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Thread: Small, guilty vent: needy elderly parent

  1. #1
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    Small, guilty vent: needy elderly parent

    I feel bad even saying this, but I HAVE to get it off my chest. My dear father, who lives alone in Florida, is having moderate medical problems. He has for years, but they seem to be getting more frequent. My brother (in NY) and I (in MA) would love to be with him. However, we both work and have young children. It's not easy to drop everything and get to Florida for each and every "incident". We HAVE done so, when he had a couple of strokes 2 years ago. We also do visit him, alternating so he has some company (just for the weekend) about every other month.

    My father, who is quite curmudgeonly, has no friends. He makes no effort to make friends (never has) and those few he used to have aren't around for one reason or another.

    He also REFUSES to get help from a nurse's aide, companion or some such person, who could visit his home and keep an eye on him.

    So, I'm at a loss. Do I jump on a plane and go see him, do I let him figure out what to do by himself (he's perfectly able to pick up the phone and find some help), or what?

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Shall we start this off with a laugh? I initially thought the title of your post was 'Small, quality vent...' Yes, this is a very good quality vent. Well done.

    Now...I am truly sorry this is going on. How worrisome for you and your brother. Sounds like you are concerned both about his being lonely and also about his living alone given that he has health issues. Clearly you and your brother both have responsibilities that prevent you from being with him at the drop of a hat and you needn't feel guilty about that though I know that's easier said than done. My Dad was something like this after my Mom died. He was always something of a loner, not the sort to get involved in any kind of social groups and I felt badly about how much he was alone in his later years also. The fact was, my brothers and I simply couldn't be there for him all the time and I finally came to the conclusion that this is what he chose because it was what he was comfortable with.

    Does your father have any neighbors you might give your contact information to who might be able to look in on him now and then? Is there anyone nearby that you could ask to be aware of his movements (i.e. to call you if they've noticed any change in his routine?). Is it out of the question for him to move closer to you and your brother in the Northeast? Is an assisted living facility a possibility? If he won't accept a visiting nurse or the like would he at least accept something like one of those medical call services/gadgets in case he has some kind of accident or becomes ill at home?

    Good luck to you with it. I hope you can find a solution that gives you all peace of mind.
    Linda

    When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and I could say “I used everything you gave me.”

    Erma Bombeck

  3. #3
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    Just off the top of my head, can you sign him up for some kind of meals on wheels program? Just so he is getting some human contact?

    Good luck to you and your brother. I hope your dad's health gets better.
    You can't drink rum on the beach all day if you don't start in the morning.

  4. #4
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    Thank you for your thoughtful replies. Linda, I thought the title of my thread looked like "quilty vent" and I might get some quilters responding! Me getting to know who his neighbors are is a good idea. He does have some sort of alert or alarm button in his condo in case of trouble. Also, I like the idea of signing him up for Meals on Wheels, though I don't know how to approach it. He'd probably say, "I don't need that." Well, at least I could approach him about it. Thanks alot everyone.

  5. #5
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    My mom is going through this now with my grandmother, who really should no longer be living on her own. But she refuses to live in an assisted living place.

    Initially my grandmother did resist Meals on Wheels, but she has it now. She also has several "helpers" who are provided by her state (Ohio) that come in twice a week and help her with various things (like basic things - washing her hair, getting in and out of the tub, etc.). These women also would do grocery shopping and other errands. I think she pays based on her income, so that lower-income folks pay less and people with more pay more. I would imagine that Florida with its large senior population probably has a similar program.

    It's a frustrating situation, I know.

  6. #6
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    May 2002
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    The helper programs here are called chore worker program & it's usually ordered thru a state program by his physician. bath aides, driving assistance, meals on wheels etc. you might check with his doctor's office about what is available in the community. also check for the medic alert program. it's one of those necklace type things that he can push to sumon aid.

  7. #7
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    Originally posted by memartha
    Also, I like the idea of signing him up for Meals on Wheels, though I don't know how to approach it. He'd probably say, "I don't need that."
    I know he hasn't refused yet but if you call the agency and find out how it works ahead of time you might be able to circumvent some of his objections when you have the conversation with him. I think I would tell them that he is known to be feisty and independent and do they have any suggestions about how to broach the subject with him. They have probably heard every objection in the book and may be able to give you suggestions on how to talk with him about it. Maybe his issue would be he doesn't want strangers in his house and they could be instructed to leave the meals for him in a certain place that wouldn't be intrusive to him, even if they ring the bell and leave it outside the front door. Whatever it takes to get nutritious food into him. If you can get him to accept one service and he starts to enjoy it that might crack the door open to getting him to accept others.
    Linda

    When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and I could say “I used everything you gave me.”

