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Both my parents have been living in an assisted living for 1.5 years. Their health seems to be deteriorating especially my dad who finally agreed to use a walker. Even with the walker he simply drags his feet one foot at a time and can barely, if at all, turn himself to another direction. He is losing weight, his upper back and upper torso are completely twisted and for the life of me, I don't know where he finds enough strength to walk. He suffers from anemia of general causes, and now they found blood in his urine. A culture was done at the facility which indicated no infection, so now he will go see a urologist asap. he seems to be ok with this. However, his dr. wants him to see an orthopedist to ascertain exactly where and why he is getting more and more twisted and weaker and weaker. He absolutely refuses to to, and I gave up already on that issue. Maybe physical therapy can help him for some more sessions. He has fallen a lot of times lately and thankfully no harm was done.

My mother on the other hand handles her walking with her walker very well, manipulating it perfectly. Her main issue is her dementia. At this point she has one dessert, forgets she ate it, and orders another dessert. Luckily, despite memory problems, she is a very happy sweet person.

I am concerned about what I found in their apt. today. All their shirts, sweaters, jackets, etc. are all heaped onto the chairs that are there.I think they can't hang them up any more, especially because of my dad's lack of strength and my mom's "could care less" type of attitude.

My dad's papers were always in neat piles, and now I see there are papers on every available table and chair in the apt.

I do all that I can do in my power to help both of them. They still love each other deeply and always will, which is such a wonderful thing.

But, my brother has nothing to do with their care (he lives far away) so all the responsibility is on my shoulders. Thank goodness my husband is always on my side.

I just feel so helpless at times that I can't do more for them. Like make sure they are always dressed in clean clothes, hair brushed and all that stuff, but i just can't bring myself to do this.

Any advice or ideas from anyone of you out there? Thank you.
Wake up each day with a positive attitude and accept who you are. Like my mother always taught me, "tomorrow is another day."
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Depending on the facility they are living in, you might be able to hire an attendant on an hourly basis. It doesn't sound as if your parents need someone full time, but maybe a couple of hours a day, to assist them with their daily chores, hanging up their clothes, making sure they have clean clothes, monitoring their meals. Just sounds to me as if they need a little help. You are very fortunate that they have each other. It makes life a little easier on you.

I wish you well and hope this helps,
Miriam
Hello Spencer:

I am sorry to hear how your father is doing. It is so hard to bear... It is so good to hear that your parents are together though and that you have such a supportive husband.

Perhaps try contacting senior services in your area and see if there are any programs to assist the elderly. Then, I wonder if you have power of attorney? It might be time to consider that if you haven't already. Then you could take over the monthly bills to make sure they are being taken care of.

If they have enough finances then consider hiring outside help. That would make it easier on you. Besides it sounds like they might need someone to check up on them especially since your father has been prone to falls. That can be especially worrisome.

It is too bad that you cannot get your father into the doctors. They can be so stubborn sometimes. One time I managed to get my Dad into the doctors but I couldn't get him to take the tests... There is only so much we can do!

Meanwhile, take care of yourself. The aging process is hard but we are all stronger than we think. Good luck...

Love and Hugs from Glenda
Thank you both for your sound advice. I will look into the service you mentioned. What makes it particularly hard is that my dad is in denial about his problems and terrified to see the doctors. He just want to be left alone and he is happy. I would like, however, for someone to keep an eye out for both of them. Now I will begin more researching....
Well it's me again, only the problems are getting worse and I am getting so angry at this point and my anxiety is totally out of control.

The story now is basically this:

My dad (who will be 90 in June) puts up a fight with me over everything, although he feels justified in everything he says. He is now in total denial of his health issues, his problems with walking, his maneuvering with my mom in the apt., and the list goes on.

His physical therapist started physical therapy on his legs, because he cannot move one inch unless he uses his walker and slids his feet along the ground so slowly that I could take a nap before he gets to his destination. My mom is perfectly fine with her walker but due to her dementia, she will sit in the recliner, for instance, while my dad is struggling to maneuver his way into the apt. yelling at her to give him room. I keep telling him that mom doesn't understand what the problem is, and he doesn't get it that her dementia is slowly (thank goodness) getting worse.

Their apt. is way too cluttered for safety, and the concern for both of them falling increases for me everyday. They basically trip over each other, because each is oblivious to each other's state of mind and conditions. The physical therapist (PT) told me that in addition to the main area, he found various towels laying in the middle of the bathroom floor and it stinks of urine in their every single day. They clean the bathroom only once a day.

I am totally at a loss as to when I should take over my dad's bill paying and financial matters. Right now he is independent, but I see that his bills are all over the place and every time he needs to call someone, like his dr. or the front clerk, he wants me to call them for him.

