Aging Parents

LothlorienLothlorien All Saints Host
edited February 2018 in All Saints
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  • Kind regards to all of those who are looking after their mother, father, or anyone else who is old and needs help. It's work just being present sometimes, let alone trying to help and also to avoid being frustrated and (gulp shudder guilt) wishing to be free of responsibility and even of them.

    I spent 3 hours this morning with my poppa at opthalmology re glaucoma. The blind eye and somewhat sighted eye have risen in pressure again, so we've 4 new eye drops, chucking out the old, and the obnoxious tablet (tingly fingers and losing his voice) are doubled. If this doesn't bring pressures down in 2 weeks, he's to get laser holes in his eye.

    I then went to work for a while, and was back again after to sit for a while while he talked and I tried to listen.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    No Prophet - I hope the doctors can do something to at least stop your dad's sight getting worse, even if it can't be improved.
    I then went to work for a while, and was back again after to sit for a while while he talked and I tried to listen.

    I think this is really important. I went to see my mother yesterday to take her to a hospital appointment. I deliberatly didn't comment when she went on about people stealing and that she thinks the tour rep she fell in love with six years ago might miraculously turn up at her 90th birthday party on Saturday, which made life much easier for both of us. One thing I find tricky is that she moves seemlessly from one topic to another as things suggest themselves in her mind. I'm deaf and its easy for me to miss vital clues when people talk so I get very confused myself sometimes as to whether something she is telling me is really happened or is something she's imagined. For instance she appeared to be telling me about her friend's business problems which seemed unlikely till I twigged she'd stopped talking about her friend and was talking about her daughter-in-law. They both have names that begin with J and I think that was the connection in her mind.
  • Sarasa

    My mum with moderate to severe dementia actually does not mentally keep people who are addressed by the same term separate. I am therefore sometimes my aunt, my father is sometimes her father (both addressed as Dad). It is confusing because Mum often does not know which she is talking about. I have heard her switch person mid sentence. Things like "Dad has gone fishing but will be back to help Mum cook the tea". Only my father was an angler.

    Jengie
  • NP, I had laser holes in my eyes for glaucoma and they worked a treat - only a bit uncomfortable while it was going on. Still on three different sets of eye drops, but the laser treatment was the easiest part.

    Mrs. S, duly grateful
  • Thanks Sarasa. It's hard to feel useful when I sit, just sit.

    Mrs S - he has a tube which is to drain fluid, micro valve thing. It was renovated and then they went in again to do a graft over it. It's a pretty nasty looking eye just now. Really hope something works. It's been ever since I retreived him after my mum died in 2009.

    Yes. Sit. Listen. I think tea is a fine suggestion too


  • JacobsenJacobsen Shipmate
    No prophet - as Milton said, "Thy also serve who stand and wait." A cliché by now, but also true. And not easy. All the best to you both.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host
    Sending supplies of virtual patience to all of you. :smile:
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    The rose bush I planted in memory of my late, awkward, AP bloomed with 12 flowers after the recent rain. It was his favourite rose, Freesia, and it reminded me how glad I was that we had time together over his last years to heal some of the rifts between us from longer ago. :cry: :heart:
  • LothlorienLothlorien All Saints Host
    edited March 2018
    That’s lovely, Huia.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Freesia is a beautiful rose, such a bright colour and full of rose scent. A good reminder of partings made whole.
  • I fear my father is becoming beached in his armchair. He and Mum had a strict segregation between malework and femalework which worked for them. Most days Dad had a single, big task - hedge trimming, grass cutting, clearing the gutters, creosoting the shed, hoovering the lock-block (I wish I was joking about the last one, but I'm not). Meanwhile Mum cooked, shopped, cleaned, laundered etc.

    Now Dad isn't fit enough for the big tasks, but can't take over any of the smaller tasks which Mum does because he is a man, and men don't do housework. The latest is that he has a patch of dry skin on his chin. Mum is applying E45 four times a day. When I suggested that Dad could do this for himself, Mum told me that it was women's work.

