OK, I checked my mom and dad into the hotel last night. My dad was a mailman for 30 years, he drove an armored car as a part time job, he volunteered for meals-on-wheels for years - he knows this city, especially this side of town like the back of his hand. When we were getting ready to leave yesterday I told him exactly where the hotel was in case we got seperated, and all he could say was "I don't know". It's only 8 miles from home, he worked at the post office two blocks away for 10 years. I tried to talk them into letting me drop them off and they use a cab if they wanted to go somewhere, but NO, they had to have their car so they would have the freedom to go whenever, where ever. So they followed me over there yesterday, me going dad's speed which is 10 miles under the speed limit, and pulling over whenever a car got between us, and slowing almost to a stop at any stop light I thought might be changing so I didn't make it through and they didn't. It was a very stressful 20 minutes. After they were in their room I went to the front desk and got a menu from every restuarant that delivered to the hotel (it didn't have it's own restuarant, which sucks) but my dad refused to spend the money for delivery. I called a couple of hours after I got home and they had found a restuarant, had a very nice meal and were fine.
Today at 1pm as I was getting ready to take Jasmine out the front door to get to the back yard I saw them drive by. I knew they had come to our neighborhood to have lunch. They didn't stop - there were trucks, and trailers everywhere. but I thought, well maybe it is good that they have their car and can get out during the day. Four hours later, at 5pm they were at the front door, they had been trying to find their hotel all this time. I KNEW I should get in my car and lead them back there, but I didn't want to. And they didn't think I needed to, so I told them the directions, I wrote them down, I highlighted the route on their city street map, I had them repeat the directions to me, I gave them the telephone number of the front desk at the hotel in case they had any problem, and I let them go off. Now an hour and a half later they still aren't there, and the hotel hasn't heard from them. I am feeling so guilty, and I'm not sure what to do for them. Call the police? Go out and look for them myself?
Jojo.... your parents can not remember what you told them, they can not interpret the written directions, and everything that was once familiar is now very unfamiliar. They do not need to be in a hotel alone and they should not be out driving around. Dear, this is your day of reckoning. It is blatantly obvious that they are incapable of taking care of themselves.
I do know how upset you must be because I was in your same situation. Mom and Dad were lost for 14 hours. I had ever police department in every county along their route alerted. They eventually show up and could not understand what all the fuss was about.
So take today as a learning experience and know that they can not be leaft on their own, especially in a strange place. They can not be given directions, no matter how thorough and be expected to successfully accomplish them. Your Dad's driving is enough to tell you that he is unsure of his own ability to drive even if he won't admit it to you.
Having your parents in a strange place is the best time to see exactly what they are capable of. In their home they can function off past memory but in the hotel they don't have that past memory to guide them. They are worse than you think. I wish I knew how many times I have heard this same scenario when I was working in long term care. Mom and Dad were fine at home but once they moved into an apartment it was obvious that they needed a lot more care than the children thought.
I do hope you find them soon because I know how worried you must be. I am not sure how large your city is and what the changes are of you finding them. They may show back up at home and somebody needs to be there as well as the hotel watching for them. It might be best for you to alert the police if they don't show up soon. Things that were familiar to your dad before are no longer familiar so do what you have to do to find them.
It's 8:00 eastern standard time for me so I do hope by this time you have found them. I don't remember so refresh my memory -- are you an only child?
If you are not an only child, you MUST pull your sibling into this mess NOW
If you are an only child, do you have aunts, uncles, cousins who can help you by being at the house during this work so you can be with your parents?
AND MOST OF ALL -- DISABLE THE DANG CAR!!!!! if the car doesn't work, they can't be in it. You are fooling yourself honey and you are desperate to not shorten their world but you have to. Don't know if you know the following so I will hope for understanding from everyone else while I tell you a story!
My girlfriend was grocery shopping, finished and was putting them in the back portion of her station wagon when she heard an engine roar to life LOUD. she looked up in time to see a car barrelling down upon her. Luckily she shoved her son out of its path and out of harms way but she took the force of the car entirely on her own. It pinned her to the bumper of her car and shattered her legs from the knees down. She can now walk but she has rods and screws holding the knees to her ankles. She was in massive pain and rehabilitation for months! The woman who hit her -- someone in her 80's. After the accident, the woman left the car running, on to of my girlfriend and simply, quietly, walked back into the store. Once inside she asked if she can use the phone and called her son -- not 911
Thankfully the rescue squad was nearby heard her screams and came to her aid.
