I always told her I would take care of her in her old age and I feel like I have failed in that regard. She was intelligent, kind and generous and now she is harder to take care of all my children put together. I am sorry if I sound cold, its just that I'm tired and stressed out. Thanks for listening.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 7:19PM
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John, welcome to the forum. The members here are encouraging and helpful. Im sure you'll hear from others soon.

First of all, yours is not an unusual situation. So take heart, others have faced your dilemma. You had the very best intentions, but things just didn't work out. You should NOT feel guilty at all. Placing your mom in an assisted living facility, a memory care unit, or nursing home really IS taking care of her. You are NOT abandoning her. Just because your loved one is not in your home, doesn't mean you are not a caregiver.

You need to be careful about placing someone against their will, though. It sounds like your mom is beyond the ability to reason and make rational decisions. You're going to have to find a way to work around that. You probably should make an appointment with an elder care attorney to get some advice on how to handle the legalities and protect yourself & your family. (While you're at it, make sure she's got her will and powers of attorney for finances & health taken care of.) Also, you need to get your mom's doctor involved -- more than just an opinion during an appointment. Ask the doctor what steps you need to take and what he/she can do to help you. Contact your local county and state agencies on aging. Explain your situation and ask for help and resources. Do all this ASAP!

Most importantly, explain to your wife that you are actively pursuing an alternative living situation for your mom. And then, of course, do it!

If you had not taken your mom in, where would she be living? Does she have the finances to pay for assisted living?

Good luck, and keep us informed.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 8:11PM
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I think we have to deal with our parents like they dealt with us when we were young, some times they just made us do stuff that we did not want to do. When faced with mental defeciencies (I know that is not spelled right) we have to step in a gently force the play by talking with the doctors and if they agree, then just do it.

Hang in there and tell your wife you are working on it, just make sure you do!

Be prepared that attorneys are not always willing to draw up POA's and such when severe dementia is involved, you might have to "shop" around as they (the attorney) can be held accountable if some one should contest the POA.

Dementia is such a terrible thing to have happen and I am sorry your mom is going through this.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 11:05PM
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