    I'm concerned that he is becoming depressed. He's not doing anything "useful." I feel that if he did something - made the 11am coffee, for example, it would get him out of the armchair and cheer him up. But Mum is adamant that she can't ask him to do that because that is her responsibility as his wife.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Oh dear NEQ that does sound like a problem, and one that will be tricky to solve, given
    things must have been set like that for the last sixty odd years. Are there things your dad can do from his armchair, sort out accounts or something? I'm jolly glad I married a man whose mother insisted that the men in the house did housework, cooking etc too. Mind you I don't do DIY as my efforts don't meet my husband's standards.
    We're on the countdown to the big party tomorrow. Already two people have sent regrets due to the weather, the keyholder of the hall suggested we move the party a week (noooooo!) and there has been a muddle about tablecloths. Most of this is being sorted out by my sister in law and I, but mum keeps phoning up to fret about various things and get muddled about what's happening. She seemed to think my sister in law was coming over today to set up the hall, never something that was ever mentioned.
  • NP, I'm so sorry your father's eye has had to have that level of treatment.

    NEQ and Sarasa - I wish I had helpful advice to offer. I don't, sad to say.

    Except to say, Sarasa, that The Dowager benefited greatly from a low dose of anti-anxiety drugs, which stopped her (for instance) from ringing me, many times, at 7 am, in June(!) to complain that the boiler wasn't working. Never mind that the immersion heater was doing just fine and that the last thing she needed was heating; she was just in a panic.

    At the moment she's still very tired - every time I ring, she has to be woken to speak to me. However, she's safe, warm and well-fed, which is really all I can ask for.

    Mrs. S, oozing empathy, if not able to do much else :smile:
  • In our family making drinks (not cooking) was men's work. Mind you changing a plug was women's.
  • Oh Sarasa - all the very best for the festivities!
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host
    Indeed, and happy birthday to your mum when the time comes!
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Thank you, my bag is packed, I've eaten breakfast and I'm about to head over to my mothers to do various pre-party things. We're off to my brothers after the party to carry on celebrating as we thought leaving mum on her own would make her feel a bit flat. That's when I'll be hitting
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Oops I'll be hitting the red wine.
  • All the best for today, Sarasa!
  • Hope it goes well, Sarasa.

    North East Quine - can you invent some new jobs for your father - like chief recorder and photographer of the family? That might also get him online posting his pictures for everyone to see.
  • Tree BeeTree Bee Shipmate
    I too hope that your Mum's party goes well Sarasa and that you can actually enjoy it. :star:
    (Had a play with the emojis looking for a wineglass. Star will have to do...)
  • edited March 2018
    Depression and anxiety aren't directly expressed sometimes by these older parents of ours are they?

    My father expresses very little. Even at the makeshift funeral of my mum, he showed and expressed nothing direct, talked of the natural beauty of where they lived in the central highlands in Mexico. Its like talking in metaphor. Well listening for us.

  • Believe me, my mother the Dowager never had any issues expressing her anxiety, whether to me on the phone or to her saint-like next-door neighbour! :smiley:

    (bring back the :killing me: emoticon!)

    Sadly, I called her yesterday and the 'maidservant' (I suspect Mum's been told that they aren't nurses and can't get to grips with 'carers') didn't wait to make sure she could hear me when she handed over the phone.

    So, we have me, bellowing down the phone 'TRY THE OTHER EAR' and the Dowager saying 'I can't hear you, love - well, if everyone's all right, I'll leave it at that' and hanging up :confounded:

    I'll have to try again today but I get no sense of how she IS, over the phone, and the weather has been too flaky (see what I did there?) to risk a two-and-a-half-hour drive along the A303 over Salisbury Plain and down the back roads :frowning:

    <votive> for everyone and their APs - Sarasa, I hope the party was a success? My brother used to joke that once you'd had one for an Aged Relative, you could just photoshop the cake to change the age and tell them the week after what a great party it had been <devil>

    Mrs.S, very tempted
  • Oh this thread. I can’t even think how to start.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    I read this thread often. All five of our aging parents have now passed away but we had years of many kinds of anguish with them all. This thread was a great help and support through it all.