DGabriel's Mom was driving and backed out of the driveway and ran over the neighbor's garden status of a little girl -- luckily it wasn't a real kid.
Others had horror stories to add.
PLEASE either take the keys from your dad. Tell him he can't drive anymore and that's that! or get someone over to disable his car by pulling the wires or something. Do not let them drive.
They showed up here at 7pm ET, they had stopped to eat on their way to the hotel, it had gotten dark while they were eating and they couldn't find their way, again. I told them I was driving them back there in their car and I needed dad's keys. I packed them the makings of sandwiches, fruit, canned soup that they can microway, and milk. The hotel serves a free breakfast buffet. Tomorrow night the hotel serves a free dinner, so they have food until Thurs. lunch.
I have both their keys, I took Mom's out of her purse when we got back to the hotel. Right now I don't think my mom ever wants to get into another car again.
My uncle was 90 when he gave up driving after getting lost on the LA freeway. I always thought that if they ever got lost while driving they would know that meant they shouldn't be on the road. But no, not my Dad. He acts like it's no big deal that he spent 4 hours, and then over another hour trying to find a place he had just driven to the day before, in an area he should know by heart. So yes, this is my time of reckoning.
I'm not an only child, but my brother's dead and my younger sister lives in New Mexico (I'm in Indianapolis). I'm getting ready to email my 4 adult children and make plans to keep the car and car keys at one of their houses. By the time mom and dad get back from the hotel the car won't be here. Even if I have to park it in the shopping center for a few days, it won't be here.
I do need to be here during the repairs, or at least when they first show up and before they leave. They didn't do anything to the closet ceiling, they are supposed to do that tomorrow. They didn't do anything to the laundry room ceiling, they plan to paint it with Kilz - a sealer, but I'm not sure I want the moldy insulation up there. So I need to deal with that tomorrow. I have no one to free to help me either here or at the hotel, everyone is working. So I'm hoping that they will be ok on their own in their room for most of the time. Yesterday it really did feel like I had dropped my two 8 years olds off and left them on their own in a hotel, so I'm probably in denial about this but, to be honest I am really craving some time here without them.
I know that fear. My Mom got lost walking around New York City when I lived with her, and we could not find her for many many hours. Finally she got home somehow, she had no idea where she had been. That day after I got my blood pressure back to only 30 points above normal, I realized I could never leave my Mom home alone again. Never let her go out alone, Never let her stay somewhere else unless someone there was willing to keep an eye on her and keep her from wandering off.
Our lives changed. We hired an Aide to shadow her everywhere she went in the daytime while I was at work. At night I was the caregiver. No sleep, no rest. It was awful.
She got lost in the neighborhhood where she had lived for 70 years, waiting for the same bus she took every day to the Senior Center for the last 25 years, and walking up and down streets she knew like the back of her hand.
It was my final wake up call .. after less than a year she was in a nursing home and what a relief!
No more driving for your Dad. Please, get him off the road. He has forgotten the basics of safery or direction, and written instructions may as well be in Swahili - he has no idea what it means.
A good assisted living is my suggestin, later switching to a nursing home. No more car. Someone has to drive them everywere they need to go.
Oh I know how hard it is. The fear, the reluctance to cramp their life style, the criticism from relatives who disagree. My sister said let her wander around! it s better to get lost and be free. It is better to be hit by a truck and dead, but free.
I feel for you, I really do. I pray you will work this out.
Jojo... I am so glad that your parents showed back up!!! Yes, today was a wake up call. The car must go. Everybody has their moment when they realize that driving is out of the question. Mine was the crushed garden statue of the thee little girls that mom backed over and never noticed. I just say thank you daily that it was not a child. Dad drove off one night and hours later returned with no idea where he had been or how he got back home. He was not supposed to be driving at all but had gotten Mom's keys and was gone. They were also lost for 14 hours coming home from the Cabin. My uncle headed home from a visit with relatives in another town. He had made that 2 hour trip 100's of times before. Two days later he showed up at the police department. He had found the town he had lived in for over 50 years but couldn't find his house. I just talked to a family friend last night that told me his Dad decided to drive east for Oysters... and was lost for 4 days. Yes, we all get our wake up call and this was yours I am just so glad that nothing major happened to them.
The next think you have to be watchful of is them walking off. If they decide it is time to go they will. And do not be surprised when they don't understand how to open and heat the soup. It seems so simple to us. I remember finding cans of opened soup in the cabinet that were solidified in the can. Mom had obviously opened them, not known what to do with them, and put them back in the cabinet. You might want to ask the hotel staff to alert you if they try to leave the hotel and check on the often. You will probably want to call them and remind them to go down to eat and then call to make sure they have left, or check with the desk to see if they are downstairs eating. Hopefully they will stay put until you can get them back home.
