Tag Archive | elderly

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Keep That Door Locked!

BCDB Image“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Today I realized that Mom does not do well when she is out of her element. We had workers come to the house very early this morning to move the heater in Mom’s attic and redo the venting for the air conditioning. Because it has been almost 100 degrees here lately, the workers wanted to get an early start – considering how hot it would be in the attic – understandable.

So I got Mom up at 7:00 am so she could get her morning routine out of the way before the men arrived. She is always confused in the mornings and today was not different…. well, actually it was different because she had some added stress about strange men being and working in her house. But I made sure she took her medication, got her breakfast and was all set for the men to arrive. I told her we’d been around all day and would stop in periodically to check up on her. That made her feel a bit more relaxed.

The men arrived and started the work on schedule. Mom questioned every noise she heard and wondered where they were going every time they left to get tools or supplies. I explained to her that they would be coming and going throughout the day and I would let her know when they were finished. For some reason she had a really hard time understanding that they were still working even though they kept leaving her house.

I spent all morning back and forth to Mom’s making sure she was OK. My husband ran and got breakfast for us all which Mom thoroughly enjoyed – pancakes! When the workers took their lunch break they told Mom they’d be back in 30 mins – she seemed much more relaxed when they weren’t in her house. The afternoon seemed to be a little more confusing for Mom for some reason. She wasn’t happy about the men using her bathroom and kept asking my husband to check that they had flushed. But the weirdest thing came a little later.

My husband and I were working away in our house when there was a knock at the door – it was one of the workers telling us that Mom’s door was locked. Hmmm…., that’s weird. But sure enough it was. So I unlocked it and went in to see what was up with that. When I asked Mom why she locked the door she said the workers told her they were finished (which was not so). So I explained to her that they were not finished and would be coming in and out the rest of the afternoon to finish the job.

Mom looked awfully confused. Every time one of the workers left her house with their tools she thought they were leaving for the day. And sure enough, an hour later it happened again! Another knock on our door letting us know that Mom’s door was locked. Geeze! What is going on? Again I explained to Mom the situation and she said she wouldn’t lock it again.

Well…. she did. And 2 men were still in her attic! She kept saying she was told they were done for the day and leaving. Wishful thinking on her part I guess. But we got through the day and Mom was a happy camper when the work was finished and she could get back to her normal routine. I was really surprised at how she kept locking the door after being told numerous times not to, but I suppose the mind becomes fragile when we age.

What I Learned: Keep the mind active and try to stay social.



Caring For An Elderly Parent: Sneaky, Sneaky!

Blog - Pic 83“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

I never thought I’d by playing hide and seek at this stage in my life, but having Mom on the property has brought on a lot of game playing. I have to admit, my husband and I have become very creative in dealing with ways to spend time alone. It may sound childish, but I’ve come to realize that honesty is not always the best policy when it comes to an ageing parent.

In my situation, my mom has a terrible time dealing with being alone – especially after dark. I’m pretty sure that’s a common trait for people who are ageing. I also know that my mom would freak out if she knew we were not on the property at certain times – I know this because she is always calling me and asking if we are home.

Today was a particularly funny situation. First of all, I should mention that my husband and I are terrible at sneaking up, around, or out of any situation – if we are trying to go unnoticed it’s a given that we’ll get caught. So we decided to go grab a pizza for dinner, sit out back (just the two of us) with a margarita and enjoy the beautiful summer evening.

Just as we walked around the corner of our house we see Mom opening her back door (which opens up to our courtyard) throwing treats out to the dog. Oh oh…. busted! Both my husband and I flatten ourselves up against the fence and side step it as quickly as possible to the gate. I can’t believe she didn’t see us! I’m sure if anyone had seen us we would have looked pretty silly. I slowly and quietly opened the gate and we jumped in the truck and headed out. Will Mom still be at her door when we get back? You bet.

Now we need a plan to get back in without her seeing us – or if she does, have a plan of what to say. So again, I slowly and quietly open the gate. My husband grabs the pizza and I run defense. If Mom sees us, I can distract her while he sneaks past with the food. Well all that planning for nothing – her door was open but she wasn’t there…. so that was a good thing. I’m not the type who feels very good about making things up, but in our situation I feel it’s better to say and do things that won’t upset Mom.

So everything turned out fine. My husband and I had a nice relaxing dinner out back and Mom was none the wiser.

What I Learned: Some game playing is needed when caring for an elderly parent.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: I Make Her Food Taste Bad

Blog - Pic 105“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Mom loves to eat out. That is definitely her all time favorite thing to do. And she’s always loved gourmet cooking with lots of flavor. My husband and I take her out for dinner every Friday and usually one other day during the week – and always when she has doctor’s appointments we go for lunch too. But lately she’s been complaining about how everything she orders has no taste.