    So I read, remember and think of you all :heartbreak:
  • I'm so glad, Boogie - I have friends in RL who say just knowing it's happening to other people is a real comfort (it isn't just MY mother, it isn't just ME!). Sometimes it can feel self-indulgent to moan about one's AP, but better here than anywhere else, really.

    Mrs. S, :heart: for all
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host
    We're now down to one AP between us (D's mum), and I'm more worried about her than D. is (his view is that as long as his sister isn't too worried, neither is he). We saw her this past week, and I found that she didn't really make an awful lot of sense: she seems to speak in unrelated non-sequiturs. It probably didn't help that my hearing (not the best these days anyway) was further impaired by a combination of flying and flu, but I found that I really couldn't make much sense of anything she said.

    Physically she's not at all bad (she turned 89 on Monday), and she can still drive and live by herself, but I wonder how much longer that'll last, as she is very easily confused and becoming very forgetful.
  • Piglet, my SiL is more concerned about the Dowager than my brother is, and the same seems to be true for Sarasa's brother/Sil combination - is this just a m/f thing? :heart: anyway for all with APs you don't know how worried to be about (?syntax?)

    Did you actually sample her driving?! last time I went out and made the Dowager drive, I found myself behaving like a driving instructor - 'how about changing out of second? put your foot down a bit' and I thought then she ought to give up *sigh*

    Mrs. S, wondering how long she has herself
  • I think it tends to be a female-male thing: many men look at aging parents wanting to see that nothing is required/ wrong because they're scared of what might be involved for them. Selfish, I know, but true.

    Both of my parents died with little warning and that alone causes its own problems. But then we were faced with a second marriage and a partner who wouldn't communicate with us when our mother became ill (nor after, come to that). On my papa's side of the family people tend to live long and, by-and-large, healthy lives: out of 8 siblings in the my grandmother's generation only 2 didn't make it past 90, none developed dementia and 4 lived alone well right up to the end.

    On the driving front: my mother was a nightmare even in her early 60s: she'd choose a gear for the day and stick to it. The other side of the coin was an aged great-aunt who got her last speeding ticket at 97 (she was in a hurry) and who was the safest driver around.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    We're back from the party celebrations. the whole thing went pretty well all things considered. The weather meant that a few old friends couldn't make it, but those that did enjoyed it as did my mum. We then went over to my brothers for the night and then out for Sunday lunch today. Thank God for my sister in law. She works with A list celebrities and was a total whizz at making grumpy old ladies (including mum) cheerful and smoothing out problems with caterers etc.
    I do think my brother and SiL do share my concerns about mum, but still probably think she is better able to cope than she does. I left her with them talking about holidays. No way am I letting mum go on holiday by herself this year, but they seem to think if a suitable holiday is found it might be a possibility. Mum sounds very much like Piglet's mother in law with the rambling randon observations, when you add being nearly blind into the mix it is amazing that she manages to cope as well as she does. I also agree that deafness on the part of the listener doesn't help. Today over lunch mum kept telling me odd facts. I thought she'd toally lost it until it was pointed out that my eight year old nephew was trying to get us to play chinese whispers.
    Next hurdle is a doctors appointment on Friday. Her GP said he wanted to see mum after her operation last month and she was going last Tuesday till the bad weather made her re-schedule. I'm going to turn up and go to to try and start the process of getting either a formal diagnosis of dementia sorted or working out what else it is that is causing her deletions, forgetfulness etc. etc.
  • LothlorienLothlorien All Saints Host
    Some years ago, my husband insisted I go with his mother to my son’s place as she said she could not find it by herself. She had always been a dreadful driver and this drive showed no improvement in reflexes etc. however when she told me that she would not have come out at all that day had she known how many giddy turns she would have, I was terrified. I refused to go back with her and left her to find her own way home. This was not callous, we were not far from a place she often had driven to in the past. After reaching there, she still had an hour to drive to return to her home

  • Oh Loth x
  • Lily PadLily Pad Shipmate
    Sarasa, so glad that the party went well and that you have made it through. Give yourself a pat on the back!