In the mean time... check out the AL availability in your area. It's better to be prepared than to be caught short when the time comes
Again... I am so glad that they are safely back in the hotel
CaringSister, before I read the posts following yours, I want to say that the story you shared is my worst nightmare. If one or both of my parents were killed in an accident, I would mourn, but I could accept that they died doing what was important to them - maintaining their freedom. But if they hurt or maimed or killed someone else, I don't know how I could live with that. That being so, it seems like it would be easier for me to do whatever is needed to get them from behind the wheel, but I've never been sure that my fears or my assessment of their driving skills are that valid or even accurate. After all, my dad passed a 45 minute, very thorough evaluation by the bureau of motor vehicles just 3 months ago. However, being lost in a familiar part of the city he's lived, worked and driven in for 75 years is irrefutable (don't know how to spell that). To be lost for 4 hours, and not call home for help is hard to comprehend. I remember so clearly when I first posted on here and you told me GET THEM OFF THE ROAD!, and I thought, well that's easier said than done. But now it's easier done than not done. I know I will probably need support and encouragement and a towel, and my big girl pants, as I go throught the steps that follow this awakening. But I know you guys will get me through!
That we will jojo.... this group got me thought many rough spots and we are all here for you as well.
It is not the actual driving that is the problem. They know how to steer the car and brake. The function of driving doesn't go away quickly. It is the thought process needed to finding their way or knowing what to do in an emergency that is the problem. It is hitting something and driving off without realizing the harm they have done. It is getting lost and not being able to find their way home. Or they might forgetto stop at a stop sign, over correct when they run off the road or pull out in front of oncoming traffic. Or as my grandmother did once.... just part the car in the middle of the street, get out, and go in a store. Or as my mom did.... hit a parked car and drive off.
You are right that at first we all want to leave them with as much freedom and independence as possible. The insidious way this disease waxes and wanes leads us astray. On top of that the individual's ability to cover for their deficiencies and the fact that they are so sure they are fine lulls us. So it takes something like today for reality to hit us full face.
No, it's not going to be easy but it can be done. I listened to my parents (Dad in particular) demend his van back until I wanted to torch the think. He kicked me out of the will, called me every name in the book, and literally called 911 and reported it stolen. We left the van at my sister's house and told him that she was getting the AC fixed and then getting a break fluid leak fixed and then something different. Once he was in the locked unit we actually let him have his key, knowing he couldn't get outside and that the van was 150 miles away. Brace yourself because Dad went on and on about that van for about 2 years.... but he never drove it again. The good news is that now he never mentions the van. It is a think of the past
So grab a hand full of towels and know we are all hanging on to the other end of them. If nothing else we will give you a trailer load to cover up the car
In my case, my mom had a hit and run accident. She was required to return to the police department and show proof of insurance and registration. She did this all on her own, hiding it from my sister who lived with her.
i saw the damage to the van but Mom swore she came out of a grocery store and found the van like that.
However this just added to the other incidents I got calls about and thought my sister was handling. They were:
1) In NJ there are sometimes a left-turning lane but you have to wait for that lane (only) to get their green light to make turns. My mother made turns when the other lanes had their green light and not her, therefore she was turning with on-coming traffic.
2) She was going the wrong way down one-way streets
3) She was found stopped in the middle of an intersection with cars honking all around her. People said she looked like she had no idea where she was or where she was going.
My sister was in denial BIG TIME and also while being home all day, didn't feel she wanted to be 'put upon' to have to take Mom out, so Mom just kept driving.
Well, with the hit and run and police involvement, my sister came over and got me because i was always the bad seed anyway. I told my mother this wasn't up for debate, she was no longer driving period. I went into her purse, grabbed her keys, removed the car key from the ring, told my sister to get the van registered in her name and on her insurance and I was driving it from that point on.
If it wasn't sitting there, Mom wouldn't be tempted. My mother didn't like it but I said "tough". My sister was bent out of shape, I said "tough" and that was that.
The next insurance statement came in and because of leaving the scene of an accident, my mothers insurance went up to $8,000. a year! for a car that was 10 years old and for which she was previously paying $800. and that $8k would've been for a 3-year term which would've added up!
Check me out on this guys...from what I've been hearing you say there is no point in a family intervention or trying to reason with them. I am in possession of both sets of keys (a really unexpected advantage for me) and my daughter is going to help me get the car to her house. They have no way to get it back, and I'm leaving all the car keys with my daughter.
