The challenges of elderly parents

Aliska - posted on 07/01/2010 ( 8 moms have responded )

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My parents are in their 80s and live about 2.5 to 3 hours drive away from us. I am their only child. My family is the only close family they have. They live in a small country town. I can see that they are not coping so well on their own but don’t know what to do about it.
My father never considers anyone’s opinion, preferences etc but his own and is adamant that he won’t move. He wants to die there. The small town has a nursing home which he says he’ll go to if he needs to. He refuses to acknowledge that there are many steps between living independently and requiring nursing home care. My mother would love to move closer to us but can’t if my father won’t agree.
My mother was never the world’s fussiest housekeeper but over the last few years she’s gotten worse and worse. My dad is traditional and doesn’t think he has to do housework. The floors are filthy, plates dirty even though she’s ‘washed up’ etc. It’s hard to tell how much is deliberate, her protest at having to live somewhere she doesn’t want to and how much she just doesn’t notice.
They are also getting more stuck in their ways, grumpy etc which I know is normal for their age but this coupled with the state of the house means that none of us look forward to visiting them. Now the kids are older there is no excitement about going to the country and they hate the state of the house and the pettiness/grumpiness of their grandparents.
We would like them to move closer to us. We could then support them to stay living independently as long as possible by helping with shopping, maintenance etc. They would see more of all of us and the kids could pop in and out for short visits which suits their lifestyle better. When the kids were younger they would often go up for a week’s visit in the school holidays but they don’t want to do this anymore as they don’t see their friends, don’t have internet up there and also school-work and part-time work means that they are tied to the city where we live.
My mum would be so much happier in the city near us and I suspect a lot less grumpy and a little more motivated with housework etc as she would be happier in herself. My dad will not consider a move but refuses to acknowledge the problems of living so far away without family support. Conversely he would be happy if we moved to be closer to them which isn’t an option as we love our house, the kids are settled in school and I have a very good job. We would like them near us but don’t have the room or the patience to have them live with us and I don’t think they would want that either.
What are others’ experiences with the challenges of older parents? Any ideas, stories would be welcome!

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Christina - posted on 06/17/2013

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My husband about 7 years ago talked me into buying his 70 year olds mothers home after his father pasted away from cancer. It has been a nightmare for me and are 5 yr old twin daughters .my mother in law was a RN all of her life. After retiring about 20 yrs now her husband got sick she came up with a story telling everyone she had leaukemia later friends and family found out she had not had this at all. Over the last 20 yrs she has misused medications, falling, talking crazy, seeing things, laying in her bed in large amounts of fecal matter, removing fecal matter from herself, disposing of fecal matter on her floor, counters, in her closet etc... When she final comes around from being on a stone for about a week no one besides myself tries to make her own up to misusing meds. I have had several conversation with dr about these issues of meds he gives her.recently i sent her to hospital for doing just what i described above. I was called names, liar, big mouth and a mean nasty woman. I told hospital and dr she needed a psyc eval and tested for use of to many meds. Never tested her for to much drugs and waited 2 days for psyc eval. Psyc dr stated she had anxiety but didnt recognize she was hallucinating the whole 4 days while in hospital . Because she is her own poa she can leave and come back to are home. I told her and my husband i do not want her here any longer. I have been a stay at home mother for last 5 1/2 yrs and have had to deal with this on a monthly basis.my husband told dr he didnt want her coming home on any meds for anxiety, pain or sleep. Dr stated ok he would discontinue them, turned around and prescribed all new anxiety,sleep and pain meds. Mother in law has always self medicated when she would take all of these meds up before her 30 or 90 days was up with Benadryl not just one or two but 6 or 7.or any sleep aides she could get her hands on. At one point we had taken theses meds away but she would go threw are room and take some out of every. Bottle. And she would stockpile them so she could take all at once. I and my children are here and my husband is gone most of the time. She is like alittle kid where after she comes down she tries to maintain she does nothing wrong and doesnt take anything the dr doesnt prescribe. The 911 thing hasnt worked and because my husband told her she can't have any of these meds or over counter stuff either she now is hiding allergy pills in her drawer.i told him both his momand dr have slapped him the face thinking he is ignorant or myself. I have decided 1st time she is out of it i will call adult protection and have her removed from the home. This is a very difficult situation for anyone and i hope you think about it before taking one in if they can not control themselves with meds

