Elderly parents - Help and prayers, please!


#1

Sorry for the long message but I have got to vent a bit.

Last week I helped my parents move down from Alaska. The original plan was that they would get their own apartment here where they could be close to me and my sister.

When my sister and I moved them, she flew my father down last week and he stayed with her. My sister flew up and packed for them. My parents were quite upset with her because she threw away so many keepsakes, like my father’s WWII medals (1 silver star, 3 bronze stars, 2 purple hearts, and and his service ribbons), the seasonal sweaters of my mom’s and painted portraits of all us kids, except the one of her. The day she flew back, I flew to Anchorage, put my dad on the plane then drove my mother down the Alaska Highway in their car. My father stayed with my sister while I drove down.

As I drove my mom down, it became clear they could not live by themselves. They agreed to move in with me without talking to my sister. I have a one story house, her is a two story and all bedrooms are on the second floor. Also, my sister has always had a very rocky and sometimes abusive relationship with my parents, she being the abuser/bully.

My parents are both in their 80’s. My mother lost her eyesight to macular degeneration a few years ago. Also, she does not move around too well. Last night I took her shopping and she got one of the little motorized carts to go around the store. She loves racing around in those things and was having a pretty good time. :slight_smile: Oh, did I mention she is blind? Have you ever seen a blind person drive? :rotfl: :eek:

My mother has some health problems and in on a restricted diet. But she is not in too bad off.

My father is a different story. He has several problems, among is his recently discovered greatly diminished lung capacity from 70 years of heavy smoking (Up to 7 packs a day when he was younger. Last year he was down to a 1 pack a day.) He has so little breath, that he would bet winded while eating because he cannot breath and chew at the same time. so he quit eating! :eek: He lost 80 pounds in the last 3 years. My formerly 5’ 11" father now weighs only 100 pounds. He had a malnutrition/starvation induced heart attack about 3 weeks ago. He also has other problems and is pretty close to helpless.

My sister made matters worse by telling my father they he was going to die in a couple of weeks. That made him very depressed. Even the doctors did not say that!

Anyway, after less than one week staying with my sister she had enough. Yesterday, I took off work to come get get him to take him to my home. My sister, who works from home, insisted I take off work and not come in the evening. :shrug: Instead of waiting for me to come get him, one hour before I got there she dumped my father at the VA hospital emergency room (my father is a WWII combat vet so he has free health care for life) and just left. She did not even call me. I only found out when I got to her house and she told me where he was.

Well, my father did need medical attention. But I am pretty annoyed with my sister.

But here I find myself, a single man whose only relative in town is, well, unreliable. My parents have both said they do not want to be left alone with my sister. I live alone in my house. My mother is blind. My father, when he comes home from the hospital tomorrow (hopefully) will need frequent care.

So much for going out on dates and finding that “special woman”. :o

I need prayers. I need help. I need advice. What I really need is someone who can look in on them during the day while I am at work. I have a cleaning lady, but she only comes every two weeks.

I have no idea what to do. Assisted living and nursing homes are completely out of the question; it would be a death sentence for both of them.


#2

God bless you for your efforts. Someone more experienced than I will come along with advice re: your sister; however, I just wanted to suggest that you not be so quick to rule out assisted living.

There are varying degrees these days; it may not be what you think it is. My 92 year old grandmother is incredibly independent but not able to be alone overnight nor maintain a house on her own. She found an assisted/independent living facility & loves it.

Just brainstorming here, does Oregon have a Dept. of Elderly Affairs that could help educate you as to the options? Facility care vs. in-home medical care vs. in-home respite for you…there really are a lot of possibilities, especially considering that your dad is a veteran.

I hope that helped, even a wee bit! You definitely have my prayers.:thumbsup:


#3

rpp,

You indeed have a heavy burden at this time.

Before your father is discharged from the hospital, you need to speak with his social worker. Because he is so very sick, he may well qualify for hospice care and other benefits.

Also, the social worker should be able to guide you to other resources available for your dad and also in caring for your mom.

Are you able to take any vacation time from work? If not the Family Leave Act will provide you with time off(without pay) but your job would be secure for I think it is 3mos.

But please check out the resources before you bring your dad home.

Will pray for the family.


