Sorry for the long post.
I am a 46 year old man, the second youngest of 6 kids. Originally from the St. Louis area, we have scattered a bit. My sister is the only relative I have who lives near me. I have one brother in Alaska, two others who remain in the St. Louis area and I have one brother who prefers to live under a bridge, whereabouts unknown, generally. I am divorced, live alone (well almost), and expect a ruling on my annulment in about a year.
My parents are both 83 and will celebrate their 60th anniversary this December. When my dad retired, my parents, like so many other retirees, wanted a nicer climate. The Midwest climate was just too much and they wanted to enjoy their new freedom. So they moved to Anchorage Alaska.
Old age has caught up with them. My mother, whose hobbies were photography and reading at least 6 newspapers a day, lost her eyesight to macular degeneration. She also has heart disease and many other health problems common with the elderly. So my mom eats a low fat, low sodium, low cholesterol diet.
My father, a heavy smoker for 70 years, is now on oxygen 24/7. He does not have heart disease. Eating is difficult for my father because he has lost all his teeth. Combine that with only 15% lung capacity and he would get too tired while eating. So he quit eating! About 6 weeks ago, he suffered a serious of very minor heart attacks due to starvation. This formerly 5’11" man weighed 100 pounds. He has since gained about 10 pounds and quit smoking. My father has low blood pressure, enviable cholesterol levels, but is frighteningly underweight. He needs a high sodium high protein, high fat diet, the opposite of my mother’s. I once quipped to a doctor that I should feed him a stick of butter. He said “If you can get him to eat it, do it.”
After my father had his mild heart attack last month, my sister flew to Anchorage and essentially forced them to move down here. Her real plan was to get them into a nursing home. Despite her mid-six figure income, she forced her very own parents to reimburse her for her travel expenses!
Anyway, she called me ordered me to take time off work and help them move. I did not even know she was there and what was going on. She told me it was their idea to move and why should she be stuck doing everything. (She did not have to order me, I would have been happy to volunteer!) I flew there, bundled my dad onto a plane and drove my mother down in my dad’s car. It became clear on the drive down that my parents could not really make it on their own anymore and that my sister wanted to institutionalize them.
It was several days before we got back to Portland and my dad was staying with my sister. That was all the time it took for my sister to “prove” they needed to be institutionalized. She was shocked when I told her that I had already invited them to stay with me and strongly discouraged it.
My one-story house with the three of us would work out well. I knew they did not need that much help. They are bright and alert; so what if they move slowly. They need help with meals, shopping, cleaning up and a few other things. Also helping to coordinate their health care is important.
Shopping is an adventure. Dad hates it. Mom uses those motorized carts available in many stores. But there is a problem. My mother is legally blind. She has her peripheral vision, but she cannot see anything she looks at directly and her depth perception is quite poor. And she likes to drive those scooters at full speed!
My dad is a WWII combat vet and qualifies for VA of benefits that help both my parents. While none of us are wealthy by any stretch, money is not tight.
We all get along pretty well, but my personal life has come to an abrupt and complete end. I have had to drop out of all my pursuits, weekly Bible study, weekly spiritual direction and my ballroom dancing as well. I have not been able to make daily Mass very often since they arrived and I really miss it.
And I can pretty much forget about dating.
Anyway, I just thought I would start this thread about those who are the primary care givers for their elderly parents or grandparents. I am not really looking for advice, as we have things under control. I guess I was looking for experiences and difficulties that others have had.
For example, here is a problem I encountered over the last few days. I was in excruciating pain for the last two days and was in the hospital. One possible diagnosis was gall stones. I became quite concerned. What if I needed surgery? How would my parents get along before I was able to help them again? Fortunately, it was an intestinal blockage which has cleared and I have recovered.
While I was at the hospital, my mom grazed from the fridge eating only those foods guaranteed to shorten her life, accidentally making a mess in the process, the cats did not get fed for 2 days and my father did not eat nor changed his clothes or bathe. Sigh.
What are the experiences of others?