I’ve read that as we age we can lose our taste buds, but I never read that it could be my fault for my mom not tasting anything. Yup! Somehow my mom can always spin it around to be my fault – even losing her taste buds.

You see, this is how it is. We go out for dinner; my husband and I know pretty much what we are going to order (because we’ve been going to the same restaurant for over a year); Mom peruses the menu even tho she’s a vegetarian and there are only certain items she will eat; I will ask her if she knows what she’ll be having; she always says no and continues to peruse the menu; then I try to push her along by suggesting something; and finally she’ll order one of the items I suggested – which is usually the same thing she orders every time.

By the time we order we’ve seen multiple tables come and go – and my husband and I are starving! So when our food arrives my husband and I are always enjoying every bite – the food is always wonderful here. Then I look over at Mom and she looks disappointed. Should I ask? Of course I do, and I get the same response as usual – “it doesn’t have any taste.” Even adding condiments doesn’t seem to help.

Then I know what’s coming next. “If I hadn’t listened to your suggestion maybe I would have something that tastes good.” Really? And don’t EVEN try to tell her it could be her taste buds. Oh right, a 90 year old has perfect taste buds. But I don’t let it bother me because she’s MOM. My husband pats my leg and gives me a kiss – it’s all good!

What I Learned: Don’t suggest anything to eat? (We’d probably still be waiting to order if I didn’t)


Caring For An Elderly Parent: That Haunting Conversation (Again)

Blog - Pic 104“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

I was visiting Mom last night and she was telling me how unhappy she is with the fact that she can’t remember things and is confused about what is going on. It usually only happens when she just wakes up, but considering she’s sleeping most of the day it happens often.

So we started that conversation again about what her options are. She obviously needs help, especially with her medication and some meals. Actually, there are really only two options – move to an assisted living facility or have a home health person come in. We both know that assisted living is the last thing Mom wants – she even said she’d probably die if she moved to one…. YIKES!

Of course my opinion of assisted living and Mom’s opinion differ greatly. I feel, for me, it would be a better situation in some ways because of the social aspect of a facility, as well as meals prepared daily, extra curricular activities, outings, and even a smaller living space to not have to worry about cleaning. Yea…. that’s what I’m all about!  Mom, on the other hand, doesn’t want anything to do with socializing, hates any type of game, and is super fussy about her meals.

After talking about how she won’t go to an assisted facility we talked in more detail about having someone come in. Herein lies the problem. What days/hours would we have the home health person come and what duties would they perform? Some days are better than others for Mom but lately she’s been having confused days every day.

Unfortunately I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to call around and get information for Mom, but now I feel I have to take the time to call. It’s going to be weird for all of us having someone around all the time – we really like our space – but I have no other option at this time.

Who knows? Maybe this is exactly what we all need. Someone to help Mom with her daily activities and someone to take a little pressure off of me. And maybe even my husband and I will feel we can get away more often without feeling  pressure from Mom about going away.

Hmmm… can you say Vegas?

What I Learned: You can only put things off for so long, and some changes can be for the better.

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Change Is Not As Good As A Rest

Blog - Pic 103“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Had to move out of our house for four days because they were doing some renovations – Mom was not a happy camper. Staying in a hotel with minimal things was just too confusing for her… talk about being out of sorts!

Every morning Mom would call our room around 8 am. She didn’t know where she was and didn’t know what to do. I would go to her room and help her out, let her know the routine and then go and grab her some breakfast. After a while everything was fine, and Mom was back to her usual self and asking when we were going out to eat. It was the same thing every day.

I was hoping that getting away for a few days would be a nice change for Mom but I guess mixing things up did not sit well with her. She talked a lot about the cleaning staff and maintenance workers but I didn’t think anything about it – until we checked out. I was walking through the lobby with Mom and she saw a maintenance man. As we walked by him Mom said, “Thanks Joe, we are leaving now.” What? She knew his name? That’s when I realized she had been calling the front desk and having maintenance and cleaning staff at her room – probably one too many times.

But now we are home and things are back to usual – still afraid of the night and still asking if we are going out to eat. Some things never change.

What I Learned: Stick to the normal routine.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: Should I Get Help?

Blog - Pic 102“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

No… not for me – for Mom. Sometimes I think it’s time to get a caregiver to come in and help her. There are days when she doesn’t seem to need help and then there are days when she does. I’m a little stressed about it because I don’t know how to handle it. Should I hire someone to come in every day, even on the days when Mom is able to do everything on her own? Do I have someone come during the day only or day AND night?

I’ve used an agency in the past when my husband and I have gone away for an extended period of time and that has worked out alright. Mom always puts up a fight about us leaving her and really packs on the guilt trip, but I am adamant about living my life and spending time away with my husband. When taking in an elderly parent I feel it is so important to try to live your life  the way you want. If you want to including your parent in your life all the time that’s fine, but if you want to live your life and include them sometimes, like I do, then that’s OK too.