Jonell - posted on 03/17/2012

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My father-in-law has COPD. he is 79. My husband works out of town 5 days a week and at time more. His Father John lives in our home. It's like taking a page of my life spread out into everyone's post. The 1am runs to the ER, just to find out he ate 3 bags of cookies he talked the neighbor lady into picking up for him. I've been to the Doctor with him or ER 91 times last year. There is always something. I guess I'm luckier then most. I do not work outside the home and my children are grown. We have a small farm and my job consist of chores every morning and every night. John will not cook for himself, so any meals must be prepared for him. He drinks 24 cups of coffee a day( he makes himself) I do not drink coffee. Therefore if he wants it he has to do it himself. He is very healthy for 79 with copd. I've been gone from breakfast to dinner on several occasions, hoping he would make himself something, anything, but upon returning to the home asking have you eaten today, he just say Oh no I did not think about it. He poor little dog bouncing off the walls to be let out, so she could do her business. He scares me with heart attacks, overdoses, kidney stones, etc. episodes. I try talking to my husband about the issues I have, but am told to just deal with it, he has been like this for years. John has 7 children, 15 grandchildren. We live 40 miles from town were most of them live. Only 1 grandchild comes to visit. In over the 6 years he has been here. Only 1 daughter calls. It is sad. I call my parents every week, I fly to see them twice a year, or more if they needs me. There are times he is outside wondering around the farm, tinkering with things, feeding the chickens and then times he takes to his bed, TV remote in hand and stays in his room. I've been told it was my fault he does this, because I unknowingly enabled him with my Mother Hen approach. It's how I treat my parents. They just did not take and inch and stretch it into a mile.



It was so comforting to see your post, knowing I could jump right in and be welcome, no judgement. Knowing you know how weary it can become.



Thanks

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Being an only child also I went thru the same thing with my Mom. My Dad had passed away in 1999. Mom had asthma/emphysema (C.O.P.D) and did not want to leave out of her house. The only places she went after Daddy died was to the Dr by way of me taking her. From 2005 - 2008 she was in the hospital numerous times then they'd send her to a nursing rehab facility to get her strength back. Finally in Sept of 2007 I made the decision to sell my condo, quit my job and move in and take care of her. I was divorced but did have a relationship going on and he agreed with me so off we went. Between the two of us we took care of her so that she always had home to come back to and she died at home as she wanted. It is hard. It drains you. Mom had a way of "crying wolf" so the day she died I didn't realize this was really the end. She was picky and had to have things her way. Make her a sandwich and chips and pickle she would tell you to GET RID OF THAT PICKLE! Bring her a pudding cup with a stainless steel spoon.....NO YOU KNOW I WANT THE WHITE PLASTIC SPOON (and no not a party plastic in red or anything but white......that kind of picky. I loved her dearly but near the end it was really hard getting her to and fro the bathroom etc. It will wear on you. She didn't have dementia but she would sleep 3 hours and be wide awake and I'd be frying an egg for an egg sandwich at 2AM. No sense of time and because she could not walk steady you we had to take shifts to sleep because 3 hours and she was raring to go! After she passed I (who had always been healthy) found out I had gall stones, fatty liver, inflamed esophagus and already knew about the high BP. I would eat at all hours to stay awake. Gained quiet a few pounds. She lived until Nov. 2008 so we had taken care of her for 15 months. R.I.P. Mama

Aliska - posted on 07/15/2010

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@Louise,
Your mention of the clutter made me smile. My dad is the same, they moved to their current place in 1974 and I believe he's got stuff in the garage he's never unpacked!!!! He has stuff everywhere cos it's too good to throw out and might come in handy one day! And because they are on a couple of acres or so there's plenty of room for crap!!!! My husband and I have no idea how we are going to sort through it all, all we know is that it's going to be a big job!

