Forum Archives

Return to Forum List

Aging parents, reality check

You are not logged in. Login here or register.

HFSSC posted 7/23/2013 17:01 PM

My parents are 73 (her) and 74 (him). They live about 15 miles from me. My siblings and I have been concerned about the feasibility and safety of them continuing to live independently for a while now. They are hoarders and their house is typically horribly nasty. They have been resistant to allowing us in to clean, allowing us to throw anything away, etc. Last fall, we had a scare with Daddy when he had a GI illness (most likely food poisoning from eating some old, nasty food that should have been thrown away) and became delirious. Shortly afterward, we had a family meeting and they agreed to allow us to start cleaning and throwing things away. We had originally planned a weekend when all 3 of us with our spouses and grown kids would go and work to get it cleaned up. That fell through and we've been attacking it piecemeal.

So, anyway, last week, my dad was VERY off. He looked awful, missed several church functions that were very uncharacteristic for him to miss. I called him Friday and he was cranky, argumentative and disagreeable. Totally out of character. I asked him if he would promise to make a dr appointment for this week and he said, "No, I will not promise." So I told him I was going to make an appointment and he could just be mad if he wanted to. Took him to the doctor yesterday and during the exam, noticed he had a rash all over his trunk, legs and arms. While the doctor was examining the rash, my mom piped up and said, "That's where I pulled a tick off him a couple of weeks ago."

The doc did bloodwork and I got a call a couple of hours ago that he has Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. She started him on antibiotics yesterday, empirically. We are just a couple of days away from the point when it would/could have become critical and involve organ failure. I'm relieved that we caught this in time, but just overwhelmed at how bad it could have been. And with realizing that they simply can't continue living where they live, under those conditions.

I don't know what we're going to do. Mama was ready to look at ALFs last year, but Daddy was dead set against it. We're gonna have to have some tough conversations. I am not looking forward to it.

Would appreciate prayers/thoughts for wisdom and for a relatively smooth transition for my folks. Thanks.

unfound posted 7/23/2013 18:43 PM

it's so so hard when the child must take on the parenting of the parent :(. my sister and I went through it a year or so ago, and it wasn't easy. it also didn't go smoothly and we had to have several difficult conversations with her until it was all said and done.

first, we had to really gain moms trust. trust in that we would only intervene when we and her dr's felt it necessary. having her physician on board made a big difference. having that third party, a professional third party, helped her see that it wasn't just our opinion of what might be best for her. also if you can get them into some kind of counseling. even if for a visit or two.. it can open their eyes to see the situation they are in.

second. if you can come to some agreement with them to move, do a LOT of research (ahead of time) on ALF. most will not take people unless there is a physical need stated by a dr. there's a HUGE difference between assisted and independent living facilities. where my mom ended up is independent living. nurse on premise 24/7, transportation provided, cleaning services offered, meals included etc... assisted living is more for those that physically can't do (some things or most things) for themselves. the range of places we looked at varied from us making to the front door and turning around and leaving because they were so retched, to places that resembled a resort. income/pricing will be a factor as well. some places will work with residents on pricing.
A great resource I found was "A Place For Mom", google it. the lady I worked with was amazing. even before we had some to an agreement with mom, they helped us through not only the housing, but also helped with the emotional aspect of it all.

as a last resort, you can always call adult protective services if you think either one of them are in physical danger, aren't able to take care of themselves or are living in conditions that are dangerous.

it's an awful thing to have to deal with, even in the best of circumstances. ((hfssc))

[This message edited by unfound at 6:44 PM, July 23rd (Tuesday)]

inconnu posted 7/23/2013 19:00 PM

(((HFSSC))) My mom is still living on her own, but I have serious doubts whether she should be or not. So I understand what you're going through. It sure isn't easy, that's for sure.

hurtbs posted 7/23/2013 19:03 PM

I'm so sorry (((HFSSC))

I'm watching my parents go through something similar with my grandmother. She just turned 91 and is suffering from dimentia. They have some hard decisions that they need to make.

painpaingoaway posted 7/23/2013 19:10 PM

I'm so sorry girl. But thank God you got him to the doc when you did!

This is one of the most difficult things you will have to deal with. It started for us in 2004, the year my daughter graduated from college.

