Tag Archive | caring

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. 

Caring For An Elderly Parent: Why Is The TV Talking To Me?

Blog - Pic 96“This is supposed to be the time of my life, the nest if empty; but now Mom needs me.” 

I spoke with a friend not long ago who was telling me about his mother’s hallucinations, how she was always talking to an old friend. I asked him if he ever told her that her “friend” wasn’t really there and he said,”No.” At the time I thought it was weird that he wouldn’t try explaining to his mom that no one was there, try to bring her back to reality, but now I get it.

Before my mom moved out here she told me that she was hearing people talk to her through the TV when it was on – she thought someone was spying on her from the cable company. She cancelled service and hadn’t had TV for quite sometime. When Mom moved out here I though it was a good idea to have TV so she would have something to do – there are some great movies on the classics channel and there is a classical music channel I thought she’d enjoy.

Well it was great for a while, but now she’s back to hearing voices in the TV again. And this is on the music channel where there is no singing – just classical music. Mom tells me she hears people singing happy birthday and talking about pie – and have even mentioned her name! But for some reason I never hear it when I’m at her place…. hmmm, weird.

So yes, I have tried going down that path of telling Mom that she’s hearing things that aren’t there, but she just won’t believe it. She truly believes there are people in her TV talking, singing, or whatever. I guess it’s not really like “in her TV” but people in the studio talking over the music. She keeps saying to me, “Why is the TV talking to me?”

Now I’m just going with the flow. I don’t want to upset her be making her think she’s crazy, so now I just respond to her question by saying, “Isn’t that strange? There must be a glitch at the studio.”

And to my friend who told me about his mother’s hallucinations? I get it.

What I Learned: The mind is a very powerful tool.


Caring For An Elderly Parent: Everyone’s Deaf But Mom

Blog - Pic 95“This is supposed to be the time of my life – the nest is empty; but now Mom needs me.”

It’s Sunday evening; my husband and I are having a wonderful time relaxing in our cabana, listening to the serene sounds of the night…. oh, and my cell phone ringing for the 4th time! Yes, it’s my mom. I let it go to voice mail enough times so I better pick up because she must truly be dieing this time. Sorry…. a little stressed!

Nope, not dieing….. just hearing noises in the garage. So while I’m talking to Mom my husband walks around to the garage to check things out. Mom must have caught a glimpse of him because she started called his name. Well, my husband knows that if he answers her she’ll talk his ear off and try not to let him go – and did I ever mention “the list” she has for him? YIKES! There’s always something she needs done around her house – I’m sure it’s just her way of having company – I get that.

So as Mom calls my husbands name I see him walking back to the cabana, realizing I’ve already told her that he was out there…. oops! So now my mom starts going on about how deaf my husband is because he never seems to answer her when she calls him. Hmmm, I wonder why? So I just agree with her about my husbands hearing problem – it’s so much easier.

Speaking of “the list”…. while I’m talking with Mom she mentions that her back door knob is making a funny noise and could my husband look at it – she’s afraid it’s going to get stuck or fall off and she won’t be able to get out (hello…. front door?). Even though my husband just tightened it about a week ago, I told her I’d have him look at it – then quickly said “but it won’t be tonight”, because I knew she’d be waiting at her door for him.

So tonight I’m visiting with Mom and she asks me if my husband is feeling better. I questioned what she meant (because he wasn’t sick or anything) and she said, “Well he must be sick if he didn’t come over last night to look at my door knob.” So when I got home I told my husband what she had said, so he decided to go over and look at her door knob – knowing full well that it was fine.

With tools in hand and a smile on his face, my husband looks at Mom’s door knob. She says to my husband, “Your wife must be deaf because she can’t hear the “clicking” noise the door knob is making.” Really Mom??? So my husband tightens it, he un-tightens it, and sprays it with WD-40 (which fixes everything, by the way!) and now everything is ticketyboo (as Mom says). For now, anyway.

Cross one item off the list!

What I Learned: Being lonely isn’t any fun – I guess fixing door knobs isn’t so bad after all.