Tag Archive | boundaries

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 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: Thank Goodness for Sports Cars

Blog - Pic 70“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

This was a day I was going to spend with my husband – have some “us” time. I (unfortunately) mentioned to Mom that we were thinking of going to Denny’s knowing full well that she wouldn’t want to go because “that place that always makes me sick” couldn’t possibly be where she’d want to eat. WRONG!  Funny thing tho, every time she goes there she orders so much food and takes home all the leftovers.

When we got home I knew my husband was ready to spend some “alone” time with me, so I got Mom settle into her place, made sure the Denny’s leftovers were in sight, and then (unfortunately again) mentioned that I was going to ask my husband if he wanted to go for a drive in the Porsche. Earlier I was telling Mom how much he loves that car but doesn’t drive it much, so I figured she’d understand. Funny Mom…. she sit’s on the bench in her kitchen (still holding her 5 lb purse) and says, “OK, I’ll just wait here to see if he wants to go – I’m coming, right?” Sorry Mom, the Porsche is a 2-seater. Right about now I’m thanking my husband for buying that car!

So off we went for our nice drive, just the two of us. I told my mom we were going for a short drive – BIG mistake… Ring, Ring! “Where are you? You said you were going for a short drive and it’s been a while – I was worried. Maybe you can just call me every time you’re going to be late, that way I won’t worry.” Aarrgh! What am I…. 12?!! 

After that incident stressed me out, my husband told me that I shouldn’t be reporting to my mom every time we go out, or come home late, or basically anything. Just because she’s living next to us shouldn’t mean we have to start reporting to her. We never called her and told her our itinerary when she lived in Florida, why would we start now? That’s when I knew I had to have a talk with my mom – you know, “strike while the iron is hot” sort of thing.

So when we got home I stopped at my mom’s to have a little chat. I basically told her that I wasn’t comfortable having to report to her my whereabouts – I’ve never done that before and I was afraid that if I start doing that and then forget one time it would make things worse. I’ve never had to think about letting someone know what I’m up to and I just didn’t want to start. (Obviously if she were expecting us and we were going to be late or something, that would be different, but just normal day to day events is something that doesn’t need to be shared).  

Sure it was difficult having that talk with her- she wasn’t a happy camper – but it had to be done. And yes, it probably came across nasty, but boundaries have to be set right from the start. I know from past experience that it’s harder to change something if you’ve started it than to not start it at all.

What I Learned: For you own sanity, tell it like it is – even if they don’t like it.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: A Truly Shitty Day

Blog - Pic 68“This is supposed to be the time of my like – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Today was quite an interesting day – actually, it was a shitty day…. literally! I awoke very early to a horrible smell; I’m thinking, what could that possibly be? I opened the bedroom door and there all down the hallway were piles of shit…. dang dog! And what had she been eating??? Eewww! Usually my husband has the lucky task of picking up the dog doo, but I wasn’t going to wake him so early for this mess. So I got that all cleaned up, patted Whitney on the head and told her it was OK (she obviously wasn’t feeling well – poor thing), let her out back and jumped back into bed for what was left of my zzzz’s.

A few hours later I am awakened again – this time to the phone ringing next door at my mom’s (remember, our walls are attached). Of course she didn’t answer it – she never answers her home phone. I knew right away that my phone would be ringing next because the Lifeline people were going to call around 9 AM to let us know when they’d be stopping by to install her equipment. Yup, it was them confirming they’d be here around noon. Yay…. more snooze time! NOT! My mom knew that Lifeline would be there between 9 and 2, but what happened next was completely unexpected. Tap, Tap, Tap on our bedroom wall…. “Are you up?” Ughhh! Really? Ignore. Tap, Tap, Tap. OK, I’m up!

And just so you know, the OK, I’m up was in my head.  My husband and I made one “absolute rule” – if my mom ever knocked on our bedroom wall or called us through the wall, we would ignore her. It’s like training a dog (bad example), it’s like teaching a small child – there have to be rules. Obviously if it were an emergency we’d treat things differently, but this was not.

So I got out of bed, put the coffee on and decided to give Mom a call on her cell to let her know when Lifeline would arrive. Straight to voice mail…. hhmmm, that’s weird, she has her cell with her at all times. OK, I’ll head next door and let her know. After I told her she asked why I didn’t just call her so she could have gone back to bed (geeze!). So I explained that I tried calling her cell but it went straight to voice mail. Then she said to me, “Oh, I think my cell phone is in the toilet.” WHAT? I ran to the bathroom to check it out – no phone in the toilet…. pheww! Then she says, “And don’t flush it because I already did and now the water is coming up to the top.” You’ve got to be kidding…. she flushed it?!!!