Let’s be real here… I spend time with Mom every day. Honestly, it’s becoming more often than I expected but I’m alright with that. I know when to put the brakes on and I know when I need to get away and spend time with my husband. Believe me, it takes practice to say “no” to Mom but I have to so my life can be less stressful.

So, back to the question… Should I get help? Having a caregiver come in is expensive – anywhere from $18 to $25 an hour! Of course I haven’t looked into the rate for someone to come in on a regular basis – maybe you get a price break if they are coming on a weekly basis…. hmmm, I’ll look into that and let you know. And will having someone around all the time just mean that now I have to keep an eye on them as well? I’m not too crazy about having a stranger in our personal space all the time, but what are my options? I know Mom does not want to leave and stay in an assisted living situation and I’d rather not have that either, but it may come to that if I feel she needs that type of care.

What a dilemma. I guess I’ll call around and get some info and see about making a decision in the near future. I’ll keep you posted!

What I Learned: This is a situation that needs careful thought and planning – it will definitely affect all of us.



Caring For An Elderly Parent: Thank You Lifeline!

Philips Lifeline“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Exhausted from the long weekend, my husband and I just wanted to sleep in, but at 7 AM we were awakened by talking next door at Mom’s. At first I just thought Mom was talking to herself but then my phone rang. It was Lifeline calling to say they detected a fall at my mom’s and there was no response when they tried to reach her, so they called 911 to respond. YIKES!

I jumped out of bed as sirens were blaring outside coming down our street…. uh oh! Grabbed the key and ran into Mom’s house. There she was sitting on her kitchen floor bleeding from a cut on her head. She was conscious but looked a little disoriented – she had fallen asleep and slipped off her bench and hit the floor – again! (We are definitely getting rid of that bench). I let the paramedics in while my husband tended to Mom…. and then the day began!

So the paramedics checked Mom out – put some ice on her head, took her vitals and suggested she go to the hospital just to be sure. Mom seemed pretty cool about that (she actually doesn’t mind being in hospitals – likes having people around I guess) but she wanted us to take her instead of going in the ambulance. The paramedics were OK with that since she was coherent and all, so we got Mom ready and off we went.

Traffic was horrible – rush hour and all, but we got to the hospital and got Mom checked in. Her head was bleeding sporadically and her blood pressure was high, but all in all Mom was doing quite well. She was taken to a room to see a doctor…. and there we sat. Three hours later we finally got out of there – Mom with a bandage on her head and feeling great. All she talked about was how hungry she was and how she wanted to go eat – yup, she must be fine!

So we grabbed some food and got Mom settled back into her house, and then she took a well deserved long nap. I wish my husband and I could have done the same, but work got in the way for us. Oh well, hopefully we’ll have a better sleep tonight. Honestly, knowing that Mom has her Lifeline is a godsend, and having the AutoAlert option is the way to go – it vibrates if Mom hits the floor! In my opinion – definitely worth the money!

What I Learned: Implementing safety measures is important – no matter the cost.




Caring For An Elderly Parent: I Need To Care For Myself

Blog - Pic 101“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

I  guess it just happens. One day I’m having my mom live with us and things are “OK” (for having your parent live with you) and the next thing I know I’m spending every day at her house. What happened to “Mom is so independent and doesn’t mind being alone” and “We’ll see Mom a couple times a week maybe – she’s used to being alone.”

Well it seems that Mom is becoming less and less independent than she was and I’m finding myself over there helping her with tasks a caregiver should be doing. I told Mom that I’m not a caregiver and I have no interest in being one – even for my Mom. Sounds heartless? Maybe…. but that is how I feel. I didn’t sign up for being a nurse or caregiver, I just want to have Mom close by and make sure she is safe and nobody is taking advantage of her.

I’ve never had a close or great relationship with my mom – it’s been more of an irritating relationship. You’d have to know my mom to understand. But anyway, I’ve been cleaning her house and doing her laundry since she moved here, along with all her accounting and doctors appointments (and a list of other things), but now I find myself over at her house helping her with dressing herself, doing her hair, getting her meals, and making sure she is taking her medication properly and on time. Sometimes I don’t mind but it usually is at odd hours of the day – like at 4 AM.

So here I am spending a few hours every day at Mom’s. I can’t say I’m happy about it but I honesty don’t know what else to do. Some days are worse than others, but what do I do when it becomes more often? We’ve talked about having someone come in on a daily basis but that just doesn’t seem to be where Mom is right now – well, some days it is. I guess I’m at that in between stage where some days Mom needs extra help and some days she doesn’t.

So I guess I’ll continue on with the way things are until I feel I can’t any more. I’ve told my mom how I feel about nursing duties – I don’t want to give baths, I don’t want to do anything that involves bathroom duties (if you know what I mean), and I definitely do not do anything with feet!