Abbie - posted on 07/02/2010

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UGG the dreaded desisions. My thoughts are as follows, I have worked with elderly in home settings, nursing homes, assisted living, & memory care. No one wants to leave their homes! It means losing control. Also as we age we are more set in our ways, crappy but still true. You can't force them to move unless by chance they are putting themselves in danger somehow. I don't know where you live, but I am going to assume you are in the states, I live in MN, here you can call the county they reside in and have them checked by public health to see if they would qualify for some sort of help/ assistance. They can get help with grocery shopping, trips to the doctors, weekly showers........see where Im going here?

Not all elderly people are grumpy, that is usually a sign of something else underlying. Unless he has always been a crab. It is also the loss of ability to do things they used to be able to do.Health plays a HUGE factor also.Are both parents of sound mind? Do they pay their bills? Not leave the stove on? Know the year and who is president... things like that? Ultimately you can't make them move but you can try to change their minds, what about MOM coming to stay with you for a week, maybe he'll miss her and see her brighten up and want to move closer. What about tugging at his heart, tell him the kids would love to see them more but they are just too far away and that they would still have the chance to live independantly in a facility. I work at a senior housing/ assited living and we have many people that live there that we do nothing for.

Feel free to email me regarding any of this

Betty - posted on 07/01/2010

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oh i forgot one thing.... if they let you come and clean.. throw away the junk as much as you can.. omg my dad save every newspaper for years i swear..go through things and get rid of things they dont want or need if you can.. maybe it might get your mom in the mood to make the house better too..

Betty - posted on 07/01/2010

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omg my father was the same but i only lived a few mins away from him but he wouldnt let me clean or help out in the yard. he was bullheaded.. he had some health issues which got him in a home care place and that made him so mad..it was hard to visit him cuz he was angry at everyone period..he felt i was takin away his rights .. i under stand now what he meant .. he was loosing his control of his self.. it is hard when your parents get to the age that they need help.. my father has past away since... all i can say is be patience and understanding.. time will come they are no longer here.. so do what you can as long as you can.. i know the dirve maybe a bit right now.. take a day once a week and go clean and just talk to them... just explain i want to make things easier for you not take away from them.. that may not work but just remember ... how would you feel if all of sudden you couldnt live with the freedom you have now to come and go as you please.. driving gets hard for them cuz they cant see.. cleaning the house is hard cuz sometimes they get depress and feel their age. i going to be 50 this year.. i look at my life.. sorta gets depress thinkin how my body hurts when i do yard work or cleaning the house.. just talk to your mom.. find out what you can do to help her make things easier and you might just have to drive the distants to just clean or do yard work.. be patience.. when they are gone you miss the things you wish you could do for them .. bless you

Louise - posted on 07/01/2010

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I understand what you are saying. My in laws live hour and 20 minutes away and want to come around every weekend quite frankly because they are bored. My father in law drives here and falls asleep in the chair the entire time. My mother in law is 74 and still works part time in a supermarket I think just for something to do. When one of them falls sick it is quite a trudge to their house and not a journey you want to do every day with a toddler. Like you my father in law will not move because quite frankly he could not be bothered to get rid of all the clutter they have accumulated over th 50 years they have lived in the house. We have asked them time and time again to move closer because like you my husband is there only remaining child so responsible really. I have three kids ranging from 18 to 20 months that are all settled and in college and university courses. It is time to move now before something happens and my mother in law would but my father in law wants to stay. When one or the other of them dies they will leave the surviver with one hell of a job of sorting through all this clutter and believe me there is a lot. The loft is so full that the ceilings are bowing!
We have offered to help but my father in law does not want any help. It is so annoying!

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