The Elder Parent Scenario

Huntn

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Two years ago my 91 (at the time) Dad living in Winterhaven Florida wanted to move into a senior living facility. Me and my brother went down to help,with decision making. Ultimately he decided that he was going to stay home until he dropped. Fine and dandy if you actually drop, but what happens if you move into the realm of needed assisted living?

Two years later, once again he is thinking about moving to senior living. He wants to but gets overwhelmed at the prospect and then regresses just wanting to stay home... more to come.
 

lizkat

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Two years ago my 91 (at the time) Dad living in Winterhaven Florida wanted to move into a senior living facility. Me and my brother went down to help,with decision making. Ultimately he decided that he was going to stay home until he dropped. Fine and dandy if you actually drop, but what happens if you move into the realm of needed assisted living?

Two years later, once again he is thinking about moving to senior living. He wants to but gets overwhelmed at the prospect and then regresses just wanting to stay home... more to come.

It only gets more difficult as time goes on, I think. I know that there was a time my neighbor down the road had talked about going to some assisted living place but then shrugged and said something like "Still there's nothing like home, so...."

So... it fell to neighbors to start looking after him when he started getting confused about what he should or shouldn't be doing. The pressure then to come up with a decent place for him to move into and be looked after professionally was really on his kids then.

Fortunately one of his daughters found a great assisted living place up near her in the North Country and once that was arranged, all the kids came down to have a sit-down with their Dad and go over the reasons he needed to pull up stakes and quit trying to manage on his own at the old homestead. They had solicited from us neighbors an accounting of some of the incidents to which we had responded during his decline, and they gently let him know that some of those had been potentially life threatening and that they loved him and didn't want him to miss out on the good times he could still enjoy if not encumbered by having to look out for all the little things that were getting so much harder to manage: meal prep, pantry management, laundry, cleaning, trips to the mailbox.

It worked, and he ended up happy in the group home his daughter had found for him. He could even have a dog or cat sleep on his bed if he wanted, and he practically took over their inventory of houseplants and even their outside foundation plantings. Guy was amazing, with a real green thumb. He could make anything grow! He talked house manager into driving him to a plant nursery one day, came back with 75 iris corms and planted them all out himself in one day.

But see by then he couldn't be trusted to remember to take the plastic wrap off chicken before trying to defrost it in a fucking frying pan. Yeah. Now on that particular day I happened to drop by with his groceries then and smelled the godblasted plastic! He had the bad habit of unplugging the smoke detector "because the damn thing keeps going off for no good reason".

So it was high time for the family to have put their foot down. He couldn't even remember to read the notes he wrote to himself at our urging and stuck on the inside of the back door, stuff like "Don't go out today, it's too icy, a neighbor will bring your mail and groceries." So he'd go out and usually manage all aright but one day Deb, a neighbor who also drives a school bus, was passing buy and saw him lying in the snow near the mailbox. She pulled the bus over and quick ran and helped him up and into the house but it was like 20º outside so who knows if he could have got up and got back in ok by himself. Yet that was not the last time he pulled a stunt like that. He just couldn't remember not to give it a shot and he wanted his mail and newspaper.

Bottom line: by time we really need assisted living or to be in a nursing home, we might be pretty resistant to the idea thanks to mental decline and the attendant dissembling that goes on as that decline worsens. It pays for the next gen to keep having those talks, and so to help keep the person grounded in reality. The reality is we may end up telling ourselves we're okay past when we're really not capable of knowing if we're ok or not.

On the other hand, it can work out best for a long time and maybe for a lifetime to have the person stay in the home and have home heath care aides and hired help for cleaning and so forth. It all depends on the health of the person and their capability as they age.
 

Alli

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Two years later, once again he is thinking about moving to senior living. He wants to but gets overwhelmed at the prospect and then regresses just wanting to stay home... more to come.
Is he a social person? The forced (or seemingly forced) socialization would prevent my mother from ever moving to a senior facility. She’s looked at them. My aunt and uncle were serious about it until the three of them visited a place at lunch time and were told by some of the residents that they couldn’t sit where they sat because the regulars sat there. Very cliquish. 🤷‍♀️ So all of them remain in their apartments, 2 buildings apart. Meanwhile, my uncle’s daughter-in-law (my cousin’s wife) manages a senior care facility in Chicago and her family owns several in FL.
 

