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Helping Elders Accept They Can No Longer Live Independently
I've been assisting my aging parent through a hip replacement surgery. I live in the home, but need to get back to my own home and life in another state. Its going on two years and my parent is going backwards. My parent has less mobility. My parent would otherwise be living alone. Safety is my main concern. My parent insists on driving and living in a huge home that requires lots of up keep. My parent is not capable of taking care of it (nor am I). Can anyone suggest where I start? Whatnow
1--For practical guidance, contact Family Caregiver Alliance (http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/home.jsp) and see what they recommend.
2--now comes the hard part. All of the practical guidance you get will still mean lots and lots of work on your part. Maybe it will work out and maybe it won't--accept that. Changing your mother's mind and getting her to move is likely to be an uphill battle. Do your best, express your love and your concerns, then LET GO. Tell your mom what the consequences of her behavior are likely to be--i.e. if she becomes disabled, you'll make a choice that is convenient for you, rather than the choice she'd make given the chance. (That's what I did.)
This is the mirror of your parents watching you go through your teenage years, except your parents are indeed going backwards. Your mother's power is waxing, and that's terrifying. Growing old and infirm with grace is something very few people are wise enough to do. Your mother would be safer in a care home--but that means losing privacy, independence, mobility, many of the things that form part of our identity. You can help her with this journey but only if she lets you. Set boundaries, do it on your terms, don't let her dictate everything.
In my case, my mom has continued to make poor choices and leave it to me to clean up. It's hard to grow old; it's worse not to live your own life because you're trying to make a crazy situation functional. Now, after multiple crises, I've had to step away just to live my own life. I still love my mom; I just accept that I can't fix what's wrong with her. --Wish I'd Taken As Much Care of Myself as of My Mom
The Center for Independent Living (Berkeley & Oakland) may be able to give you some advice - they are people with disabilities who advocate living independently. http://www.cilberkeley.org/contact_us.htm If you don't live in Berkeley or Oakland, ask them for the phone number of a similar office in your area.
Ask them about transportation and getting an application for paratransit, too.
If driving or taking the bus is a problem for her, you should probably fill out a ''paratransit application'' for her right away stating that there are certain circimstances and times that she cannot take the bus or BART, and describe those times and circumstances. Then she will qualify for some paratransit services which provide subsidized rides -- not free or as convenient as it sounds, but helpful. And it takes a while.
Senior Centers are worth contacting. You didn't say what town, but there are some in Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward, and I'm not sure where else. Carolyn
Rossmoor? Another place? Another idea? Where do I go from here? My parents live out of the area. My father is sick, and needs help with everything - bathing, eating, going to the bathroom, walking, etc. He will not get better. My mother is in good health and has been his sole caretaker for nearly 2 years. She is, of course, tired and depressed but working her tail off with pleasure to help my father. She also stubbornly does not want to move out of their 2-story house (they haven't been upstairs in the 2 years). Insurance covers someone from a home care organization to come in and help with bathing, but the hours are not right. These home care orgs. can come once during the day for a 4-hr block. This is not what she needs. She certainly needs someone in the morning, and someone in the evening, but also during the day. Home care orgs. do not offer split shifts. She also needs a nurse as she is taking my father's blood sugar and making (random?) decisions about administering his diabetic medicine (home care orgs. do not send RNs). Further, she needs someone to talk to. They have no friends in the area. Basically, my mom needs a nurse and a wife in one! I would love to have them closer - does Rossmoor offer this type of service (wife joke aside)? Is a retirement facility right for them since my Mom is in good health? Is there an agency they can contact to interview live-in nurses for their current home? Anyone else out there ever deal with this? I'm at a loss for ideas! Thank you! Only child at a loss in Berkeley
My mother did not want to leave her community or home where she had lived for 50 years even though she frequently expressed rational doubts/fears about her ability to adequately care for my father in their home. And at times, I doubted her ability to make good decisions for herself and my father. Now that we have come to the end of a four year struggle to care for the needs of both parents long-distance, she has strongly rebuilt connections with her friends of many years and regained a vibrant life with pride at her ability to support and care for her beloved husband through his death at home. This wasn't easy for her or for me.
These are resources that made this possible:
1. My father's excellent primary care physician who gave straight information about his health, the required care, what his insurance would and would not provide, and a smattering of paid care resources in my mother's town. In order to get reliable information, I went to significant appointments with my parents. I'd help my mother form a list of questions she wanted addressed and added a few of my own. Then I'd make sure we covered the list, recorded the answers, and made sure my mother understood the implications before we left the appointment.
2. The Senior Center had excellent information about local resources, support groups for caregivers, infrequent ''days off'' for caregivers and lunch. This was an important starting point for my mother to develop a network of advisors, friends and paid assistants (who could build a low cost ramp? who was a trustworthy night time assistant?) and free or borrowed equipment (like a hospital bed).
3. Adult Day Care whose bus picked up my father three days a week and strongly supported my mother's needs paid for with my father's Social Security. It was very hard for my mother to feel comfortable spending the money and to require my father to go when he was unhappy (which he frequently was). But without it, she could not have managed his care.
