Share stories about taking care of older parents.( and advice too)

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by HeatherLynn, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. HeatherLynn

    HeatherLynn Songster

    May 11, 2009
    Kentucky, Cecilia
    I stopped fighting something last week and in a way I feel better and in another way I feel worse. I have accepted my parents are aging and slowing down, and very very mortal.They are at a point now they need more than just a daughter. That they need not just my help but caretaking. They need someone to push them to do what is good for them and to stop them from doing whats dangerous. I just started parenting my parents and I don't like it. They were always the center of everything, always in control. Its not like that anymore.

    I feel less anxious in a way now that I can admit it. I cried a ton to get to this point because it means I have to face other facts too. I feel like my parents have become unruly teenagers out to steal my sanity. I love them both dearly and I am ready to give them what they need whether they want it or not but I would like to do this in a way that lets them still feel in control and happy. My dad( who is now in a neck brace with a fractured neck) calls me nag when i won't let him climb ladders. My mother laughs happily as she putters around the blueberry bushes right before she falls. I love being there for them but I don't like feeling like I just became the parent. Will I ever get used to this chage?

    Anyway I would love stories and advice. I know this will be a change but I know I won't regret this time with them. So share some stories and show me how this different time can still be good.

    Edited to add. Its scary but it feels so less stressful after I admit this to myself. I feel like a huge boulder fell off. I still have my parents on my shoulder but the boulder is gone.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012
  2. I can't give you advice. They are going to resent being told what to do or not do.

    My father died suddenly at 68. My mother died 20 years later. All I could do was be at her call to help her when she needed it, to take care of her when she was sick or hurt, to listen to her stories (over and over).

    It helped ruin my marraige. I held her hand as she took her last breathe and whispered I love you, you've done your job, it's ok to let go.

    My advice, love them, be there for them, help them, let them be happy as long as they are mentally fit and not a real danger to themselves and others. For example, mothers blueberries bring her joy. She knows she falls, but the joy is worth it to her. If you take away their activities, you take away their lives. Don't push. Have a friend you can vent to. They know they are slowing down, they just want to be independent as long as possible.
  3. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    It's not an easy thing! We've been through this process with my in-laws and my mother. My Dad died of a massive heart attack in his mid sixties. In some ways that was easier. Being the parent to your parents is a touchy thing. It's really hard taking control in a fashion that still allows them their dignity. My mother voluntarily gave up driving and asked me to take over paying bills on her own. She remained mentally sharp until her death at 97. She lived on her own in Fla. until she was 95 - we live in NJ. Imagine the stress of that, but that's the way she wanted things to be. At 95 she moved into an assisted living facility and remained there until her death. With my in-laws my FIL had an addiction problem that we could never get him to address. The law eventually 'took away' his driver's license and I breathed a sigh of relief. They lived an hour's drive away and 3 or 4 times a week we would visit to keep tabs on things. Mercifully he died of a massive stroke. Within a matter of months my MIL followed suit.

    It was a hard thing, and the wear and tear especially on my wife was significant. Do the things that you absolutely must do to preserve their safety, but never lose sight of the fact that they are still the 'parents', and as such should be respected.

    I understand what you are dealing with. The lack of control over 'everything' was my greatest problem, but out of respect they must be allowed some space. Do this one day at a time, and understand that if you do not take care of yourself during all of this you will be no good to anyone else. [​IMG]
  4. HeatherLynn

    HeatherLynn Songster

    May 11, 2009
    Kentucky, Cecilia
    Yea I used the H word in my argument about him and the ladder. He reminded me that he was still my dad and could whoop me. sigh My mom cannot convince him to take it easy long enough to heal so she tells me to do it. Its not going great. I sent my daughter to "tail" him. I told her Opa would notice but to just say "I'm not following you Opa, I just want to be near you." He came back in a few minutes later and said "Laurel won't stop following me. Did you tell her to follow me. I asked her why she was tailing me and she just keeps saying she wants to be close. Make her stop." My daughter shrugs, says I tried and walks off.

    They are a danger to themselves only sometimes. Dad stopped driving on his own THANK GOD. He drives very seldom and only to rural places. He says the traffic is too much for him. Mom drives. She is terrifying only at night. She does ask me to drive her then. She still does the bills but has me set reminders on my computer so I can make sure she pays them. Neither of them sign legal paperwork anymore unless I read it. All that they do willingly. Going to the doctor when they need to, taking medicine, not climbing on the roof or wrestling a hurt horse. Yea forget that. So one break in the neck, 2 in the back and several ribs and he wants to climb back up the ladder. He can barely get out of a chair solo right now and he was trying to work out how to get up the ladder this morning. My husband says he is turning gray fast because dad wants to drive the big tractor ( the one with no working breaks at the moment) and dig a footer for his barn. My husband knew what he signed up for though and is great about it. He could not treat his own parents any better than he does mine. I told him even before we got serious that I would be the one taking care of my parents and he needed to think about what I had committed myself to before we went further. He went one step further and made it his commitment too.

