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Elderly parents (again)

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Lalad, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    Last year I posted about my parents, who have since moved into sheltered accommodation near us but are now considering residential care.
    My dad is 86, frail, unsteady and has just recovered from a heart attack. He also has skin cancer and has recently completed a course of radiotherapy, excision of a cancerous tumour and plastic surgery. While hospitalised he became incontinent and now has a catheter which he struggles to manage. Since leaving hospital two weeks ago he is often confused and breathless and I dont think he is taking the tablets he should be taking. I have been going in several times a day when I can to make sure he does and to empty his catheter, but his urine is very dark and I think he is restricting his liquid intake so as not to have to empty it. He looks very tired and has lost a lot of weight.
    My mother is 78, incontinent, walks with a frame and is finding it very difficult to cope. They have just sold their house, so have over £100,000 of capital. Residential care here costs around £550 a week each. They currently have carers in twice a day, costing approx £1000 a month.
    Last week I spent a lot of time looking into residential care and found what I thought would be the ideal care home for them; they have both been to see it and after a lot of soul searching, have today agreed to go there for a fortnight with a view to possibly staying there.
    When I emailed my brothers and sisters (big family) to let them know this, one of my brothers replied to say that he doesnt think this is the right thing to do and that they should stay in their own home for as long as possible - he is also concerned about their capital being depleted. I understand how he feels, but he is not here with them and I dont think he realises how vulnerable they have become. I think he thinks they are doing it because they think it will make things easier for me.
    I thought they had reached the correct decision for them but now I am not so sure. On the other hand, I look at them sometimes and am so worried about them that I hate leaving them alone in case one of them has a fall or something else happens. They have only been in their current place since February and have had the ambulance or paramedics out on 5 or 6 occasions. Of course I want them to keep their independence for as long as they can, but I also want them to be safe and I dont feel they are.
    How can I convince my brother?
  2. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Tell your brother you want a month's respite from being your parents' first point of contact and it's now his turn, or arrange a care rota within your family to give the rest a taste of it. He's in no position to call the shots if he's not there for them. Also, be honest with yourself - it will make things easier for you because you know your parents will be safer. What's wrong with that?

    My sister lived round the corner from our Mum, and picked up a lot of the daily problems when Mum's mental confusion grew worse, while I lived 100 miles away. It got to the point where Mum wasn't coping at home and my sister was at her wits' end trying to deal with it all. With my full agreement Mum was admitted to a hospice, then later a nursing home for terminal care. I was fortunately in a position (working part-time) to support my sister at that point by splitting the week between us, doing my share of the daily visits, and bringing Mum back to her house from time to time. It ran us both into the ground, but we knew in our Mum's case that she didn't have much time left. If your brother has had no experience of how tough that routine can be, including living away from his own home for days on end to help out and visit then in my humble opinion he's got no say in the matter.

    The decision to move ageing parents into care is one of the toughest you'll ever make - the last thing you need is siblings bickering about it from a nice safe distance.
  3. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    Thanks magic - it has been such an exhausting few days and I felt so relieved that things seemed to have been resolved, so I suppose I am now worried that he will try to talk them out of it. We haven't fallen out over it, but I'm struggling to find the words to explain how important it is that they get the care they need.
  4. Get him to empty a catheter - once. Then challange him to care for your parents for a week.
    Why is he worrying about their capital? It sounds as thought (sorry no nice way to say this) your parents are entering the last stages of life. One thing money can buy is care, quality care.
    I don't know your family or you, but just reading that made me think he is actually worrying about his inheritance.

    You are not 'putting them in a home', it is up to them to choose, not you and not your brother, it sounds as though you have done everything you can to find a safe place for your parents and thay are giving it a try.

    BTW, your dad's confusion may be linked to him not having enough oxygen if he is breathless, he might need some oxygen - but obviously talk abot this with his doctor it might be something else completely.
  5. polly.glot

    polly.glot New commenter

    I couldn't agree more with sash. If your siblings feel that they need to make a verbal contribution, rather than relying on your sound judgement, then it's time they put in their fair share of the hard yard. Obviously you care deeply about your parents' well-being and would do only what is best for them,
    I'm having the same dilemma at the moment with my elderly mother, who does not want to be in a care home, but she is incapable of independent living. It's very hard for everyone.
    Good luck, m'dear, and do encourage the others to do their share.