After my husband checked things out, sure enough the cell phone had been flushed. Three hundred and fifty dollars later, the plumber had pulled the toilet, dumped the toilet upside down in our courtyard, and “kerplunk”! Out flopped the cell phone. My mom actually wanted to keep it because “it is waterproof” (it was not), but once I told her it was covered in shit…. she declined. Off to Sprint to buy a new phone!

Oh, and the reason she dropped her phone in the toilet? California….. the toilets are lower!

 What I Learned: There has to be rules. (Oh, and the toilets are lower in California!)

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Is There An Upside?

Blog - Pic 63“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

So, I really think Mom is starting to like her new digs – she seems to be settling in quite well. She’s still apprehensive about being alone at night and asks me to stay “just 5 more minutes” every night. My husband says how proud he is of me for standing my ground and telling her “no”, but I just think I sound mean. There’s not really a nice way of saying no…. no matter how you say it, it’s still no, right?

My husband and I take nightly walks – mainly to destress and talk about what we are feeling and and how we can help each other deal with our new situation. I am so lucky to have my wonderful husband who is understanding and caring. I’ve talked with so many people who are in our same situation and they tell me it’s a real strain on their relationship. There is no way I want that to happen – my husband will always come first and I will always consider his feelings before I do or make any decisions concerning my mom. I can’t believe my husband is doing this for my mom – it’s a huge undertaking. Is that the right word? Undertaking? It just sounds so final!

The main thing I want is for my husband and me to have “our” life – the life we are supposed to have when the kids are grown and off doing their own thing. I’m afraid our life is going to be put on hold – I just hope we can enjoy it when we do get it. 

Wow! This post is pretty negative. There has to be an upside to our situation…. I guess the upside is that my mom is so much better off being near us. I haven’t found an upside for me and my husband, but I’m working on it.

What I Learned: Having a supportive “significant other” is half the battle.



Caring For An Elderly Parent: That Costs How Much?

Blog - Pic 61“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Mom has a hard time understanding prices of things – I’m pretty sure she’s still lost in the 50’s. The other day we went to Whole Foods to get her a few things but she just couldn’t believe how expensive everything was. And it was definitely way more expensive than Florida. Yup! That’s California for ya Mom. Even when she bought the exact same items she was used to buying in Florida she would tell me “it doesn’t taste the same – it must be California.”

The other day we took Mom to Dairy Queen – she was craving a cone from there because she used to go to one in Florida but hadn’t been in years. Now that we are taking her everywhere I think she wants to get everything she’s been missing. So we got there and she asked for a “baby size vanilla cone” which, of course, they don’t have because they did away with them in 1990! All they had was a small cone, which she agreed to buy, and pulled out $1.50 from her wallet. Whomp! She nearly fell over dead when she was told “that’ll be $3.89.”  Well, as you can guess, the ice cream just didn’t taste like it did in Florida. That’s right Mom, in California they put the price up and take the taste out – damn Dairy Queen!

And I won’t even tell you how much the bill was for the dinner we had – Mom couldn’t believe it. And then she had to argue with my husband about how much of a tip to leave. Really Mom? A couple of bucks? You’re the one who wanted to go there.

I guess we’re going to Denny’s next time!

What I Learned: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: Not Denny’s!

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

Today we made a major breakthrough with Mom – she went to Denny’s with us! I know, it’s not fine dining or anything but hey, I have an AARP card which gives us 20% off AND 1 dollar coffee after 4 PM. Plus, they’ve got to know us as regulars (I know… sad) and we get great service – how can you beat that? We can all use a financial break now and then, right?

This was the first time in weeks that we’ve been to Denny’s because we’ve been catering to Mom and going where she wanted – but that’s OK, it’s been years since she’s had people around to take her places. I must admit, she has certainly been enjoying herself – did I mention that she loves to eat out? The only place she wouldn’t eat though was Denny’s – I think she had a bad experience at one in Florida. But I finally just said to her that we were going there and if she wanted to join us she could. Well… she didn’t want to go there but she wanted to go out, so off we went!

Before we even got there I knew she’d complain about everything – and she pretty much did while we were there. But when we got home she actually said she enjoyed herself and the experience was a good one. Wow! And here I thought Denny’s would be the one place my husband and I could get away – I know…. sad.

What I Learned: Don’t underestimate a “hungry, I want company, I want to go out” Mom!