My husband and I came up with the idea that he needs to go "up a level" in their care and then they would have at least one aide for the two of them who would pay attention to how they are doing, make a full assessment to determine exactly what type of services and then provide them. To go up a level, it costs more $ and my dad refuses to pay one extra penney for his care. I had my bro. speak to him, and it was a definite no.

At present, I have requested the VNA provide a social worker to go there once a week, see what's going on, and report back to me. I want her to tell me what needs to be done at least temporarily.

I have lost so many hours of sleep, have my own personal problems, am in the middle of selling and buying a home (due to almost having our house go into foreclosure) and my anxiety and depression are killing me already.

I decided the other day that that was it, that I can't continue to do this to myself but I do want to at least make sure they are safe and vist the drs. they choose to see. That day I was feeling so sick from my agonizing over everything, that I simply had to tell my dad that I can't continue doing what I am doing for him any more because it is making me very sick. I then disconnected the 2 phones I have, closed my blinds and briefly fell asleep. I didn't want to speak to him in the worst way, and I had this huge lump in my throat that I never quite had before. I couldn't speak, and when I did speak to my dad, I actually wrote on a post-it what I wanted to say and just read from it like a robot to him and hung up on him.

I am sorry for all the rambling but I definitely am at my wit's end. My brother asks me if he can help, but in the past, even though he is a metallurgist and so "smart", he was never able to get things done like I could. I am the resourceful one, and he won't even somehow get enough money to fly from Indianapolis to New Jersey even once to see my parents in person. He came once but my dad paid for all the expenses.

I am trying very hard to calm myself down. I see a therapist and have been on meds. for years and even began taking a stronger antianxiety med. I deserve to live my own life, and if I don't get some sort of assistance from the assisted living place, I will visit my parents once a week if possible, speak to them on the phone, and just ignore what my dad tells me. He doesn't realize how sick I am truly getting. I have to learn to say "no" when he asks me to do certain things because he has enough money to pay for extra care but refuses to use it.

I have not been working since I lost my last job last June, partially because I spent too much time on the phone with them or about them at the office. I need to be able to work with a clear head to earn some money for my husband and me, and I am having a difficult time as it is building up the courage to find this "other" job. After my move, it's on the top of my list.

If there is anyone out there that can give me any advice or insight please reply to this post. For now, I have thrown everything onto the assisted living place's lap to pick up the pieces.
Hello Spencer:

I am sorry for the anxiety you are feeling... It is hard to go through what you are going through with your parents. It sounds like they need more assistance with their care.

It is a dilemna when they refuse to admit they need help. I think that perhaps you should talk to your bro and get his help. You cannot do this alone and he has offered...

But first, take a deep breath. Treat yourself to a snack and find a pen and paper. List the alternatives so that when you do call your brother you have an idea of what to tell him. How much extra is the extra level of care? It may be worthwhile asking for your brother to provide a month or two right now. This is a challenging enough time for you what with moving and needing to find another job. That may get the pressure off of you long enough to make a plan.

The good thing is that your parents are still together. Maybe you can get your Dad to understand that your mother needs help with the housework and get a cleaning service in once a week or so. That might be a good option for now to help with the clutter.

There are so many things to consider - their environment, their health, their finances, medication etc... Talk to your brother and try to hire help if possible. Do not take it on yourself right now! I am afraid you are too fragile...

Remember to get the paper and pencil out. Take time to journal. That should help! Worrying about a nearly ninety year old father and a beloved mother with dementia takes its toll. My father died one month and two days before his 90. That was five months ago. If only I knew then what I know now, I would have not taken on so much responsibility on my shoulders. Take care of yourself, Spencer, and don't carry the whole load - get in touch with your brother and mull over the options together. Hopefully he will help with this situation. Meanwhile, try not to worry and know that we are here for you.

Love and Hugs from Glenda
Hi spencer...

