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care for a parent

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Old 07-08-2008, 08:09 AM   #1
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Question care for a parent

I am not sure I am posting in the right topic but my mother in law is in the beginning stages of dementia.
History....short version.
Lost her 34 yr old son 4 years ago
Lost her hubby 2 years ago
her sons wife and child moved away to FL, she hasnt seen them since.

all of the above have taken her down a few notches.

we let her try to be on her own for a while, got her license taken away and was diagnosed with begining stages of dimentia.

my hubby and his sister and my mom in laws sister and brother have all been trying to get her back on her feet and we cant do it.

she is 68 yrs old, physically she is fine, she has bad eyes, cataracts I think.
Other than that, she should be able to manage. SHe has a ton friends who are willing and ready to get her to where she needs to go, but she doesnt utilize them. Instead she calls my hubby and his sister at all hours for stupid little things, like the cats nails need to be clipped, she is out of ice cream, cat needs food, out of trash bags etc. between making these trips and the time out of work my husband and his sister take, its getting bad. Today she just messed up all her meds and my sis in law had to leave work and go by and fix her all up. I am constantly making her healthy meals but she doesnt eat them and I end up throwing it away, she lives on coffee cake, chocolate, and ice cream.

There is a meeting scheduled between all her immediate family for July 28. They want to try and get her someone to come in, help her with daily routines, take her here and there, kinda keep her going. The only other step we have is to sell her condo and get her into a home of some sorts, but we fear that will crush her spirits completely and she will give up.

Is there such a person we can hire? What is this person called?

Thank you for any advice you can offer


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Old 07-08-2008, 09:55 AM   #2
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Re: care for a parent

Welcome to the boards Amy.

It sounds like your MIL is in the early stages of "the disease." Irritating isn't it?And frustrating. It isn't that she doesn't want to ask her friends for help, she doesn't realise that she needs help. In fact, to her, and in her mind, there is nothing wrong with her reasoning. It is you and all of the rest of you who are having issues. Her world is becoming slightly squed and off kilter, as if you are standing at an angle while everyone else is standing straight. And as the disease progresses, it will be harder and harder for her to join what is considered "our world".

For right now it sounds like if you are going to allow her to continue to live in her condo she will need to have some sort of care provider. Does she have a dining hall where she eats, or is she cooking her own meals? If she has been on her own, it might be time to consider an assisted living facility where she can have constant help and decnt meals. When a person starts to get to the point that your MIL is at, you need to start to be prepared to find a place for her to live that will be able to transition her from AL to NH because the awful truth of this disease is that there is no recovery from it and that it is a down hill slope from which there is no hope. It is better to be prepared and have a place ready that will help her than to be scurrying arround looking for someplace in a moment of desparation. AND assisted living and huring homes aren't the horrid places of the past. They are now state of the art homes that strive to keep residents involved and happy. I had both of my parents in one. I lost my mother to Alzhiemers last Nov. My daddy died 5 weeks prior to an anuerism.

This board will welcome you with a ton of help and information. You are welcome and in my prayers......

Old 07-08-2008, 03:04 PM   #3
Martha H
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Re: care for a parent

I agree that an assisted living home, a group home or nursing home is the ideal situation for her. She is unable to cope alone, and that is stressing her out way more than she will tell you. Once she adjusts to the change she will be far happier there than in her own home, as odd as it may seem. My Mom was.

It does sound exactly like one or another form of Dementia. but if a doctor hasn't diagnosed it, she should go for a visit. The best trained doctors in that field are called geriatricians, specialising in older adults, although at 68 your Mom is not OLD. (I am older!)

Yet when this disease strikes you, you lose your rationality, and can make serious and even deadly mistakes --- burn the house down by forgetting a pot on the stove, get lost, wander off to an unsafe area, walk in front of a car by mistake, forgetting the rules of crossing at the green light, etc.

You will all have much more peace of mind once your Mom is relieved of all decision making, which is increasingly difficult. You ought to have Power of Attorney over all her medical and other affairs so you can help when necessary - if you wait too long and she is obviously incompetent, it may take a legal case for a judge to declare her incompetent. Get it soon, while she still makes a hafway normal impression in front of the notary or lawyer. An elderlawyer is of inestimable value in getting financial 'ducks in a row' to figure out how to pay for further care and/or get governnment help (Medicaid) .