    ROSIEGIRL Senior commenter

    I can only echo what others have said.
    How often does your brother see mum and dad? How far away does he live? He simply may not grasp how fragile they are now, so he needs to spend some time with them to get the full picture of their health and care needs.
    I hope you can resolve this soon - what a worry for you. Good luck (and a hug too).

  7. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    No apology needed - I think you are right, but I dont think my brother wants to hear this. He's also a wealthy man which is why I'm surprised he's bothered about capital depletion.
    I think there are a number of factors involved in my dad's confusion - he has tablets to stablilise his heart, which he is taking erratically and this could be restricting his oxygen intake as you say, but I also think he may have a UTI as we are waiting on results for that.
    Polly, I am sorry you are having to deal with this too - it is not easy at the best of times.
    Thanks for the hug Rosie - might save that for later!
  8. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    Given this, and your concern that your Dad is restricting his fluid intake, it appears that the current care arrangements aren't working adequately.
    That is a good reason for your parents going into a home where they can have access to care 24/7. It isn't easy but it sounds like the right thing. Have another hug (((Lalad)))
  9. I really feel for you, I am in a similar position with my mother but in reverse. I too am from a large family of 5. Myself and my youngest sister are doing the majority of care and it's my eldest sister and brother who are pushing for mum to go in a home. At the moment we are coping with her staying in her own home but we realise it's not going to be for a whole lot longer. It's hard when family members don't agree. We are all fairly equally distanced away from mum, about one hour unfortunately, but only two of us visit regularly. We are al in similar circumstances so there's no reason why the others couldn't take an equal share. But there we go.
    Do what you know is right. I think if they were my parents I would be taking exactly the same path as you are. You get to the point when you know it's right for the next stage. As to the money, be glad they have some to be able to pay for choice of care. An inheritance is nice but it's not a right. Your parents care comes first.
    You are making the right decision. There is lots of good advice here. The very best of luck to you.
  10. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Lead commenter

    We've been through all this in the past year too, and it is phsyically mentally and emotionally draining. In our case, my father in law refused to receive any care and the family did what they could for as long as possible but in the end he had to be sectioned and moved into first a psychiatric unit for assessment and then a care home. He hated it but there was no other choice really. He died a few weeks ago.
    You need to protect yourself at this time too, this is where your parents need to be, not just for them to recieve the best end of life care, but also for your own sanity and well being. Its easy for your brother when he's not hands on.
    Its a tough time, looking after our parents, and watching them often fade away in front of our eyes, and its emotionally demanding. I know when my FiL did pass away, we all wondered how we had managed to keep going for so long. But it is also reassuring to feel that he had the best care possible in his last few weeks (even though he didnt want it!).
    Take care xx
  11. dominant_tonic

    dominant_tonic Established commenter

    Hi OP. I am fuming on your behalf. Some know that my grandmother passed away last week, and my mother and I had been sharing her care between us with homecare coming in as well. It was the most difficult thinkg I have ever done. Emotionally and physically draining. I have spent the last month crying on and off, because I have been trying to take the responibility from mum.
    It is not easy, and your brother needs to wise up.No holds barred, tell him that unless he is prepared to come to your area for a month to look after your mum so you can have a break, then you as the main carer have the ultimate say. As for capital depletion, it is their money not his and it's not up to him to decide what to do with it. I know this sounds harsh, but I am not apologising for it.
    ABSOLUTELY! This is important. You will be no good to your parents if you end up even half as shattered and drained as I was.
    I feel so strongly
    about this, because I never realised, possibly naively, how difficult it
    was to care for someone. You are so important to your parents. You have to look after
    yourself otherwise you'll be no use to anyone.
    Sorry it's got this difficult stage for you, but if you can, stick to your guns. You see them daily, you know what is right for them, try not be put-off by those who have the luxury of looking at it fron a distance.
    Hope it all works out for you, look after yourself. xx
    Grumbleweed - sorry about your father-in-law, sounds like you have had a difficult time. Take care of yourself xx