4. A neighbor who gave my mother permission to call him if my father fell in the middle of the night and she was unable to lift him up (her worst fear). She asked the neighbor for help twice in four years. Her fallback was calling 911.
5. A trustworthy financial advisor who thoroughly understood my parents' financial situation and the available funds to spend on my father's care. My parents used his advice to set up their living trust, living wills and potential powers of attorney. My mother is still in a strong financial situation for the rest of her life.
6. Me. I started by listening to my mom and finding out how she wanted to manage this time in her life. Then we set up a means of organizing support and structures that would give her the help she needed. She actually did most of the work but I followed through on my part. I also listened to my needs and built that into our lives as well as I could. But my primary goal was not to take over from a capable woman who had built a strong partnership with my father over many years. I tried to become a partner, too. When my mother talked about her fears and how hard physically and mentally it was to care for my father, it was hard. But I let her take the lead. During those years, she needed a lot more phone and face time from me. So I cut back on activities and spent time and money visiting her. In some ways, it's been hard now because she doesn't need me as intimately in her life anymore.
While my family's solution may not be best for your situation, I'm glad I trusted my mother to know what her capabilities and limits were. She is now in the right place for her life in the community where she belongs. If her health slips, she trusts me enough to move to where I am. I know this is a difficult and uncertain time. My heart goes out to you and your parents as you work out the tough decisions for this time in your father's life. Wishing you the best for the road ahead
Good luck with this difficult transition, and help your mom find some help! Sandwich generation
Perhaps they can refer you to a Geriatric Social Worker in your parents' area who can do an assessment, and who can put them in touch with appropriate caregivers (such as an RN). Probably your mother needs a good training session in diabetes care as well.
If your parents aren't willing to move, getting help for them is all you can do (provided you can figure out how to pay for it).
I have no personal experience with Rossmoor but was told by someone more knowledgeable that they are oriented towards ''Independent Living.'' Sounds like your parents are ready for Assisted Living. If you move them here, I would look for a Continuing Care Retirement Community, such as Piedmont Gardens, that offers Independent Living, Assisted Living and Nursing Home Care. That way a resident can move up and down among the various levels within the same community. Good Luck
1) Family Caregiver Alliance in San Francisco--1-800-445-8106 or (415) 434-3388 and/or
2) Eldercare Services 1808 Tice Valley Blvd. Walnut Creek, CA 94595 Phone: (925) 937-2018 (They also have an office in San Francisco).
#1 above is great for supplying information and resource lists. #2 is a highly respected agency which is about 18-20 years old which does geriatric management, but also does consultation and support to families as well. They are experienced and knowledgeable. They also offer workshops and provide support groups. Sara
Can anyone here share experiences and make recommendations on how to
aid aging and ill parents? My parents-in-law have aged significantly
in the past year due to my father-in-law's (FIL) battle with
cancer. My mother-in-law (MIL) retired from her job and was almost
immediately faced with the near death of her husband and new role as
caregiver. My FIL had to quickly retire from his job in a business he
co-owned (and which was in debt) and has undergone a number cancer
treatments. As they begin 2007, my MIL is exhausted, depressed,
suffering from her own health issues that she has completely
neglected, and worried about finances. My FIL is in remission now,
tires very easily, but is already itching for his independence, so is
doing more than is recommended by his doctors. Despite their offspring
being local and doing all we can to help them, they are not
communicating with us and are in complete denial about how life has
changed, what they are capable (or incapable of), and what they should
probably alter to make life safer and more comfortable as they move on
from here. Can anyone recommend services, therapists, activities for
adults who have rapidly aged (or been ill) and not fully accepted it?
Can anyone suggest an in-home nurse we might be able to hire to check
on them and counsel my MIL through her emotions about all of this?
What about a group therapy we could encourage her to join? We are
trying to be as sensitive to their needs and feelings as we can, so
any techniques we can use to push them through their barriers in a
positive way would be extremely helpful. Thanks in advance and
happiest wishes for 2007.
daughter in law feeling helpless and frustrated!
One idea is to speak with their respective doctors. A doctor may be able to recommend therapists or household helpers, and your in-laws might accept the idea better than if it came from family.
If you are in Alameda County, you can get an idea of what kinds of services are out there by checking with the Alameda County Area Agency on Aging (1-800-510-2020 or http://alamedasocialservices.org). Other counties have similar agencies. They might be able to give you further advice about what to do in this situation.
Probably the best thing for you to do is to let them know that you care about them and that you are there for them. anon
My 80-year old widowed aunt is not really capable of living by herself in the Berkeley hills any more, and has some difficulty in realizing and adjusting to that fact. Does anyone have any recommendations for decent local living situations for someone in her position? She has some 'haziness' of mind and judgement but not a diagnosed dementia of any kind; she has some health issues but is not bed-ridden. She owns a house in the hills that could be sold to pay for some years of hopefully decent, caring living in a managed situation. Any advice would be appreciated
here are some other options
Em Gomez, Elder Care Counselor
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