It sounds overwhelming, but you do it one step at a time, one day at a time, and after only a short time, she is safe, cared for around the clock, taking her meds regularly because a nurse makes sure she does, washed and combed and fed because someone else remebers all that when she doesn't ... and all of you can take a deep breath and relax.

This is a sad disease, but we all got through it, and you will also...



PS a person who comes to her house and takes care of her, takes her places, etc is called a Home Health Aide or HHA. They can be found by calling an agency whch uses licensed and bonded personnel. They are not nurses and have no medical knowledge, so anything she needs to know about Dementia and how to deal with it she will have to learn from you. They do not do housework either, although voluntrily one might wash dishes or tidy up a little. My Mom had HHAs for around 10 months. She didn't like it. Her life was much happier and better at the nursing home. Instead of being by herself plus a person she felt was ''watching her", she made new friends and took part in activities appropriate to her condition, including field trips, games, mental and physical exercises, etc.

Last edited by Martha H; 07-08-2008 at 05:27 PM. Reason: add PS

Old 07-08-2008, 05:05 PM   #4
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Re: care for a parent

I totally agree with Ibake and Martha. We did what your family is doing now. We ran ourselves ragged for a year trying to be the good daughters and allowing Mom (Alz) and Dad (vascular dementia) to stay at home. Even with in home help during the day, one of the daughters there from Friday evening to Sunday evening, and a niece staying one night a week.... there is no way to tell you how much chaos was created in the few hours they were alone. It got to the point that every time the phone rang and caller ID gave their number I paniced.

If nobody has looked at her financials they should do so. One of the first things Mom lost (a bookkeeper/accountaint) was the ability to keep her check register and pay bills. She ordered items and then refused to pay for them. She tried to give a massive amount of money to a fly by night B rated insurance salesman costing more in capital gains, penalties, and fees than the policy would ever make, if she ever got it. This from a lady that took a cashed out insurance policy and amassed an amazing portfolio.

Medication was a major problem. Even when we filled the hourly pill boxes and hid the other medication she managed to mix it up, not take it, take two days at once, or take Dad's meds. She would empty the boxes and redo them.

Mom lost her ability to socialize and never called her friends. If she needed something, instead of calling the lady across the fence she would call me, four hours away. She didn't know any difference between a smoke filled house and being out of cool whip. They were all immediate needs in her mind. A few minutes later she had forgotten about them and was off on something else. Things that happened during that time will never be understood. We are just thankful that nobody was severly hurt.... other than a med over dose of Xanax that required hospitalization and a broken arm. I was at home last weekend and found yet another burned pot hidden behind the cabinet drawer.

Mom would swear they were eating well. She's a good cook!!! Just ask her. In reality they were living off cereal, ice cream, chocolate, and soft drinks. It did wonders for her borderline diabeties. We would take healthy meals that they loved like homemade vegetable soup and it would still be in the fridge the next weekend. The sitter would come in and find them pouring soured milk over their cereal. She started cooking for them and they ate when she was there but after she left they were back to cereal and chocolate. She did make sure the milk was fresh.

Mom hated having somebody in her house. The lady we hired was an ANGEL and would do anything she could for them including taking them places, cooking, cleaning, making sure they had their medication, taking them to the doctor, and keeping us girls on top of whatever was going on. She even did manicures for Mom, pedicures for Mom and Dad, and Dad's skin was the best it had been in years because she loved vasaline. Mom had one of her psychotic episodes and after hitting the sitter twice she was forced to leave. We had a week to find placement for Mom and Dad. We were lucky and found a wonderful assisted living facility where Mom and Dad have been for nine months. What a god send that was. I just wish we had done it sooner.

So I give you my best advice. Don't wait for the broken arm or hip, the fires, the getting lost, the panic in the middle of the night. Take her to a nice AL facility and help her understand that it will eliminate the need for cooking, medication confusion, there are activities and outings, and potential friends to be made. It might be just what she needs to get a second lease on life. It's the way you present it..... you are not putting here away because of her inabilities, you are giving her the option of a wonderful retirement facility where she will have less responsibilities and more time for fun. If you are positive, she will be also.

Good luck in your family meeting and I do hope you come to a resolution that will be good for you all. ALso welcome to the forum. I know how much they have helped me in the last year. What a wonderful group here.... so keep typing. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers

Love, Deb

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