    We live with my parents currently and are building not even 100 feet away so they can stay somewhat independent for as long as they like. I just want them independent away from mole holes, ladders, rakes, and barn roofs. Yea I gotta sneak out and break a tractor real fast. I wonder how many parts I need to "lose" before it won't start up anymore and how can I hide that parts are gone. My nephew is plotting to "steal" all the ladders till the Amish guys can come out and finish this barn. Oh yea and those moles gotta die. I now understand my mom freaking out when I decided to drive an hour away and work in the city. Blind fear that overcomes reason.
  5. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap

    I only had (she is still here) my mom to deal with. In 1998, I made a commitment to move in with her and make sure she had what she needed. She has had multiple back surgeries and is just basically broken. For 10 years, my son and I were there, saw her through way too much pain and many hospital visits.

    In 2007, she had her hip replaced. She still walks all crooked, but it is AMAZING! That surgery gave her back her independence and she is a much happier person.

    I could go on and on about all the drama that went on while being there with her, but that is only because of who she is, not her age. My one thread of advise for you is to be aware of what behavior you are willing to accept and what you are not and make it clear to them from the start. If need be, walk away. It usually will last a short amount of time before they see the error of their ways and make amends.

    Taking care of aging parents is a trial in itself. My..... brothers in-laws parents are 98 and 90 - they call me daily to make reservations for rides even though I have NOTHING to do with that. What do I do? I write it down and go to that department.

    We were at Target one day and they were both there on scooters. I introduced Ken to them, we had a pleasant conversation and when we were leaving, John said "Nice to meet you Mike!". I just said "go with it,babe".
  6. jamesbwood

    jamesbwood Songster

    Tough stuff - my dad, my hero, is getting up there in years too. This is the guy that worked double overtime to put me though college. This is the guy that got me out of my mom's house and treated me with respect - he probably saved my life. A decade after he spent 100k on legal fees to get my brother off the scary set (stuff given to mass murders, way past riddelin) of drugs mom had convinced some quack Dr. that he needed to be stable. I always though my brother acted exactly like any other 14 year old boy and that mom was the problem.

    Last year dad wanted a chain saw for Christmas. When we asked him why, he said something about going up to the land he has in Georgia and cutting down tress. My brother and I looked at each other and both immediately vetoed the idea. We got him a trailer instead and he was happy. Now he can get loads of free mulch for the garden.

    Dad knows he is starting to go but he wants to be useful, he want to contribute. Old habits die hard.

    At one point I lived in a sailboat in a marina. An older gentleman lived next to me - nicest guy ever. Apparently he had been a priest at some point. Apparently he ran a major company at another point. He was stating to go, his small old boat didn't sail anymore. He fell out of his boat a few times at the dock. No one else would take him sailing as he was kind of a liability. Some people thought he should be put in a home. I did some serious soul searching and decided that I was going to still take him out sailing - he loved it - he had the biggest smile. I was knowingly taking on extra risk and the best I could do was try to mitigate that risk as best as I could. He was happy to just sit and enjoy but secretly I had assigned "spotters" to back him up if he expressed an interest in "helping". The only real problem was one day when we anchored out. My crew was two 20 something rescue diver girls - they jumped in and took off. It was hot. He wanted to jump in too and I didn't think anything of it. When he went to climb back in, he didn't have the strength to pull himself up. This is a big guy, I'm not a big guy. He suggested that I pull him up - I know the physics of that vertical lift and that it wasn't going to work but we tried as I though of other things. At one point he drifted away from the boat and I had to get a life ring to him and pull him back. The current was so small I didn't even notice it but it was enough. Then he started to shake - a sign of shock - I was starting to get worried. I manage to make an extension to the boats ladder so he could get his feet under him and get out. This actually worked - if it hadn't, I would have got the girls to help and tried the bosun's chair and a wench - if that didn't work quickly, radioed for help. I still took him out after this but we both knew that swimming was out. The reason I did this is because I believe that it was the right thing to do. This is how I would want to be treated. I want to live life on my terms till the end. I believe that quality of life matters.

    For my dad, who has always helped and still wants to help, I go out of my way to find projects that he can do that are helpful. As a family, we started a small business buying and renovating an apartment. I'm scarred to death that he will fall and hurt himself. He falls a lot, especially at home, doing normal things that we just can't protect him from - most recently picking up a tennis ball for the dog from under the couch. He falls well, almost a martial arts fall but it still scares me. We have banned him from ladders and chain saws and he mostly cooperates. It is tough. All males in my family are type A go getters. We don't do well with confinement.

    Dad has said, on more than one occasion, that he will end it rather then go into a nursing home (his mother did and wasted away for years, he is very clear that he does not want that). That is very hard for me to hear although I'd probably do and say the same thing. We keep him busy and productive but within him limits. We remind him that while we like his help, we don't need it enough for him to drive out when he is sick, dizzy, etc. Sometimes it is a group effort to persuade him to stay home - the best most effective argument is that if we have to take him to the hospital we won't get anything done for an entire day.