Huntn

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Is he a social person? The forced (or seemingly forced) socialization would prevent my mother from ever moving to a senior facility. She’s looked at them. My aunt and uncle were serious about it until the three of them visited a place at lunch time and were told by some of the residents that they couldn’t sit where they sat because the regulars sat there. Very cliquish. 🤷‍♀️ So all of them remain in their apartments, 2 buildings apart. Meanwhile, my uncle’s daughter-in-law (my cousin’s wife) manages a senior care facility in Chicago and her family owns several in FL.
He is social on his terms, he built airplanes as a hobby and his social life was centered on the county airport. He had a list of friends who have passed away or moved away. Since COVID, he complains of living like a hermit, so I think having a group of people in the same boat that he can socialize with on his terms, when he wants would be appealing to him.

We are visiting a friend in Tulsa this weekend, and he called this morning in semi-panic saying he was tearing his house up (sorting, arranging, getting ready to sell items), and he might be better just staying put. This evening he called as if this morning never happened. The move to Houston is still on. :unsure:
I could never live in a group home. Neither could Mrs AFB. Hopefully we can see out our time in this bungalow.
We won’t have any children or family looking after us either.
There comes a time when elders have issues managing their affairs, and the rub is when the threshold is crossed where assisted living is required. One half of the couple might pass away or have dementia where the other can no longer take care of them. I have always hopedd my demise is keel-over class. :)
 

Huntn

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It only gets more difficult as time goes on, I think. I know that there was a time my neighbor down the road had talked about going to some assisted living place but then shrugged and said something like "Still there's nothing like home, so...."

So... it fell to neighbors to start looking after him when he started getting confused about what he should or shouldn't be doing. The pressure then to come up with a decent place for him to move into and be looked after professionally was really on his kids then.

Fortunately one of his daughters found a great assisted living place up near her in the North Country and once that was arranged, all the kids came down to have a sit-down with their Dad and go over the reasons he needed to pull up stakes and quit trying to manage on his own at the old homestead. They had solicited from us neighbors an accounting of some of the incidents to which we had responded during his decline, and they gently let him know that some of those had been potentially life threatening and that they loved him and didn't want him to miss out on the good times he could still enjoy if not encumbered by having to look out for all the little things that were getting so much harder to manage: meal prep, pantry management, laundry, cleaning, trips to the mailbox.

It worked, and he ended up happy in the group home his daughter had found for him. He could even have a dog or cat sleep on his bed if he wanted, and he practically took over their inventory of houseplants and even their outside foundation plantings. Guy was amazing, with a real green thumb. He could make anything grow! He talked house manager into driving him to a plant nursery one day, came back with 75 iris corms and planted them all out himself in one day.

But see by then he couldn't be trusted to remember to take the plastic wrap off chicken before trying to defrost it in a fucking frying pan. Yeah. Now on that particular day I happened to drop by with his groceries then and smelled the godblasted plastic! He had the bad habit of unplugging the smoke detector "because the damn thing keeps going off for no good reason".

So it was high time for the family to have put their foot down. He couldn't even remember to read the notes he wrote to himself at our urging and stuck on the inside of the back door, stuff like "Don't go out today, it's too icy, a neighbor will bring your mail and groceries." So he'd go out and usually manage all aright but one day Deb, a neighbor who also drives a school bus, was passing buy and saw him lying in the snow near the mailbox. She pulled the bus over and quick ran and helped him up and into the house but it was like 20º outside so who knows if he could have got up and got back in ok by himself. Yet that was not the last time he pulled a stunt like that. He just couldn't remember not to give it a shot and he wanted his mail and newspaper.

Bottom line: by time we really need assisted living or to be in a nursing home, we might be pretty resistant to the idea thanks to mental decline and the attendant dissembling that goes on as that decline worsens. It pays for the next gen to keep having those talks, and so to help keep the person grounded in reality. The reality is we may end up telling ourselves we're okay past when we're really not capable of knowing if we're ok or not.

On the other hand, it can work out best for a long time and maybe for a lifetime to have the person stay in the home and have home heath care aides and hired help for cleaning and so forth. It all depends on the health of the person and their capability as they age.
Having the parent be local makes a huge difference instead of having to jump on an airplane which seems unworkable from a hands on perspective.
 

Scepticalscribe

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Is he a social person? The forced (or seemingly forced) socialization would prevent my mother from ever moving to a senior facility. She’s looked at them. My aunt and uncle were serious about it until the three of them visited a place at lunch time and were told by some of the residents that they couldn’t sit where they sat because the regulars sat there. Very cliquish. 🤷‍♀️ So all of them remain in their apartments, 2 buildings apart. Meanwhile, my uncle’s daughter-in-law (my cousin’s wife) manages a senior care facility in Chicago and her family owns several in FL.