#4

Yes, Oregon does. You might check the link below. oregon.gov/DHS/spwpd/hlth_med/healthmed.shtml

This might be a start, at least.

A note on Assisted Living, I just visited a great aunt of mine in the most wonderful Assisted Living facility located in Colville, WA. She has independence, but she also has the monitored care and assistance when needed. Her view of the valley alone is great… So, don’t lump all Assisted Care facilities in one group. There are some really nice ones, if you know where to look.

I didn’t check to see where the OP is from in Oregon, but our parish in south Salem has something called the Stephen Ministry which has vollunteers to visit shut-ins. If you were in the Salem area, perhaps something along these lines might work as a stopgap measure? If you are in the Salem area, you might try calling Queen of Peace Parish. God bless!


#5

Try to get them on a waiting list for an elderly housing building. I work in one. We provide assistance with showering, medication reminders, meal prep, homemaking, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. We take a lot of burden off family members and keep people as independent as possible.


#6

rpp–start checking to see if there any agencies that may be able to help with the care of your parents. Get them established with a doctor–and he may also be able to help in finding some help.

Here in Tex. many elderly receive help by way of home-providers, elderly day cares, equipment they may need (beds, walkers, etc).


#7

I feel for you. I really do.

Caring for aging parents is a time-consuming and expensive undertaking. Hopefully you and your parents will make peace with your sister so she can be of some support.

It sounds like you really do need someone to come check on your parents. I have no idea what sort of resources might be available in your area. Some areas have many resources; other areas have very few.

If your parish or community has an organization that is devoted to care for seniors you might contact them for referrals. Does the VA hospital have a program to visit veterans in the home? Can you get financial assistance if you need to make upgrades to the bathrooms to accomodate your parents.

There are people who will come to your home to help with nursing, food preparation, bathing, and grooming needs. However this may not be covered by insurance and as such can be as much if not more expensive than care in a assisted facility.

And God bless you for taking in your parents.


#8

rpp,

You do not have to all this checking different agencies, etc, yourself.

Every patient admitted to an accredited hospital should be assigned a case manager. They, in turn should hook you up with the social worker, whose job it is to see that the home care arrangements are adequate.

That is why it is urgent that you get the process started, before he is sent home.


#9

Check around. There are companies (I work for one) that provide assistance in the home for a pretty reasonable rate. The only two I know of are called “Visiting Angels” and “Home Instead”. They come over for 4 or more hours, fix meals ahead of time, help tidy up the house, provide companionship, drive people to their appointments or wherever. This way people can still stay at home. It’s not medical care, but I think it goes a long way towards helping out the primary caregiver (your new role). And speaking of being the primary caregiver…Good luck, you deserve it. :tiphat: You’ve taken on a very demanding job, and I think that you will always be thankful that you’ve had this time with your parents.


#10

Thank you. There is much good advice and suggestions here.

I have already spoken with a social worker. Coordinating medical care is not as difficult as just trying to figure out the day to day stuff. I fdo not know what my dad will require.

At least my house is set up for this. The person I bought it from 11 years was a retired widow. It was set up for people who are no so mobile. For example, the shower in the master bedroom is a walk-in type with no threshold. There is also a built-in seat in the shower. The doors are slightly wider than standard to make getting through with a wheelchair easier. So as for basic set up, my home is good.

It is just so much to do. It is a real transition. It really started to sink in last night that my life has pretty much come to an end as long as my parents are with me. But then I think about how my parents life changed when I was born. How they sacrificed their time and gave up things for me. I just hope I do not have to lay them across my shoulder and burp them! :smiley:


#11

Well I am not going to make the obvious response to your “burp” comment:D

It looks like things are beginning to fall in place.
Just don’t forget to care for yourself also during this time. Your life does not need to end during this time, but significant changes will occur.

Do not be too proud to take any and all assistance that is offered. “Care for the caregiver” is a very important concept.

Please keep us posted as how things are going.

ps. Do you think the Holy Spirit had anything to do with purchasing that particular house?


