Parents are still 'on their own' but

ginnierOctober 20, 2005

between the two, they are one. Where Mom is stronger mentally, Dad is stronger physically...they are in their 80's and live in their own place. I visit every other day or so and try to take them out and about for errands and lunch out. When they were still driving, they ate just about every lunch out. Luckily they have agreed to have 3 hot meals a week brought in which also includes sandwiches for the lunch even tho it somewhat "blah" for Mom's taste. She is my problem child, she makes jabs at things, whether it's about a waitress, or about my decision to go to the groc. store and THEN the library...I think she's a bit of a controlling type person. She usually says NO to my suggestions before I have even finished my speel! There are plenty of times that I can get her to listen to reason, but I am ready to "encourage" them to go to assisted living. How do I do this???? She says he'd never go and he says she'd never go. They are a pair!!! Mom would have to change a lot of little habits, like her couple of drinks in the evenings and her smoking habit. She is also used to sitting at the kitchen table all day with the phone right behind her, the bay window in front of her to watch the neighborhood and then the TV's right there too... How do we transition to assisted living!!!

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"Transition"...that's very kind. In my experience it's always a jolt.

Notwithstanding your own issues with them, are they safe? Can they manage themselves and their household at a reasonable level? If they've stopped driving on their own, I'd say that indicates a considerable level of awareness on their part. Wondering if they may be more open to other rational considerations at the "right" time. Suggest first step must be comfort and clarity in your own thinking about that. Is this the time or are they OK for now? That was hardest for us. The rest seem to come more naturally.

I've always found some difficulty within myself and other family members separating our own desires from what's really in the older person's interest -- they get all mixed up because of the emotional connections among us.

Hopefully, when you feel the time has come, it can be presented in a way that sort of speaks for itself. A way that they can grasp as good and rational from their own point of view. A way that makes it "their" decision as opposed to their feeling compelled and imposed upon.

Difficult thing. I wish you well.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 4:22PM
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Thanks for your insight...I feel that for the most part they are safe. But in an extreme instance, I fear their decision making capabilities would be weak. There's always a can of soup to eat--their pantry is full! And so is the freezer. As usual with this age group, it's not an issue of having the food, as much as will they fix it, or just get out the p.b. and crackers??? Well, if one of my folks were to fall and knock their noggin, the other would be able to call 911...not that they could get them off the floor onto the couch. I do believe they could call for help. Part of my angst is that they are rather isolated in their home. They are "lively" enough that if they did live in assisted living, they would be able to make some new friends and be challenged by the caregivers there to do some new things. I try to encourage them to consider this side of things, but they just cannot make themselves move. What would they do with a houseful of furniture and other items? How could they live in one or two rooms????? That's what they ask me... I say, they would adjust to the changes, just like they have adjusted to the changes in their health and the resulting limitations over the past 15 years. I kno. Easy for me to say. I wonder if I should get them on a list somewhere... Every time I am with them, I want so much more for them, and they just don't "get it"... Mom is just starting to really feel the isolation; she watches Dad go off for coffee with a few friends or to the exercise club 3X a week. She cannot go and her friends no longer call...Sad. That's one more reason why I go and take them around. I am their entertainment... for what it's worth, LOL Vent, vent, vent. I know there's no absolute answer. And I am very thankful that they are able to care for themselves as much as they do.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 4:55PM
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Ginnier, I don't know where you are located, but there are plenty of things available before they get to needing assisted living. Assisted living assumes need with medications, bathing and dressing, and general care. For many years, my parents lived in a Seniors' apartment complex. The rent included meals (one place was continental breakfast plus either lunch or dinner, the other place was 3 meals a day), weekly maid service including changing beds and washing sheets and towels, community bus service for appointments. There are lots of common rooms, including a chapel, library, crafts room, bridge, bingo, exercise equipment, movies, etc, but the residents have their own individual apartments.

Depending on where you are located, agencies like Alliance on Aging have lists of local facilities ranging from nursing care to assisted living to senior retirement homes.