Asking whether the elder is a social person is a good question, but so is to ask how they see themselves.

When my mother was still mobile we insisted that she attend a day care centre (two different ones, one was run by the (state) health board, the other by the Alzheimers' society), attending each of them once a week; meals - hot meals, a traditional hot lunch, which many of the elders liked - were supplied, in addition, there was music and games - in other words, activities, the elders didn't just sit around doing nothing staring at walls.

She didn't see herself as part of that demographic ("it's full of old people," she complained to my brother when he collected her having brought her there on her first day - he likened it to bringing a small child to school for the first time).

We insisted that she attend the day care centres mainly to give the carer a break; caring for someone with dementia all day every day is exhausting and can lead to carer burn-out.

This is especially the case when the trajectory of the condition means that recovery is not just a wild dream, but an utterly impossible dream, because not only will they not get better, they cannot but deteriorate endlessly in an inevitable, sometimes hilarious, yet often heart-breaking manner.

Remember, these people - even when memory is eroded - have lived lives of autonomy and responsibility, and this is how they still see themselves (when lucid).

Losing their independence - having run their lives, run companies, held senior positions, had responsibility, raised families where their word and will matters - is very painful, and humiliating, and will be intimately tied into their self image, their sense of themselves, and their sense of self-respect.

Accepting advice, counsel, support and - indeed instructions - from their own children, - whose lives they once ran - will be hard, irrespective of how close and affectionate and egalitarian the relationship as adults will have been.

For, egalitarian relationships (which were tied to egalitarian principles and liberal views) are one thing (and, as an adult, I cherished, enjoyed, savoured and treasured such a thing, a close friendship with my parents - they loved it and relished it and savoured it, too), but an inversion of the classic parent-child relationship, whereby age compels the parents to become the dependants, and where the children take responsibility for the life of the elder - in our case we eventually went to the High Court to obtain an Enduring Power of Attorney - is (psychologically, let alone physically) very, very difficult to deal with, both for the children and for the parents/elders.

You managed to do so well by your mom and finding such great carers to help out.
Thank you.

Yes, we did, and yes, we all agree that we can look at ourselves in the mirror. There is grief but no guilt, sorrow, but no regrets.

My mother never wanted to go into a care home, and regarded such places with undisguised horror.

And, in my father's case - cancer did for him, but he retained his mental faculties until the end which made matters, such as caring for him at home (with state support systems in place), a lot easier - we were able to care for him at home until five days before he died. Besides, he was an excellent patient, considerate of others, and very mindful of the strain everyone else was under.

And, with dementia, because of the annihilation of your mental capacity, you do not always actually understand that you have not been abandoned by those whom you love, when you move (or are moved) into a care home, bereft of family and/or friends and removed from familiar surroundings.

The carer - and her friends - had heartbreaking stories of some of the elders for whom they had cared, people who had been moved to a care home when the care needs became too great, and who had died within weeks.

I remember - around a month before my own mother died - the carer had some of her friends around to dinner; their stories were heart-breaking: "The old lady I looked after went into a home and died after six weeks;" "the old gentleman I cared for went into a home and died after two weeks," and so on.

She wished to stay at home as long as possible - and we were lucky that we were able to facilitate this, for she stayed at home until the very end, passing away in her own bed just before midnight on the night of 21st December, 2018.

However, having said that, we were lucky that we had such wonderful support - the state support systems were invaluable and necessary - and the carer was superlative; I have no doubt whatsoever that my mother lived for at least three extra years on account of the superb care she received (and we had the carer living with us and caring for my mother for six full years).

Moreover, we were also lucky re both social class, and the the fact that state support systems and public healthcare provisions exist: My mother had two pensions, - my father's and her own - and substantial savings, all of which were exhausted with her care. Furthermore, we have a pretty large house, - which meant we had more than sufficient space to equip my mother's room as needed, (hoists, day chair, air mattress, hospital bed etc) and everyone could escape to their own corners when circumstances called for some personal space.

Social class meant that my brother and I could also part fund my mother's care - we had the education and qualifications to be able to work in positions which allowed us to be able to afford to do this, and, okay, the sort of respective characters - and good relationships with our parents - which made us want to do this.

And personal circumstances also came into play: We none of us have any children - and only Other Brother has a partner, my German sister-in-law, whereas neither Decent Brother nor I are married, have partners, nor have we other emotional or caring commitments or responsibilities; in other words, we were able to give my mother the quality of care she needed without other comitments competing.

However, I will not deny that it wasn't difficult - sometimes, very difficult - at times.
 