Caring For An Elderly Parent: First Week With Mom

Blog - Pic 57“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

The first week having Mom live with us in California has certainly been an adventure! And my husband and I can’t believe the improvement we see in her from the day we arrived in Florida to moving her out here.

The other day I came out of our place and Mom was actually sitting in the courtyard. I can’t remember Mom ever wanting to be outside (being allergic to light and all), but there she was sitting there with her dark sunglasses and heavy sweater. Did I mention it was 86 degrees out! I’m not sure how long she was sitting there because she gets confused with time, but I had mentioned earlier that we’d be going out when we were finished what we were doing. I guess she only processed the “going out” part. But hey, she was getting some sun and seemed to enjoy it; I guess we’ll just have to start wording things differently.

And what’s with her having to be on a schedule anyway? Yesterday I told her I was going to have a shower and then we’d go out; well I got to doing other things first and obviously (for her) took longer than expected. She called out her back door to my husband (who was working in the garage) questioning where I was. He knew I had just jumped in the shower so told Mom that, but she had to argue with him – “She can’t be taking a shower because she already had one. She must be doing something else.” Yea, I was doing something else alright – trying to de-stress in the shower! 🙂

But things are going pretty well considering how new this is to all of us. We’ve been trying to keep Mom busy so her mind is not focused on Florida. My husband gave her the task of folding  the paper that came in her boxes from the move (you never know if she’ll need it again!) – you should have seen the perfectly placed piles around her chair in the living room – too funny! I’m pretty sure she loved having something important to do.

What I Learned: Everyone has their own way of going about things – try to understand.



Caring For An Elderly Parent: Moving In!

Blog - Pic33“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

“What do you mean you’re at the front door!? You said you’d be here after the new year!” Crap! The movers arrived New Year’s Eve at 8 AM. Mom was down the street at the hotel and we hadn’t finished figuring out where things were going because we thought we had a few more days! Arrhhhh! OK, let’s get this done. My husband dealt with the movers while I’ll ran and got Mom.

Once we got the day going everything fell into place. We got all Mom’s things moved in and situated where she wanted them. For some reason Mom was obsessed with her dining table – when it was brought in it was apart (obviously) and Mom couldn’t wait to tell the movers to make sure they put it together. Every time they came and went Mom would mention about putting the dining table together. We told her not to worry, they’d put it together when they were finished bringing everything in, which they did – with Mom (of course) instructing them every step of the way.

The day was somewhat stressful, but we got through it. Mom was tired, which was probably a good thing since it was her first night alone in the house. My husband and I didn’t know what to expect with having our new neighbor all moved in. You may recall from my February 10 post Choices, Challenges and California that our houses are attached. The only bad thing about being attached is that our bedroom is attached to my mom’s bedroom – not so sure how that’s going to work out.

Let’s just hope we don’t get any knocking on our wall tonight!

What I Learned: Be Patient – Mom will adjust (and hopefully so will we!).


Caring For An Elderly Parent: Acclimating Mom

Blog - Pic 56“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

Christmas Day!  We picked Mom up from the hotel and took her to her new home. We didn’t know what to expect – would she love it? Would she hate it? Of course she saw pictures, but this is the real deal. She’s going from her quiet country club setting to city life in Los Angeles – will she adapt?

Well her first impression was a good one. She thought the house was charming and loved the wood floors and nice new kitchen. She honestly didn’t seem to have a problems with her new living arrangement. Wait…. maybe this is the calm before the storm. Maybe she hasn’t realized her situation yet. Well let’s keep her mind focused on the present.

We spent a lot of time driving around with Mom so she could see the area she’ll be living in and hopefully find her barrings. We hit up a few restaurants – did I mention Mom loves to eat out? And we had some finishing touches to do at her house before the movers arrived, so that took up a lot of time.

We wanted Mom to spend as much time as possible at her new home so that she would get familiar with everything. We would give her little tasks to keep her busy so that my husband and I could have some time to ourselves – I can’t stress how important it is to have time for yourselves.

The next few days were long and tiring for Mom (us too) but that was a good thing – she basically got to her hotel room at the end of the day and slept. Each morning we would pick her up at the hotel, take her to the house, and figure things out. It was definitely starting to feel a little weird for my husband and me – we’ve never spent this much time with my Mom. We’ve always spent the time between Christmas and New Year’s just the two of us on a nice road trip to a nice hotel for a few days – not this year.

This is either going to be a great beginning for Mom or the end of life as we know it for us.


What I Learned: This is a huge undertaking – don’t take it lightly.