I am so sorry to hear what you are going through..I feel for you...it's so hard when parents just won't listen to any advice or when they go into denial..our frustration levels go waayyy up...
Your dad...is it possible he has some sort of osteo? My mom not only lost a lot of height with her osteo but because of such weak bones it didn't take much and parts of her body did appear to be "twisted"...physical therapy can help a bit but it's more due to just sitting habits, etc..if you have weak bones and poor walking, sitting, lying habits, it's only a matter of time before our bodies sort of go that way all their own..
As for the unsafe clutter in their apartment..I know here once you apply for any sort of in-home assistance from any agency, they send someone out to do a total assessment of your living quarters..all un-safe areas are pointed out and ideas given as to how to fix so it is safe for an elderly person..
Ahh the walker dilemma..my situation was so similar to yours..my mom loved her walker, had no problem using it..my dad on the other hand insisted for years he did not need one, we finally got him a good quality walker, with wheels and a seat..and he grumbled but began using it..he finally grew to love it too..because of his walking problems he had to finally admit the walker made it a lot easier, plus he loved the seat when he'd walk to the mall..he tired often so he'd just sit right down and rest on his walker seat..sometimes he'd sit and sort of push himself along too and thought that was so neat..lol..hope your dad will ditch the denial thing soon too...
When you are caring for anyone who is in denial as to what is wrong or what assistance they should have, I'd learned it's a "take it one day at a time" thing...dealing with even the smallest problem with an "up" attitude and a sense of humor got my dad to agree to pretty much anything..as opposed to my "losing my temper" attitude I had at first..
hope some of this helped you..
please let us know how you are doing..
take care
prairiegal
I want to thank you both sincerely for your ideas and optimism. I think the added load of my financial crisis really has contributed to my huge anxiety issues.

As soon as I read both posts, I took a deep breath and immediately felt some relief - emotionally and mentally. It is just what I needed and I do have therapy once a week or so.

My brother and I are both in bad financial situations. I almost lost my present home and it almost went into foreclosure since I stopped receiving short-term disability. I do plan after our move to find a job - less than 40 hours - in that area. I just need some things to fall into place right now - especially with my move. I will be moving into a 55+ community into a small ranch with an attached garage facing a lake and lots of open land. Just what I need and can enjoy!! Plus a relaxing family (florida)room!

My dad does have osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and I believe also Parkinson's which can contribute to the rigidness of his legs and major problems with walking.

Glenderalla, you are so right, I keep ignoring my brother with what he tells me,but now he must step in, and take over some of my responsibilities.

They already do get their apt. cleaned by the facility once a week, and my dad refuses to allow them to declutterize at all!!

As I am writing this reply, I just spoke with someone at the local bar assn. and we came up with the idea that I must have my brother help now - he has no choice. There is a rabbi in nj somewhat near me that I will ask him to contact in order to intercede to help my parents!! I feel better already.

All the information I receive from you and others will help assist me through this maze. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Each of you have such a kind soul and I almost wish I could reach out and give you a hug!

Today, I am doing whatever I want to do. It will be Weds., April 18, my mental health day. LOL Gotta laugh!

With my love,
Dear Spencer,
You sound a lot like me, at least the me I was and am trying to change. We need to set boundaries; there is only so much that you can do and we need to remember that it is not selfish to care for yourself first. If you don't, and something happens to you, then you will not be good for anyone and where will your parents be then? You need to make your brother understand as well as your parents that from this day forward, you will take care of your needs first, and then do as you say. My thoughts are with you,
Miriam
spencer...

right on!!!take a day a week out just for y-o-u...god knows caregivers do need those..if we lose it who will take care of our loved ones..lol..keep up that sense of humor too..a good laugh even at oneself can save the day..: )
The Parkinsons thing you mentioned..my dad had that rigidity in his walking too but no doctor ever diagnosed parkinsons, although I was sure it was a possibility...hope he's taking a bit better to that walker..better to use one of those than to risk a fall, especially with brittle bones/osteo...

take care and hope your day is going well...
prairiegal
Today was a major turning point in my life. I emailed my brother and told him he must speak to the Rabbi he knows and have him intercede to help my parents out.

I cannot speak to my dad for at least the next 2 or so weeks. I am thinking of my own sanity here.

I have found another psychiatrist to help me now. He will re-evaluate my anxiety and depression, provide me with therapy, and prescribe whatever meds he feels will best help me. He called me back immediately, and he is just the compassionate doctor I need right now. I will be under his care so that I can get my life back.

Thank you again for your replies. It has made me come to my senses to help myself first. This forum has helped me in my near emergency situation. You are right, I must take care of myself, and take time out just for me. Tomorrow I will go see a movie (comedy I hope!) at our local theater in the mall and keep out of the house for quite awhile. If it's nice outside I will take a nice walk somewhere.
Sometimes our lives as caregivers can become so consuming, we lose ourselves in the process. We can get so wrapped up in the issues surrounding the people we are giving care to, that we basically burn out and must have a breather to refuel our energy.

I heard a speaker say once that we only have 10 units of energy ... no more, no less. When we reach 10, we shut down and must rejuvinate ourselves or suffer serious consequences.

You reached your 10 units, and thankfully, you realized it and reached out for help. Please give yourself plenty of "self" time to recharge. We care about you!

Dee
You have a lot on your plate right now, and in overwhelm. Yes, you need to stand back and take time for yourself. I also became so overwhelmed that I couldn't function anymore. I think that once you get back to work you may start feeling a lot better. I hope that you find the right solution for your parents.

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