My parents were well into their 80's, and we tried to have the conversation, but my Dad would have no part of it. The next year he was diagnosed with cancer, and Mom was diagnosed with Alzhiemers. Luckily, he then agreed to move in with me, I think, because he was so afraid that he would not be able to properly take care of Mom and he was more worried about her than himself.

It was very very difficult. Their care, my son's care, H's infidelity, my daughter's wedding, then I got sick, then my H's dad got sick, it was such a difficult time.

Please please take care of yourself.

You are a wonderful person, and I know you will handle this with all the care, compassion, and understanding that makes you who you are. They are VERY lucky to have you as their daughter. You will get through this.

Stay strong sweetie. You can do this.

jrc1963 posted 7/23/2013 19:11 PM

(((HFSSC))) No advice just support and prayers.

HFSSC posted 7/23/2013 20:01 PM

Thanks y'all. I guess I neglected one important detail in our favor, which is that I'm a registered nurse (25 years) with 13+ years working in long term care. I know ALL of the CCRCs, ALFs, and SNFs in a 50 mile radius. I'm also extremely well known in my industry. I'm also friends (FB and real life) with the director of health certification in my state.

However, my parents are both retired nurses and they get a little territorial at times. We had a very good visit this evening. Daddy is (currently) on board with us cleaning his room out, tearing out carpet and replacing it, and repainting. I told them I was going to make them wear flea and tick collars. they did think that was funny.

It is so hard to look at them and see old people.

InnerLight posted 7/24/2013 09:27 AM

It is really hard to watch parents become old. You are doing the right things getting more involved, the siblings gathering to help.

Most people want to keep their independence as long as possible. It's like teenagers in reverse. My mother started saying 'no!' like a teenager to all kinds of helpful suggestions we made. Fortunately she did make the move across the country to a senior apartment near me where she doesn't have to drive, there are people around if she needs them. She can take the bus and catch rides from friends. She is 89 and fiercely independent. She is also half blind from macular degeneration and fractured her knee cap this year and had a hernia operation last year which took months to recover from. She eats well, lots of vegetables, and walking so she is still able to keep independent.

Can you have a family meeting about options and concerns? Do the reality check with them. I suggest conveying the willingness to support their independence to the best of your collective abilities, but also talk about future options.

Old people often feel like the young are railroading them in to situations they won't like where they are institutionalized and have to give up what they love the most. Their own home and independence. Lots of diplomacy is needed! I also think we have to step back at some point and let our parents live their lives too so it is a delicate balance between involving yourself in their lives, respecting their needs while watching out for them and surrendering control.

Good luck! I hope your Dad feels better soon.

woundedwidow posted 7/24/2013 09:56 AM

Gosh, 73 and 74 seem so young to me - my Mom got remarried at 73 after 12 years of widowhood, and my stepdad was 74! Anyway, otherwise I can relate to your situation. At almost 89, my Mom had a knee replacement and began to have memory issues (later diagnosed as beginning Alzheimers). I researched all the good ALFs in her area and finally settled on one. Even though she visited it three times and liked it, when it came time to actually move in, all hell broke loose! She went into total meltdown and I had to call my sister to come help me because Mom was refusing to go. However, once she got settled in, she just loved the place. They had "happy hour", parties, luaus, dances, weekly entertainment, and outside trips. The only thing she really missed was driving. I really hope you can convince your folks, and especially your Dad, to consider a good facility. It will provide safety for them and security for you knowing they are in a good environment and well looked after. You have my earnest prayers.

metamorphisis posted 7/24/2013 10:12 AM

((((((HFSSC))))))) First a big hug because you need one.

Reading your post made me think of the place here in town that at least from the outside looks pretty cool. It has a large building with individual resident rooms but it also has an apartment building and townhouses for more independent folks. There's a community dining hall for all if you so choose, doctors and nurses on staff, a rec centre etc. There are call buttons in all the rooms of the apartments and townhouse too, medical staff on site, a daily private bus for grocery shopping and banking. Just some great supports while still having some autonomy.
I know you are in health care so probably know all this stuff but maybe the answer is a place that still allows them an apartment or townhome for privacy. I think my husband and I would like something like that one day

[This message edited by SI Staff at 10:13 AM, July 24th (Wednesday)]

ISPIFFD posted 7/25/2013 09:06 AM

Huge hugs!!!!