    Erma Bombeck

  8. #8
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    A quilter here thinking "quilty"

    I don't have any words of wisdom for you, but I hope everything works out...
    *Susan*

    "One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries."

    A.A. Milne

  9. #9
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    I don't know if this will help you, but you are not alone. We have been going through this with my granddad for several years now.

    After grandma passed on GD lasted about a year in his house in San Diego, (the closest relative was me, 700 miles away). We learned the true state of affairs after a neighbor called us to say that GD was randomly going into other people's houses and had almost run over a small child in his car. We had hired a helper for bathing assistance and meal prep but he would fire them immediately.

    My mom and dad found a great residential living facility about 10 minutes from their house and put GD on the list. When the spot opened up, they told him he would only have to try it for one month and that they would visit him often. He kept the house in SD. After 3 months, GD decidied that he liked it and wanted to saty, so they sold the house. The facility has a system to check on the residents, cafeteria, and social activities. GD prefers just to sit in the lobby, snoooze, and see who comes and goes.

    Now wee are still having some issues with GD - he has been in and out of the hospital this past month (and refuses to believe that he was actually in the hosipital as he doesn't remember the ride there (because he was practically dead!!!) (small vent here too!) The facility has various levels - independent living (nice apartments) and a more "assisted living" where bathing, mediciation, and meal control are available.

    GD has always refused to admit that anything is not ok (something to do with undermining his manliness is what mom and I think) My dad lives in fear that he will turn into GD someday and be that difficult for me and my bro. We've just reached the point where it's like working with a toddler - "do you want to take your bath now or at 8?" - the option to not do it isn't mentioned.

    You're not alone, it's not fun taking care of your parents, but sometimes "tough love" is the only option. The meals on wheels and such are great options and can help segue into more intense interventions.

    HTH, if not, thanks for letting me let off some GD related steam!
    Your actions speak so loudly I can hardly hear you - Henry David Thoreau

  10. #10
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    Again, thank you all so much. In response to an email I sent Dad, inquiring about what kinds of help he might need post-surgery, he sent one back saying, "No help necessary. I'll take the bus to and from the operation." OMG!!!!! Can you say, "Stubborn?" I told DH about this and he, frankly, doesn't want to hear another word about it.

    So, I'm really grateful to all of you. I will take your suggestions and stories to heart. They do make me feel like I am not alone. I'll keep you posted if anything positive comes out of all this. Martha

  11. #11
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    Martha,

    Sorry to hear about your Dad. It is scary/hard as we get older and are forced to deal with elderly parents. Does his community have a senior center? Perhaps they offer some services, like rides and meals. I would think FL would have very active senior centers!

  12. #12
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    Martha,

    I am so sorry that you are going through this. I posted a few threads like this over a year ago. My Mom (now recuperating from a stroke), was doing goofy things like misplacing her car, etc. Finally, my sister and I put our feet down and then told her that she needed to try assisted living for a month. After a couple of other challenges, she adjusted the best that she could. It sounds like you and your brother may need to make a visit together, check out assisted living facilities and then let your Dad pick one out. I'm sorry to sound so harsh, but it will be for his own good. ((((((Martha))))))
    Life is all about a$$; you're either covering it, laughing it off, kicking it, kissing it, busting it, trying to get a piece of it, behaving like one, or you live with one.

    Maxine

  13. #13
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    Aug 2001
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    northern california
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    My dad's world came crashing down when he was 88. He had an illness that killed his strength forcing him to give up golf, driving, and his home all within 2 months. He agreed to move to a senior living community. He forged ahead, frighteding as that is at that age. Its been a WONDERFUL experience. He has an apartment for privacy and vistors, a community room for playing cards, a librairy, entertainment and has made some great friends. They have an emergency system so that if he needs help its available. They do meals. We're lucky, our dad is soon to be 92 and except for cooking, which is available in the dining room, he's in pretty doggone good shape. We think this community along with his fortitude helped him regain much of his strength. How about checking out something like that?
    Karen

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