I can understand people who have to be hands on with an elderly parent due to finances, and I can understand people who just want to be hands on, but I’m not in either of those categories. My dad provided well for my mom to have long term care so I guess we should start thinking about our options.

What I Learned: I don’t want to be a caregiver – I just want to live my life while knowing Mom is taken care of.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: I Went There!

Blog - Pic 33“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

What a stressful end to my day – and everything was going so well. I slept in this morning, had a nice breakfast with my husband, got some phone calls made, did some grocery shopping, popped in to see Mom a couple of times, spent some time with our son, and had a relaxing dinner our back with a delicious frozen margarita! I decided to go see Mom for a bit, make sure her A/C was set right for the night. When I walked in her back door she was standing in her kitchen looking a little frazzled. Then she started babbling away about nobody being home and how frightened she was and how I should have told her we were going away…. what?!!

At first I was quite calm and told her we were home all day except for shopping, and reminded her that when I dropped her groceries off I mentioned I had some work to do and I’d come back later that evening to see her. She said she remembered that but why didn’t I tell her we were going away? We didn’t go away! Then she asked why she hadn’t seen anyone all day. Again, I reminded her that I had been over there a couple of times already today and this was the third time. She told me I should wake her up when I go over…. hello – you were awake!

I don’t how the conversation went where it did, but all sorts of “bad” was coming to the surface. Mom was telling me how I was supposed to be caring for her and that I should be letting her know when we are going and coming, and how I should let her know when we are home by coming outside so she can see us. Are you kidding me?!! That just pushed me a little too far. I couldn’t help myself – she was just being hurtful.

That’s when I lost it….  I basically told Mom that if she didn’t like our situation and thought she could get better care elsewhere, then maybe she should go live in a home. Yup, I went there! I was actually quite calm about it, but firm. That comment made her do a 360 right then and there. That’s one thing my mom absolutely does not want to do – go to a home. And I don’t blame her, we wouldn’t want her in a home either, but there has to be some boundaries and respect of our situation. If we lose the respect then it just won’t work.

Finally, things got calmed down and the conversation ended with a hug. Mom said she’d try to work on “boundaries”, but I’m pretty sure she’ll forget most of what we talked about in no time. Maybe that’s the upside of memory lose. And, unfortunately, I’m pretty sure Mom will eventually need more full time care. I’m not sure if she’ll have to go to a home, but she’ll definitely have to have someone come in on a daily basis. That’ll be a chore for sure – finding the right match for Mom. I may have to start a different blog just for that!

What I Learned: It can be a challenge caring for an elderly parent – it’s not for everyone, but I know we are doing what’s best for Mom.

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Ring, Ring – Where’s My Cell Phone?

Blog - Pic 99

I‘ve heard that elderly people misplace things, and now I’m seeing first hand what that’s like. I’m guessing the cell phone is an easy target for loss since it’s one of those items you like to have with you all the time – it makes sense that you’d leave it behind somewhere.

Lately, Mom has been misplacing her cell phone a lot. She’ll call me from her home phone (which she never uses and I can’t believe she knows how to work) freaking out about not being able to find her cell phone. So I’ll call her cell phone from my phone hoping she’ll hear it and know where it is, but unfortunately Mom can’t hear it. That usually means I have to actually go over to her place and call her cell phone from there.

The other day I did just that. I walked in her back door and dialed her cell phone. I could hear it ringing right away but Mom could not. With Mom following me, I headed down the hall toward her bedroom pushing the redial button on my phone so her cell phone would keep ringing. Still, Mom couldn’t hear it. When we arrived at her bedroom door her cell phone was ringing away beside her bed; still, Mom couldn’t hear it. I pointed in the direction of her bed and let her know it was there and finally she heard it ringing.

Mom was so surprised to find her cell phone there because she said she had just looked there moments ago and it wasn’t there. I could tell that she was confused about losing the phone but she never wants to admit that she, herself, could be “losing it” (if you know what I mean).

Usually when Mom gets like that she finds some way of blaming me, and this situation was no different. We were sitting in her living room talking about her cell phone being lost and she asked me if I put it in her bedroom. Huh? Why would I do that?, I asked. She said I probably put it there for a joke. A joke? That’s not funny, I told her. I wouldn’t do that. I’m not so sure she believed me.

So after a few times of going over to Mom’s to help her find her cell phone, I decided to tell her that she could find her cell phone herself by using her home phone to call it. She looked at me with a dazed look and tole me she didn’t know her cell phone number. Well that probably makes sense since she never calls herself. So I wrote her cell number down on a piece of paper and stuck if by her chair in the living room and explained to her how to do it.

Now I’m wondering if I’ve created less of a problem or more of a problem…. time will tell!

What I Learned: Denial seems to part of the ageing process – at least in my mom’s situation.