    So that is my day, my hero. I try to keep him active and involved because that is what I'd want and he really enjoys working with his two sons and being productive, even it it meant some increased level of risk.


    This may not fit your situation - it sounds like you are past this point. But is where I am at and, I suspect, this will only get tougher with time. I can't believe that I'm 40. The weight of this is the biggest thing that makes me feel middle aged. How do we best help and care for our heroes as they age?
  7. jamesbwood

    jamesbwood Songster

    I probably should have mentioned that I've taken dad to the ER 3 times in the last 2 months.
  8. rrrmamma

    rrrmamma Songster

    Jul 27, 2010
    New Concord,Ohio
    Right now I am in California at my mother's house. My husband and home and critters are in Ohio. Last February I got the call that I had been dreading. Her congestive heart failure had worsened and she was in the hospital. I flew out and spent two weeks getting her settled at home. We hired 24/7 live in help. The girls were good but were hard to understand on the telephone. Her friends kept calling me telling me she wasn't eating and was losing a great deal off weight. She wasn't large to begin with. I made one more trip back for 3 weeks. Again I went home to get my garden in and spend some time with my husband, After a month of being unable to understand either her or her caregivers on the phone and emergency calls from her hospice nurse I made a tough decision. I came back last week and am now her sole care giver. In the meantime, my brother was diagnosed with brain cancer. His prognosis is not good. He cannot help with her care. He does still handle her finances, but that puts me in a position of having problems with everyday emergencies like broken garage doors etc. She is happy I am here but I can see there will be problems when I have to return home.
    She has not been out of bed since February. The caregivers would not try so everyday I urge her to at least sit on the edge of the bed. It becomes a battle of wills. She says she is too tired. I tell her she has to. I usually win even if it just for a few minutes. I try to let her maintain her dignity. It is hard when you are changing your mother's diapers. She is bordering on dementia so there is much repeating. She has been told of my brothers problem but she just doesn't remember from one day to the next, She nwill turn 90 on July 2. We are planning a birthday party. I am not sure how much she can participate but she seems to be excited about it. I truly believe that is what is keeping her alive right now. We are working on a cookbook of family recipies, Each one brings back memories for her of when she or her mom or aunt made those dishes. I am enjoying hearing family stories and make notes every night.It is a difficult thing to do but I will treasure the memories and remember the stories. I am learning patience. I'm not sure I have any advice. Just take each day at a time. Try to keep them from hurting themselves seriously or driving and hurting someone else, And get them talking about their youth. You will be surprised how much they remember from the past even when they can't remember what they had for breakfast. Hang in there. You will not regret the time you spend with them now,
  9. Spookwriter

    Spookwriter Crowing

    Feb 23, 2010
    One of the hardest things you'll ever do. Yet in the end, you'll
    have the greatest memorys of the time spent together.

    Smile even when you feel like crying. Those days are coming.
    Never let your parents feel that they have become a burden.
    Because of all the things they might be, a burden isn't one of

    Treat them with the love and respect they are due. At all times.
    Make it a point to involve them in as much as you can. And allow
    them input. (as long as it's safe)

    Meal times...they know what they want. Fix it. Better yet, let them
    help prepare the meals.

    TV...again, they like to watch what they like to watch. You learn to
    like that show too. Watch tv together. Talk together. Make sure they
    are a part of your life, and make sure that they -and you- enjoy it.

    Let them do all that they can. And help them do all that they can.
    I use to break things just so my father in law could fix them. (Electrician)

    I bought the golf cart so "we" could ride around together. Garden, garage
    or just ride. That wheelchair was not the end. I made it a point to take him
    on car rides, or meals out every few days.

    Now I make it a point to set with my own father at least a few hours each
    day. His days are winding down. It's hard on mom. But at least they both
    know I'm there. Anytime they need me. Day or night.

    Mom still handles the bills. I just make sure they have enough money.

    Our parents can't help getting old. Can't help being sick. And at times,
    they can't lashing out at you. Let it roll.

    Just keep smiling.

    Many the night I sat with my father in law. Rocking, watching as he slept
    or tried to.

    And he knew, just as my own parents know...I'm there. Always.

    You'll be forced to things that never crossed your mind before this.
    Baths, feeding, diaper if need be. Just a part of life.

    It was my honor, and one of my greatest privilage, to have my father in law
    in my home.

    As hard as it was to take care of him...I would do it again in a heartbeat.

    No, it's not easy. Not for you, not for them. There will be a lot of hard
    times when you feel like you just can't go on. We've all been there.
    So feel free to PM me, or e-mail when ever you need a shoulder.

  10. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    Beautiful Spook! It brought tears in my eyes....

    I am thankful my parents are here and doing well despite of the problems of their own. I just dread the days I will face them in death and the reality of seeing them in the cold and hard ground. Neither one of them are afraid of death and they are looking forward in it. Maybe one day when I get to be their age, I would reflect, it may be the most kindest way to go rather than suffer unneedlessly.

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