BUT, I think you've also advised me to avoid confrontation, and this is going to be a BIG confrontation. By the time they find out in a few days I'm sure they won't have gone downhill enough to believe that the car's being worked on, was loaned to someone or just disappeared...so I'm going to have to tell them I made the decision that they can no longer drive. I'm guessing you will tell me I just have wait out the reaction THAT will cause. If they disown me, write me out of the will, insist I leave - whatever, I just keep to my decision. Right????
I think I will tell them that they can do whatever they want to try to get my decision overturned - call their lawyer, their doctor, the police - and I won't take it personally, but I won't help them do it in any way. I honestly don't think they are capable of even making the effort. If they tell me to leave, do I do that or do I just refuse? Maybe I shouldn't spend too much time in trying to anticipate what the fallout of this might be, maybe I need to just go through it step by step, day by day, hour by hour.
I have talked to a couple of the assisted living facilities and I'm wanting to wait until after Christmas before I meet with them in person. I'm starting to think in terms of 6 months to a year instead of 2-3 years down the road for this to need to happen. I've also talked to my aunt (dad's sister) this morning and she is backing me on the car and the assisted living - she thinks both things need to happen right now. Even though she's 10 years younger than dad, she's the one person who's opinion he trusts. So I'm gathering my resources.
You not only have this on your plate to work with -- what I'm talking about is the Assisted Living and car stuff -- but you need to identify what you will do when they go to Assisted Living?
Will you 'rent' the house from them? Will you be able to keep the house going without them there and is there money for the Assisted Living place?
You may have to sell; if so, where does that place you?
I'm not advocating not doing anything because it keeps a roof over your head because the work involved with their caregiving is a lot more than we can adequately convey and no 'roof over head' could ever be worth it.
Our towels are being sent to you to wrap yourself in. Its going to be a very bumpy ride for you but definitely have the Aunt in the room when you tell parents about car! I would hold off regarding telling them anything about the Assisted Living place.
You could fool them and tell them that you want to visit a few places because you are thinking of going there yourself. Maybe when they see the place and the activities and such, they may be telling you that they are moving! Especially after all the headache they're going through with the construction now.
Jojo, it is best to avoid confrontation but you also have to pick your battles. If Mom wants to wear her bra over her dress, what's the harm? If Dad wants to drive off into the sunset you know the harm!! So this is a battle worth fighting and you must win no matter what it takes.
You do need to realize that even if you convince Dad that he can't drive today, he ill probably not know it tomorrow and you will re-fight the battle. You can not internalize or take personally anything that Dad or Mom says in their confused state of anger that this will cause. They are NOT railing at you but at the disease that is taking their independence and freedom away bit by bit. You are just standing there to absorb their anger. They have nowhere else to vent that anger so don't take it as strike against you but as a benefit to them to give them a place to release their frustration.
My Dad actually has some reasoning ability left in his vascular dementia riddled brain. There were days I could convince him that repairs were being done on the car, I was there and could take him where he wanted to go, and all was ok. There were other days that I just had to listen to him rail about that fipping van. All the threats went in one ear and out the other. I used diversion when possible, excuses when they seemed to ring true in his riddled brain, and sometimes I just ignored it until the railing went away. But what helped the most was what we called the "Happy Pill". Something for the anxiety that his new world created for him. If Mom and Dad had physical pain you would treat that with pain meds. Their frustration and anxiety causes them emotional pain. So you need to treat that emotional pain as well. Medication is not for you (thought it will make your life easier) but for them and their emotional pain as they adjust to this new world they find themselves in.
On this one (car and even the AL) you are right... hold your ground and keep your decision. No matter what they threaten just hang in there. Hang on to your towels and your sanity because it's going to be a bumpy right. Just keep your determination, avoid confrontation as much as possible, and don't take what is said to you to heart I so feel for you because I know the road you travel.... I have been there. And guess what... you can survive it!
It's always good to know that something can be survived!