My dad died from Alzheimer's a year ago next week, and it was horribly hard on him and on me being there with him for his final 6 months. He'd been so smart, so independent, so ... international. And he managed for 10+ years before the dementia became too much. Watching him fail and forget everything (and how to do everything) was harder for me than the whole A-->False R-->D situation, and I thought that was the hardest thing ever.

Dad could never have managed in ALF, but we were "lucky" that once his dementia presented fully, he went downhill so fast that there really wasn't time for planning and moving. He had in-house care provided by HomeInstead (it's a national franchise so there are branches in many cities), and while that wasn't a perfect solution, it was crucial in conjunction with my being there as his advocate.

All this to say that I totally understand how hard this is both for you and for your parents. One thing to keep in mind, if your parents move to ALF of any kind and one of them gets worse, as in can't walk on his/her own, they might end up separated with the sicker one in nursing care/lockdown. The two places I looked at last year looked so pleasant for the assisted living folks, but the lockdown/nursing/dementia wings were a nightmare - no way was I putting Dad in there! Again, my point here is in researching the places, make sure they handle all facets of elder care. Some places will kick the patient out once he/she can't function beyond a certain point any longer.

Is it possible in the meantime to have a caregiver come into their house and help just a few hours a day or two or three days a week? That person could clean, cook, make sure meds are taken, etc.

HFSSC posted 7/25/2013 12:32 PM

Is it possible in the meantime to have a caregiver come into their house and help just a few hours a day or two or three days a week? That person could clean, cook, make sure meds are taken, etc.

This would be ideal, except that their house is currently SO horrible I'm not sure we could afford anyone who would be willing to come in.

What we're thinking of right now is that there is one room in the house that is fairly decent and we could get up to par pretty quickly. Then, Daddy is going to move in that room so we can go in and clean/fumigate/sterilize his room, and we'll just keep attacking one room at a time. We're also trying to set up a rotation with the males in the family to go down and mow grass, do yardwork, etc. There is at least one tree that needs to come down, and I'm pretty sure we're going to need to get a professional to do that.

Right now, we are very committed to doing what it takes to keep them together at home for as long as possible. Just not entirely sure how to make that happen yet.

Thank you all again for your support.

exhausted lady posted 7/26/2013 01:49 AM


I've been dealing with this for a few years now. Mom has dementia, and my dad recently passed away from 3 different varieties of cancer.

My mom's dementia has turned her from an OCD housekeeper to a hoarder. I SOOOO understand where you're coming from, and God knows, there is no good answer. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

My dad still had very good cognitive function until right before he passed away, but mom has kind of left the planet. Soooo.....she's going to have to live with me, once she gets out of the LTC facility she's in for rehab/PT from her back problems.

I don't have any good answers for you (or for me either), but I wanted to let you know you're not the only one dealing with this. It sucks. The age/dementia/failing health thing just kind of steals our parents from us and it turns into a role reversal and THAT is a very hard line to walk.

Good luck to all of us dealing with elderly, infirm parents. It's a hard, hard thing to do. You're lucky to have siblings to back you up (I'm an only child), and I hope you can all maintain a united front on the whole issue.

You have my profound sympathy, and tons of virtual hugs.

DragnHeart posted 7/26/2013 12:28 PM

First. Big hugs. I'm sorry you're dealing with this!

I am lucky in that my parents sat the three of us down (myself and two younger brothers) to discuss their wills and wishes. We all got on the same page.

Right now my parents are dealing with my mothers second oldest sister. She is now in hospital awaiting placement into a long term facility. Doctors have said she is no longer of soubd mind. The problem lies in that my aunt didn't create a living will or do the paperwork for power of attorney. At least none that my parents can find. As it stands it looks like the government will be coming in, selling her property and taking guardianship of her. My mother hopes this won't happen and she will have guardianship but they aren't sure if they can pay all the fees to go through the courts to get that done.

My aunt told me a few years ago that my cousin and I were executors of her estate, showed me where the paperwork was but we never went over it. Theres nothing in the place she showed me anymore that my mom could find.

My parents had all of her bills sent to them and can pay them from her account, they arranged that some time ago. This will continue for now. Next week they are going up to clean out the garbage (aunt = major hoarder). I think I'll go as well to see if I can find any paperwork.

Huge lesson learned though. Made me and wh have a serious talk about living wills, power of attorney stuff.

Return to Forum List

© 2002-2018 ®. All Rights Reserved.