    I'm not sure if I mentioned this before or not, I certainly thought I should have, but it is often a good strategy to make a little note and place it in an envelope before you go to an appointment like that. Then, if your mother gets upset at you "butting in" or won't discuss the issue, you can sweetly tell the dr that you'd like them to have it to explain the situation further. If things really don't go well, just pass it to the dr and say to have a look later.

    In the note, you can explain your observations of your mother, the issues as they relate to her health and safety and your phone number should the dr wish any further information from you. If you wish to, mention that you would like to accompany your mother to appointments and know more about her medications or treatment plans. If your mother has not declared you as her next of kin, etc., now is the time to do so.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host
    ... Did you actually sample her driving?!
    No - I think she really only drives herself to the supermarket and the bank these days: places she knows well. I find myself worrying that she'll forget something vital like what a red traffic light means ... :worried:
  • That's the argument The Dowager used for a long time; but when I realised later how bad her vision was I went all cold thinking about it afterwards. This, after all, was the woman who reversed off her drive into her neighbour's car, stationary in the middle of the road, because it shouldn't have been there!

    Lily Pad - that's a really good idea!

    Mrs. S, glad the car days are behind her
  • FirenzeFirenze Heaven Host
    Piglet wrote: »
    I find myself worrying that she'll forget something vital like what a red traffic light means ... :worried:

    That was the problem with an aged rellie R - she was physically able to drive, eyesight fine, but she would forget where it was she was driving to, or why.
  • The reason my great grandmother was prevented from taking to the roads was she was seen by a policeman on traffic detail driving back and forth, obviously turning around and coming back, rinse, repeat, on the road from home to the nearest town. When the policeman asked what was going on, she wailed she couldn't remember which direction she needed to get home, it all looked the same.
  • Lily PadLily Pad Shipmate
    Firenze wrote: »
    Piglet wrote: »
    I find myself worrying that she'll forget something vital like what a red traffic light means ... :worried:

    That was the problem with an aged rellie R - she was physically able to drive, eyesight fine, but she would forget where it was she was driving to, or why.

    For the past couple of years, my dad has been just starting to lose his short term memory and search for words. He is 82. Yesterday, out of the blue, we had a great discussion about it. He remarried after my mom died and she has a nice clear mind. I notice that he drives but she often navigates. I worry about what little slips he is making when I am not there to notice but trust she will get him there. After watching my mother stress horribly over her mother, I give him his space.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Thank you for your suggetions about taking a note to the GPs Lily Pad. I'll do that as I think it could be very useful, and it should save mum getting too cross with me. We sorted out Lasting Power of Attorney last year for both finances and health., and though we haven't actually used it yet I think it is time we started letting GP, banks etc know.
    I've had a message from my brother about how amazing mum is and how we ought to be arranging lots of things she'd like while we can. For instance my sister in law is organising the three of us going to a tea dance so mum can have the 'proper' dance she didn't have at her party. Though she did shimmy around to 'Don't stop me now' before cutting her cake, what she really wants is to dance the Argentine tango with a good-looking young man. Although I agree, I think we've also go to do the hard things like ensuring she is actually safe to still live on her own without help.
  • And that, Sarasa, is why your brother can be Golden Boy, and not you!

    I went to see some friends the other day- he had a serious stroke three years ago which affected his speech badly, and he was a garrulous person! We were chatting away about a book I'd lent him, and sailing,and so on, he was really animated. But his poor wife, needing to get him to clean his teeth, go for walks etc, never heard him chatting to her like that. So :heart: for all of us Marthas!

    Get some copies certified of your LPOA, Sarasa, as well - if you are dealing with organisations at a distance, it's not a good idea to send your only copy by post! I found a solicitor nearby who did the copies at £5 apiece.