As far as the house goes....in their will I have a lifetime freeholding, meaning I can live here as long as I want. Can I afford to live here if they are in assisted living? Maybe not, but then I can't afford to live anywhere else either, except with one of my children. I also know that this is not a good time to try to sell a house, it will take longer and bring much less than if we were not in a recession. The nursing home (and I'm waiting for a return call from the director right now) told me that between medicare, health insurance, and the long term care insurance almost everything would be paid for. The one assisted living facility I talked to about this said that medicare and insurance covered nothing, the long term care insurance might cover it, I would have to find that out, and that there is some sort of veteran's assistance of $1800.00 that might be available. As long as dad is alive his retirement income would probably cover assisted living, if he dies that goes way down but I don't know how much and mom does have the LTC insurance. What I don't know is if she receives payments from insurance at one facility, is it transferable to another facility if she needs a nursing home - that's assuming it would cover assisted living in the first place. There is SO MUCH I don't know! I do know that assisted living is going to run between $1800 and $4800 a month depending on the size of the apartment and the level of assistance needed, and the nursing home mom wants runs about $4,300 a month, supposedly with insurance covering most of that. I'm just squeaking by on the $865 income I have (including their $200 a month) and if they weren't living here I would have to come up with another $6-700 a month for utilities, homeowner's insurance, & property taxes. But being forced to put a roof over my own head, and knowing I am free to be gone as long as and whenever needed would certainly be motivation to go to McDonalds. I'm thinking that somehow I have to plan this so their income can pay for homeowners insurance, taxes and utilities (although they would be lower) whether I'm living here or not, at least until the house was sold.
I called today at 1pm to see if mom had fixed lunch with the things I brought lastnight. It was like I had to remind them what lunch is. When I called and asked for their room the manager wanted to talk to me. Mom had come to the front desk and told them her hearing aide batteries were going dead, and they were trying to round up some batteries for her. I don't know why mom didn't call me, but I'm guessing they don't know how to use the phone in the room. When I brought them the batteries an hour later they still hadn't eaten lunch, I had to show mom where everything was, I checked her meds (which I didn't even think about lastnight) and she hadn't taken any. She said she didn't know where they were. So I put them out where she could see then, watched her take her morning meds at 2pm in the afternoon, showed her how her bedtime meds were in packets that said "bedtime", made sure they knew they were eating a complimentary dinner there that night, explained how I was going to call them tomorrow and get their choices for a delivery dinner from one of the menus and would call it in for them, and arrange payment and everything. And still I know I should be there to make sure any of that gets done. But they have the room so hot I'm almost panting after being there for 5 minutes, the pull out bed is a joke, the dog would have to be walked every few hours in the parking lot, some of them in the dark in a downtown neighborhood that isn't terrible, but is questionable...and I think, I care about them, but not enough to go through that. It seems like there is so much guilt attached to being a caregiver. Even those of you who manage to go far beyond what I'm willing to do sometimes talk about feeling guilt.
They should be able to come home Friday morning, maybe even tomorrow night, although they might still be painting here on Monday. And then I get to put house back together, oh joy.
Jo jo...I don't think that all of us have it in us to care for parents who are slipping into ALZ. My mum was a sweetheart, no aggression, could look after herself as regards personal care until her last year and lived with us initially. We are out of town, two storey home and mum strolled at all times, along with the wanting to help so we were watching all utilities nonstop......I was a walking zombie basically! The guilt was having to put her into a facility and it was totally unnecessary.. 15 people, movement/activity all the time, loving care, frequent visits when we went to all the places she enjoyed, strolls in the glorious gardens.....I was just sorry that I had not done that for her earlier instead of subjecting her to a boring year with us!! She had nine happy years. I have the highest regard for those who look after parents until the end...I am one of those who could not and I would say that there are many more. Also there are caregivers who question now if they did the right thing for both their parents and themselves. You live with yourself....do what is right for both you and your parents. Paramount...their safety and well being.
Thanks Celia, I have heard a lot of people here say they wish they had moved their family member to long term care (whatever kind) long before they did. I've never heard anyone say they made that move too soon.
One thing Deb said that has stuck in my mind is that if this repair had been taken care of 18 months ago when it was first brought to their attention, they could have handled it much easier. It would still have been inconvenient, and somewhat stressful, but it wouldn't have been the trauma for them that it is today. They wouldn't have spent 4-5 hours trying to find their way back to their hotel. And she suggested I translate that into how easy it will be for them to make the transition to long term care in future compared to what it would be like now. (at least that's what I think she was saying) And it has really made me think that they may have a better chance at a good adjustment and developing a better quality of life where ever they're at if I don't put it off too long. And I do see that they are becoming more and more isolated as the activities they able to continue keep going down. And I certainly am becoming more isolated. I can't explain any of this to them, but it is certainly on my mind. Their ability to communicate in any meaningful way with each other and with me is becoming almost none existant, but in a facility they would have stimulation and chances to participate and interact with others that I can't offer, just like you were saying.