#12

You must be one special son to take on the care of your aged parents. Please remember, you are not alone! And I don’t mean your sister. There are support groups for children caring for their aged adult parents. If the decision is for them to remain with you in your home, check into "in home supportive services - part time caregivers that help out with basic activities of daily living (bathing, dressing), meals, light housekeeping, sometimes providing basic transportation to/from medical appointments. In Calif. this program is administered through the individual counties for lower income folks. There are also private agencies that provide the same services. Adult Day Health Centers, provide a day program of exercise and activities for frail seniors who live at home. Find a good and caring physician to care for mom and dad. Before your dad is discharged from the acute hospital, work with the discharge planners and social workers…they are there to help you,

If you find that you are not able to adequately meet their needs caring for them at home there are many alternatives to check out, Small board and care homes, assisted living, and skilled nursing facilities. Having worked in skilled nursing facilities for the last 25+ years, I see them as a place to live not as a place to die. A good nursing home will provide rehab services, well planned, nutritious and delicious meals, stimulating activities, friendships with their peers and some one to assist them 24/7. The parents who raised such a caring son probably don’t want you to sacrifice your life for them. They want to be able to spend quality time with you not to be a burden for you. Ask them what they want to do, you might be surprised by their answer. My grandmother always told her children when the time came she wanted to be placed in the “best little old ladies home” she could afford, That’s what they did and everybody was happy. She spent quality time with her children and grandchildren, got the help she needed and didn’t feel like she was a burden to anyone.

Take this time with your parents as a gift., I’ll be praying for you!


#13

It is hard for me to admit this, but this post nearly brought me to tears. Thank you so much! You are right. I love my parents and they have said repeatedly they do not want to be a burden. I just have to convince them they are not a burden. Rather, now I have a chance to repay what they did for me when they raised me.

It is a struggle trying toi determine what they can do and what they cannot. My father will be home from the hospital in a few days and I hope the situation will begin to fall into a normal routine.

God bless you for your prescient post.


#14

The best thing you can do for your parents is to love them and let them be as independent as possible. As I suggested, find them a good and caring doc., ask for a referral to every ancillary service their insurance will pay for… in other words, get them a good “tune up.” If dad is really as ill as he appears, he might benefit from being a hospice patient, allowing to live out his life and death with dignity and with your mom. I have friends who did this with all of their parents and had such a positive experience… Hospice did not hasten their deaths but helped to give them a quality of life so they could enjoy their time. They were able to be home and surrounded by family until the end. I know it maybe hard to talk to them about life end issues but you really need to know what they want, I’m not talking euthinasia (sp?) but just how far they want to take medical science. Sometimes quality has to weighed against quanitity. You should help them fill out a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (available from the hospital social worker), allowing someone to make health care decisions, if they are unable, and to state their wishes about end of life issues.
Do not be afraid to ask for help. People, who know you, will understand that you can’t take on this burden alone, and will come along side to help and support you. At the least, they can surround you in prayer!
Take every day one day at a time. There will be good days and bad days, but memories tend to be filtered and the good memories will out weigh the bad. And, possibly, you’ll look back and be able to laugh about the bad stuff.
A note about money…and you might need to make this clear to sis…anything your folks have is theirs and needs to be used to make their lives comfortable and the best it can be. I can tell by your writing you know this but I’m not so sure about sis. If there is nothing left when the folks are gone, then it is okay…it was their money and they needed it. It’s nice if there is an inheritance but it is even better to know their needs were taken care of. They gave you life, raised you, provided for you and now it is their turn.
But again, most of all…love them, hug them, laugh with them, pray with them, remember the good times, enjoy this time with them…it is God’s gift to you…
I’ve finished my ramble and am now on my way to work…taking care of frail elders!


#15

I forgot some resources that might be especially helpful for Mom. Is there a Lion’s Blind Center in your area? There are 2 in mine. They provide a social atmosphere and training to relearn how to function without vision. I know they have adaptive cooking, kitchen and household safety, mobility skills along with other activities of a more social nature,
Mom also might enjoy books from the Library for the Blind. I’m sure that Oregon must have this resource. This is is a free service, providing the player and everything you need. It’s especially nice if Mom was a “reader” and is missing this hobby. You dad might also enjoy them and it is a good change fro the TV. Anything and almost everything is available no matter what genre you are looking for. The public library is another great source for recorded books.
Remembering you in my prayers…


#16

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