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Pumbaa

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Having the parent be local makes a huge difference instead of having to jump on an airplane which seems unworkable from a hands on perspective.
This hit too close to home…

Having to jump on an airplane certainly is unworkable, especially when the parent is autonomous enough to get themselves into trouble. Or taken advantage of. The things you get told from afar and the things you can observe while visiting once in a while rarely tell the whole story.

Having to jump on an airplane also really complicates final farewells.
 

Clix Pix

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Scepticalscribe, you and your family had an advantage that many families dealing with elderly parents in the US do not have: the benefits of the NHS providing much support in addition to that you and your brothers were able to afford privately in order for your mother to remain in her own home. You, your two brothers and your mother were very, very fortunate in being able to keep her at home in her own safe, familiar environment with good, reliable caring from a live-in carer that you could trust, etc., etc. That carer sounds like such a gem! The current family who has her is very lucky. Also, yes, you being able to continue to use the family home in which you had grown up as your permanent resident/address/ place to live, a base from which to come-and go through the years, on-and off between deployments to other locations during your past employment has been a big plus, too, one which is increasingly rare in this day and age. That sort of situation is not at all common in the US.

Aside from all that, as someone at age 76 who is now definitely in the age cohort where living arrangements at some future point in time could be a consideration, with or without my consent and agreement, I can fully understand the unwillingness to move to somewhere else, to uproot myself from what has been "home," both the general Northern Virginia/ Greater Washington DC area and also my particular dwelling, my current condominium unit. As an only child I have no siblings and while there are cousins out there somewhere, there is no closeness there. There is a somewhat closer connection with family on my late husband's side, but there are also differences in thinking about some issues, not to mention that my niece and nephew by marriage already have plenty of their own family responsibilities on their plates, dealing with children's various medical situations and such. I figure that I'm pretty much on my own here.

I have visited with friends who were living in various independent living facilities or in nursing homes / now AKA as "skilled nursing facilities" and I am not attracted to either situation. Even the independent living situations seem to put a lot of emphasis on "social activities" and such. Although there may in some situations still be an illusion of "independence," to a large extent that has gone the day one moves into such a place. One couple (who are now both deceased) lived in what really was a beautiful place, in their own (purchased) apartment which was quite nice and they enjoyed the benefits of having privacy in their home while also being able to go downstairs each evening to one of the dining rooms for their evening meal and partaking of any of the group activities which seemed appealing to them. They did have options, nothing was forced on them. Social activities were on offer for those who were interested in such. They made friends in the community and had a lot of support both from their friends and the community in general as well as of course, professional staff. That sort of relaxed environment which provided a sense of independence while also providing the safety and security of help being quickly and really available was very pleasant and overall very appealing. However, while that particular place was very nice, it certainly was way out of my reach financially, as it would be for many people.

Someone else who didn't have the financial resources of that couple and who also had health issues which complicated matters that required skilled nursing care spent her last couple of years in a nursing home, and again there was the community aspect, the meeting of others and developing of friendships, the sociability through various activities which weren't really forced on residents.....but no getting around it that this was a more restrictive environment out of necessity. Finances played a major role, as many of the residents of the nursing home were on Medicaid and had no other resources. Services provided were limited, the environment itself was not exactly luxurious. She was fortunate in that she had a daughter and son-in-law who were very attentive, who spent a lot of their time there stopping in to visit with her and also made sure that she had everything she wanted and felt she needed..... She was also a more sociable kind of person and she really enjoyed being out in the community participating in the activities that she could and making friends. While the nursing home was not an ideal situation and something which she had resisted for a long time in the end, based on her physical health and also her noticeably declining mental acuity it was what was needed.

So, yes, this whole question of what to do when Mom or Dad or Auntie or Uncle or both are getting up there in age and while things may be fine right now there's always the possibility or even likelihood of something happening which changes things overnight, is not an easy situation for anyone, either the person(s) who would directly going to be feeling and experiencing the impact of some big change or the loving family members who just want them to be happy and safe wherever they are living.....
 
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Clix Pix

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To clarify something, the usual meaning of "group home" in the US is not a large facility where there are a lot of people living such as a nursing home/skilled living facility or an independent living facility..... True, there is a group of people living in a collective group but it's not the same as what is commonly regarded as a "group home." The latter is usually a house within a regular residential community of houses, and there may be as many as five or six individuals living within the home along with staff who are there to keep things moving along smoothly. Group homes are usually established for situations where residents have a particular health situation in common, such as being in the recovery process from an addiction disorder, or dealing with a particular situation such as being on the autism spectrum or living with physical or mental disabilities which benefit from the 24/7 availability of professional personnel to assist with activities of daily living.