It does not sound like your parenst are anywhere near ready for assisted living, but it is time for you to learn everything possible about all resources in your community. One can never have too much information!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 5:23PM
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I agree with Fairegold. Assisted living is a big step and there are a bunch of intermediate steps you can take before you get to that one. Do they need assistance in the home, such as housekeeping? Contact your local senior center to ask for information. There are even volunteers that will come and just visit for an hour or two, or call on the telephone.

I often felt like I was my mother's one person entertainment committee. She had no interest in participating in the senior center activities. She did have people she talked to on the phone and before she broke her hip, she used to take the local bus downtown and she enjoyed that. But sometimes they are content to just be at home. *WE* are not content watching it, because it's not what we would choose, but it is their life.

I think sometimes too, seniors don't want to venture too far away from home because of bathroom issues and the fear of not getting there in time, etc. Most likely that's not something they'd voice, but my cousin clued me in to that one.

I used to try to get my mother to move into senior housing, because she was paying so much money in rent, stairs were an issue, etc. But then she got sick and ended up in a nursing home. When I cleaned out her 6 room apartment (24 years of living, and some boxes had never even been unpacked from when they moved in in 1980!), I realized it would have been a battle BEYOND frustration to get her to make decisions on what to keep and what to pitch. And sometimes, the trauma of moving isn't worth it UNTIL and unless it's really necessary.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 10:33AM
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I just know that Mom is excited to be outdoors and go for a ride and a few errands and that lunch out. Then it's like oh i'm soooo tired, i just can't do anything more, and she really is tired. But mentally she makes herself get out and about for those errands and then her body sorta overrides her exuberance (unless she's seated and enjoying chatting with someone over lunch). But if she's bored, watchout, let's go ginnie, now! It's a funny tie between the exhaustion and the control. She can also be sorta embarrassing to waitresses and clerks at times, and I have shushed at dr.s offices when she has to wait over a half hour. I just cannot believe that she doesn't think she has to wait her turn!!! I try to tell to behave and she'll get a sucker when we leave...hehehehe Sometimes she laughs and rides above it, and sometimes she tells me (lightly) off. This week in the car, I told her before the appt. that I wanted her to remember to mind her manners and pleasantly wait her turn...this particular dr. is notorious for and hr. and a half wait. When she started to complain too loudly, I told her that I'd leave her to walk home if she didn't quiet down. She swore, but she quit it. I just have to learn to time my warnings, sometimes I'm too late and she just boils over. Luckily an hr. later we wr both crying and apologizing, but she said some mean things about me that will always be there. We both want to be in control, but we both are trying to cater to the other's wishes at certain times. My dad is very easy going and almost quiet these she has the added burden of trying to keep him doing his little chores around the house. He is just now beginning to feel like she's bossing him constantly and it's getting his dobber down, so to speak. He had a stroke 6/05 and is very silent these days, reflexes are very slow, speech and large motor skills are fine. Oh, it could be worse... and probably will be

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 2:45PM
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Does your area offer 'sr. citizens' apartments/communities? If so, perhaps that is what they need if they are still 'independent'. My Great aunt lived in one for several years - breakfast and lunch were provided, light cleaning once a week,transportation to church, Dr., mall, 'field trips', playing bridge, dominos, bingo, etc. Can you get 'meals on wheels' for them?

Her utilities were included, had to pay for phone/cable, etc.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 8:31PM
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Oh, Ginnier, I have to laugh about how your mother is a lot like mine. She'll complain loud enough to be heard. In a restaurant (before she got so frail), if the hostess said it would be a few minutes before our table was ready, Mother would sort of lean over the hostess's podium, and ask again. She got seated faster. And it was even better if we had no reservations at all, too. I'd just shrug my shoulders at the hostess, and they'd know it wasn't me, but this tiny very old lady, they figured they could shut her up fast instead of ignoring her.

Look at it this way, you're not the one making the behavior. You get to sit back, shrug your sholders to the people in the room as if to say, "What can I do? She's a grown woman". But it isn't your embarrassment, not at all. You're along for the ride.

And it sounds like Barker's Great Aunt was in the same sort of place that Mother and Dad have lived in for years. It's a good sort of place. And it gets the people to start cleaning out their homes and disposing of things on their own terms, not you doing it on an emergency basis.

Like I said, start looking around your community to see what is available.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 8:42PM
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