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Thread: Dealing with aging parents

  1. #1

    Dealing with aging parents

    My father-in-law will be 74 in a few months. For the past couple years he's had a nerve related problem with his legs and back, such that he can't stand or walk for more than a few minutes before he loses control of his legs and has to sit and regroup. Also has some breathing issues that pretty well eliminated any physically taxing activities several years back. His hearing has gotten very bad, and his hands and head shake noticeably. Recently, he seems to be confused frequently... which at first I attributed to the hearing issue... but now we think it may be more than that. There are times when he simply doesn't know things that we know he knows... and no amount of explaining helps. His personality has always been on the verge of being irritating, but now he has periods of downright hatefullness towards the people close to him, oftentimes for no good reason, and usually with no forewarning. LOML and I have talked with her mother, and she says we really don't know the half of it.

    We've began to talk about it may be time to start 'taking things away' from him... and he's not gonna like that even a tiny bit. Can anybody recommend a good book on dealing with what looks like it might be Alzheimer's?

  2. #2
    Nope, but I feel for you. My Grandfather had that disease, and while he passed away at home with no time spent in the hospital or in a nursing home, it was not easy.

    It is the WORST disease I can think of to be honest with you. Still we cannot chose how we live out our last years can we?

    Again, I feel for you from the bottom of my heart.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Kirk, I don't have any books to suggest, but I will say that the money we paid an attorney to help steer us through what we've been through lately was a wise investment.

    My wife's 85-year-old mom has been bouncing back and forth between a nursing home and the hospital since September (including into and back out of hospice care), and figuring out the rules and juggling the paperwork has been a eye-opening experience. (And it's structly us making the decisions, since her mom has some dementia issues and is now incapable of making those types of choices.) Fortunately, an attorney (and good friend) who used to work at the firm where my wife works went into private practice specializing elderly law. We used her services a few years ago to set up a trust and a few other legal wranglings for my mother-in-law's meager assets, and she made it clear then that we could contact her for advice any time in the future. Over the past few months, we have taken her up on the offer She has been a godsend, guiding us through the Medicare and Medi-Cal minefield, and helping ensure we get the best care possible for LOML's mom. It sure has helped my wife's stress levels. There have been several times when we would not have known some of the ramifications of our decisions without guidance from someone who knows the ins and outs of taking care of older folks. If possible, I recommend that you find someone who specializes in elderly law to help you and your wife.

    It's tough stuff that most of us have to deal with at some point in our lives. My thoughts and best wishes are with you and your family.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    i dont have any resoursces either other than what vaughn mentioned,, my parents are in pretty good shape right now but i have seen dad and moms trials with there parents and some of the pitfalls that dad has fell into in the past with insurance and money mangers...get some real good help like vaughn said becasue someof the folk out there sayin there there to help are parent got swindled out of several thousand and would have lost more if ihadnt stepped in...there are many health venues out there that can help you and your family sand there are good legal personal too.. keep your chin up kirk and relize that waht is being done and said from this family memebr isnt really meant also you should take acloser look at the lady that said you aint seen it all.. she needs help to and wont ask for it ..she just figures its her responbilty to take it not the case....
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  5. #5

    First....get a medical diagnosis of Alzheimer's. Then do some research in your area for places that specialize in the treatment and for support groups. There have been, IIRC, some pretty significant developments recently in the treatment for Alzheimers.

    2ndly, if your FIL has hearing loss....bear with him. I have about 30% of normal hearing and it's frustrating.........It's kinda like your in this world and sometimes you can hear and understand what's being said but most often you can't......It's extemely frustrating.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Carlyle IL
    Kirk, you are not alone...

    I just walked back to my shop (flower shop) from my parents house. It's on the other end of the block. Dad called me 45 minutes ago to help pick mom off the floor again. this happens about once a week. Macular Degenration, Dementia, and a stroke 3 years ago have taken their toll on my mom.

    it's time for your fil to see some specialists.

    Last edited by Joe Mioux; 12-29-2007 at 04:59 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Central NY State
    Kirk, though it sounds like your FIL is at an early stage of Alzheimers, there are a number of treatable conditions that can look the same. Thyroid disorders, brain tumor, B12 or folate deficiencies, even depression - bottom line is he needs to be evaluated by a physician skilled in diagnosis. If it is Alzheimers, then there are medications that can help slow down its progression, and starting earlier is better than later.

    Start with your FIL's physician and go forward. Best wishes to you all, it may be a hard road ahead...

    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  8. #8
    Retired military, using the miltary health system... which can either be fantasic or horrid, depending on lots of things. I've not been overly impressed with the care he and his wife have had over the years... but he is in the system. Getting him to submit to treatment is going to be the trick.

    He adamantly refuses to even consider a hearing aid or scooter chair.

    Thanks for the replies.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Kirk, the dementia may, or may not be Alzheimer's. Regardless, as his condition deteriorates, life will become more and more difficult for everyone around him. Yes, do take 'things' away from him with which he might injure himself or others. He needs a doctor to diagnose his condition. Surprisingly, he may just be on too many medications. This is not unusual with older people. Doctors will prescribe for a condition, then another and so on. Some elderly people take 20 to 40 different pills every day and are, literally, drugged out of their minds. No one is to be blamed for this, it is just a fact of modern medical life. Do have that looked into. But, if his condition is clearly going to be all downhill, you have to make some tough decisions. The number one is: care for yourself and family. Dad, or FIL, may need care but that should not entail destroying the life and health of all those around him. Do check with agencies set up to deal with situations like this. One, the Area Agency on Aging will point you in all the right directions. If his mind is still good, do get legal advise so far as setting up a living trust, will and power of attorney. And, then do get a living will for the inevitable end stage decisions. Understand that the best decision very well may be a nursing home. Unless he is very wealthy, this difficult decision will drain all his assets but will relieve the family from the impossible task of care taking. I have gone through a similar situation with my mother and many friends and spend some time advising on just this situation in our retirement community. I see it often. And, now, as I approach that point in life, I understand what kind of burdens it is possible to put on family just by getting old and ill. Good luck. Keep us informed about what you are doing and how he is getting along.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Tokiwadai, Japan

    This is the book that helped my Mom and our family understand and deal with my Dad's dementia. It's a terrible disease that effects the family almost as much, or more, than the person themselves. My heart goes out to you.

    The 36 Hour Day.

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