While I have heard that there are some lifestyle communities that in recent years have developed which focus on bringing together elderly people to form their own version of a group home either within the same building or with separate living quarters, neither of which is as structured as either assisted living or nursing home facilities, I don't think that this is all that common yet in the US?
 

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He is social on his terms, he built airplanes as a hobby and his social life was centered on the county airport. He had a list of friends who have passed away or moved away. Since COVID, he complains of living like a hermit, so I think having a group of people in the same boat that he can socialize with on his terms, when he wants would be appealing to him.

We are visiting a friend in Tulsa this weekend, and he called this morning in semi-panic saying he was tearing his house up (sorting, arranging, getting ready to sell items), and he might be better just staying put. This evening he called as if this morning never happened. The move to Houston is still on. :unsure:

There comes a time when elders have issues managing their affairs, and the rub is when the threshold is crossed where assisted living is required. One half of the couple might pass away or have dementia where the other can no longer take care of them. I have always hopedd my demise is keel-over class. :)
Mrs AFB tells me she’ll go when I do and I have no doubt she means it. We have no dependents or family, so if I end up with dementia or anything else that means I’m unable to look after myself, I’ll probably get a pillow over my face one evening!
Assisted living is not for everyone. If the idea sounds terrible then there are other options (for us anyway). No point living somewhere you’d hate.
 

Clix Pix

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Yes, I definitely am not the assisted living sort, would spend most of my time in my room or apartment on the computer anyway! LOL! Also I would insist that periodically the shuttle bus take me to the nearest Apple store for a look around even if I couldn't purchase anything......
 

Huntn

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My Dad has been up and down, pro and no. He called me one morning overwhelmed and told me he was staying put. Then later that evening he called to tell me his progress on arrangements as if that morning had not happened.

My brother may have blown it, jumping on a plane and flying down to see him, reassuring and encouraging him for just an afternoon, and boy was it a pain, full planes and $200/ day rental car. Plus he did not tell him he was coming. I looked dimly upon this plan. Upon the end of his visit Dad declared he was staying out again, this in the middle of making estate auction arrangements. Well... I already knew and so did my brother that Dad does not respond well to being pushed.

So today, I’m back to wait and see mode. What really irritates me is that the perfect place for him to go to is 1 mile away, a great facility, relatively low cost, but they only have 1 one bedroom apartment available, and most likely he will end up losing out on it. :confused:
 

Huntn

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Yes, I definitely am not the assisted living sort, would spend most of my time in my room or apartment on the computer anyway! LOL! Also I would insist that periodically the shuttle bus take me to the nearest Apple store for a look around even if I couldn't purchase anything......
If you are of an independent spirit, the good thing about senior living facilities is that there are people who can assist you as needed, and you can socialize as much as you want to.
 

Huntn

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Mrs AFB tells me she’ll go when I do and I have no doubt she means it. We have no dependents or family, so if I end up with dementia or anything else that means I’m unable to look after myself, I’ll probably get a pillow over my face one evening!
Assisted living is not for everyone. If the idea sounds terrible then there are other options (for us anyway). No point living somewhere you’d hate.
Just to clarify, senior living/assisted living is not a nursing home, which are generally dreadful. The place I scoped out for my Dad feels like a resort. Tall ceilings, wide corridors, movie theater, craft room, exercise facility, pool, and lots of activities.

If you are old and alone, this is the perfect way to find company. My wife’s Mom stays with my wife’s sister and her Mom is not that happy, feeling like a third wheel. She was more much happy living in a senior facility with apartments before her husband passed away.
 

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Yes, I definitely am not the assisted living sort, would spend most of my time in my room or apartment on the computer anyway! LOL! Also I would insist that periodically the shuttle bus take me to the nearest Apple store for a look around even if I couldn't purchase anything......

Amen to that.
 

Apple fanboy

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Just to clarify, senior living/assisted living is not a nursing home, which are generally dreadful. The place I scoped out for my Dad feels like a resort. Tall ceilings, wide corridors, movie theater, craft room, exercise facility, pool, and lots of activities.

If you are old and alone, this is the perfect way to find company. My wife’s Mom stays with my wife’s sister and her Mom is not that happy, feeling like a third wheel. She was more much happy living in a senior facility with apartments before her husband passed away.
Sounds like my idea of hell. We both like our own company. The appeal of the place we just bought is the distance from our neighbours. If money was no object, it would have been a lot further!
 
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