    As for eyesight preventing people driving, I think all opticians should routinely ask patients if they are still driving. The Dowager went with a neighbour the time they found her macular degeneration, and I think the optician never even considered that this old, old lady might still have a car :astonished:

    Mrs. S, reminding herself it's Mothering Sunday soon!
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    edited March 2018
    And that, Sarasa, is why your brother can be Golden Boy, and not you!
    To give mum her due a lot of people at the party commented on how often she says how lovely I am etc. While being a distinct improvement on being told they didn't know mum had a daughter as they'd only heard about her son, which has happened in the past, I do wish mum would actually believe what I tell her about people not stealing etc. I know that's wishful thinking and I'm trying to let her say these things and then talk about something else entirely. It's jolly hard though.
  • Well, good, Sarasa - though it might be even nicer if she said that to you, to your face, in person!

    I went to visit the Dowager yesterday, and almost the first thing she said to me - after 'I was just despairing...' which she greets me with almost every time, no matter when I roll up! -
    was 'so how long are you going to keep up this pretence?' I was gobsmacked - what has she found out about, that I've been keeping from her? (there's a lot!) Eventually I extracted from her that she thought 'our side of the family' was involved in some plot to overthrow the government, or perhaps just with a Welsh separatist movement !"£$%^&*(!

    Now, both my children are middle-ranking civil servants, one at the Wales Office and one in the MOD - did she conflate this with something off the news, or just St. David's Day, I wonder? Whatever it was, she told me she was very relieved to hear she'd made it all up.

    What I find more heartbreaking than the delusions is the complete loss of volition - she has a TV, a radio, books, crosswords, letters and cards, but she is bored because she doesn't even open a drawer or press a button. People bring her sweets, but she doesn't think to eat them.
    She knows she should walk - use it or lose it - but would never think of actually getting up and practising, up and down the corridor. And as for choosing her meals - I think half the time she just picks the last selection they offer her. She wants someone to amuse her, because she can't amuse herself. If you'd known her as she was even a few years ago... :heartbreak:

    Mrs. S, PA and court jester

  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host
    I have a feeling that nursing homes have that effect. When Mum was first in the geriatric ward, they'd get her dressed and she'd sit in a fancy wheelchair/armchair thing in the conservatory where she could see the garden, and Dad would bring her books, newspapers, magazines and crosswords (which she had loved), but after a depressingly short time, she seemed to lose all interest in them, and eventually he gave up.

    Much the same happened to Dad; although someone brought his favourite newspaper in each day, and he had his own TV in his room, he didn't seem to have any interest in either.

    I don't blame the staff in these places - for the most part they're wonderful - but there's a limit to how much attention they can give to each patient, and I think that after a while the patient's ability to have an interest in anything starts to wane.

    Are there any activities in the Dowager's place, such as bridge, chess, local musicians coming in to entertain them? Would she be interested if there were?
  • cliffdwellercliffdweller Shipmate
    edited March 2018
    Piglet wrote: »
    I have a feeling that nursing homes have that effect. When Mum was first in the geriatric ward, they'd get her dressed and she'd sit in a fancy wheelchair/armchair thing in the conservatory where she could see the garden, and Dad would bring her books, newspapers, magazines and crosswords (which she had loved), but after a depressingly short time, she seemed to lose all interest in them, and eventually he gave up.

    Much the same happened to Dad; although someone brought his favourite newspaper in each day, and he had his own TV in his room, he didn't seem to have any interest in either.

    I don't blame the staff in these places - for the most part they're wonderful - but there's a limit to how much attention they can give to each patient, and I think that after a while the patient's ability to have an interest in anything starts to wane.

    Are there any activities in the Dowager's place, such as bridge, chess, local musicians coming in to entertain them? Would she be interested if there were?


    In my moms case it was temporary. For the first year she was in a care facility, she was mad as a hornet. Understandably so, just a few weeks prior she'd been healthy, independent. But she took her anger out on everyone-- everyone-- for that year. Nothing made her happy. She was horrible to those who tried to care for her, whether paid staff or relatives who'd traveled great distances or given up careers to help her. She too was sure everyone was stealing from her. She was critical and harsh, making impossible demands, and of course constantly demanded to go home

    Then I came into visit her one day and she said "I have something to tell you." Fearing the worst, I sat down. She proceeded to tell me God had told her she'd b here the rest of her life, so she'd better get on with it. And she did

    she was her old self-- kind, cheerful, interested in other people. When I came to visit, instead of accusing the staff of stealing, she'd tell me which of the nurses had adorable twin toddlers, and who was putting their son thru medical school.

    It's a kind of death, I think, to enter a care facility. Everyone grieves differently but it's never pretty

  • Piglet, there is entertainment morning and afternoon and the staff do their best to persuade her to join in, because she is comparatively compos mentis (!). But she despises them as 'primary school games' regardless of the fact that she isn't mentally capable of playing anything more demanding - I don't think she could even play bingo, which she despises, without help. Personal, one-to-one attention (preferably more than one!) is what she desires/demands.

    Cliffdweller, my mum complained about everything, but she never demands to go home (and indeed never even refers to 'home' any more). I'm sure she feels that she is more isolated, but really the difference is that she is no longer able to go out and pester the neighbours at 7 am to come and fix her television! And to be fair, in gratitude, they do come and visit her.

    How much of this is due to her recent illness, I don't know - but I am sure that if she had been that ill at home she would have ended up in hospital, or dead.

    Mrs. S, grateful for all your support :heart:

  • It's a kind of death, I think, to enter a care facility. Everyone grieves differently but it's never pretty

    [/quote]
    Ouch. How true

  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    Mrs S I found it heart breaking when my mother had a Urinary tract infection and made similar comments to the Dowager's Welsh nationalist one. She recovered from that, but a few years later when she was dying of lung cancer she sometimes slipped into a similar state. The worst for me was, "What daughter, I don't have a daughter."

    My Dad was taken into care in an emergency situation and he resented it greatly at the time but after arguing with the nurse in charge he came to really respect her and enjoy the other people there. It helped that many of the residents came from the valley where he had lived over 50 years and he and one of the other men used to swap stories of local shenanigans. When he died in the Public hospital the residents supported us adult children as if they were our uncles and aunts. :cry:

    Huia

  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Like Mrs S, I'm very grateful for the support here.

    I took mum to the doctors this morning and it went as well as I think it probably could. I got there early so I could drop my letter to the GP off before I went to her flat, thank you for that suggestion Lily Pad. I thought mum might query why I was going to her GPs with her, but she seemed to expect it.

    I've heard a lot about her GP over the years but not met him before, he was lovely and I can see why she likes him. He did the MMSE test and mum scored 26 so well within normal. I thought she'd do that as she is good at answering simple questions, I think you have to be with her for some time to see how confused she can be. The GP did order blood and urine tests though after reading my letter about our concerns. Before we went she told him her story about being given an injection against her will when she was in hospital for her minor operation last month that made her feel like she was dying. As neither he nor I were there we can't say if it really happened, but he was very sympathetic about it all. He wants to see her in three months time to re-test her memory.

    After that we went and did some shopping and I went back to her palce to sort out a few things and do an on-line supermarket order for her. She is still convinced that people are stealing. Apparently they are coming in and spraying her nice perfume about. I'm going to try not to go over next week to see how well she can manage for a period on her own, my guess is not very well.
  • Lily PadLily Pad Shipmate
    Good for you! Well done! Nice to have the dr on board.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host
    It's a kind of death, I think, to enter a care facility ...
    I agree. When Mum died, we were taken with how calm Dad seemed to be, and I think it was because he'd done a good chunk of his grieving ten years before, when she went into hospital. He knew it was the best place for her to be, but that didn't stop it breaking his heart to leave her there every night.

    I think by the time she died he'd reconciled himself to the situation, and the night before her funeral we all went out for dinner and he was like his old self.
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