  12. Hi your situation sounds a bit like my grandparents a few years ago. They didn't move into sheltered accomodation and regretted it later. When my grandfather died, my grandmother struggled on in their large house until it got too much for her and she ended up in a home for a few years.
    anyway, it sounds like your folks have reached the point where they need 24 hour care, possibly even nursing care. You need to their needs assessed as if they require more than basic care, thry should get help with the costs of the home regardless of any capital. They would till probably need to top up what they get with money from their pensions and capital. They rules are complicated and local authorities and the nhs always try to get out of their responsibilties, so you may need advice from the CAB or a lawyer to help you fight for their rights.

    It is really good that they have found somewhere that they both like that will take them. If you leave it until a crisis, they will have limited choice and may not be able to be together.

    As for your brother, you need to tell him (a) he is not hands on and so does not understand their needs; (b) that you cannot maintain your current level of support let alone increase it; (c) that their capital is their money to spend on improving their quality of life.
    if they have sold their house where else they to live?
  13. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    I just wanted to confirm that you are doing the right thing. Until someone is in the situation of having to care for someone or in your case 2 people they do not understand. There is all the worry that goes with it as well that brings you down. My father had to go in home just over a year ago. Before that I was visiting twice a week and my brother 2 days as well. We started Meals on Wheels which he somehow managed to cancel after a week. We took him ready meals etc which he wasn't bothering to eat but just wanted to drink wine as it would hopefully send him to sleep and stop some of his boredom and loneliness.We also found pills he was supposed to have taken dropped on the floor. It is incredible the strain it puts on you mentally and physically. I won't go into any more personal details here. Once they are in a home you have that peace of mind that they are safe and cared for. You don't stop worrying but you know there is always someone there to look after them. You know they are getting fed and they are weighed regularly so everything is monitored. We knew we had to do something when he had his final fall and was left on the floor all night until lunch time the next day as no one realised.
    I used to have to drive an hour to see him he is now living 10 minutes away which makes life so much easier. If you have found a nice home and your parents are reasonably happy with it as well then GO FOR IT.
  14. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    Ohers have said it better than me. You are doing the right thing. As for you brother,it sounds as if he is worrying about his inheritance being wipped out. It's their money,they should spend it on themselves.
  15. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    I've just read these replies after getting in from my parents' place. It has been a truly awful day.
    This morning when I went in to see them my dad was in a dreadful state, with soaking wet trousers and really agitated. He said no carer had turned up and when they rang the care office said they couldnt sent anyone because they had 3 carers off sick. So at 86 years old, there is my dad with a full bed bag and leg bag trailing on the floor while he tries to make breakfast for my mum. In the end he got a pair of scissors and cut them both off, which is why he was soaking wet when I arrived. After I complained to the manager, the community nurses were called and came in to sort him out.
    Earlier this evening I had said I would take them in a Chinese takeaway, got there about 5.30 and 5 minutes after I arrived heard a scream and a crash from the bathroom - my mother had fallen backwards on to the floor. I couldn't get her up and had to call an amubulance which thankfully came quite quickly. It doesn't look as though she has injured herself too much, just bruising but while that was going on the evening carer came and was helping my dad get ready for bed. She callled me in and my dad has massive bruises on his forearms, his stomach and his chest. The carer said she was last in 3 nights ago and he didn't have them then. He is vague about where they have come from but thinks he may have fallen or "someone may have caused them". I can't begin to describe how this has made me feel. He can't or won't explain. One of the bruises on the right hand side of his stomach looks really bad and there is a hard swelling underneath it - he winced when I touched it, but thought I hadn't noticed.
    I just hope against hope that I can get them both in to the residential home tomorrow and persuade their GP to visit them. After tonight, I'm convinced that it would be disastrous for them to spend another night where they are.
  16. Lalad

    Hugs to you and your parents - please copy your message above to your brother.
    That is a terrible situation, no human being should be put through what you and your parents have experienced in the last few hours.

  17. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    Poor you and poor them. What a way to end their lives.

    ROSIEGIRL Senior commenter

    What an awful day. I hope you can get them somewhere safe today where they can be looked after and you can have some peace of mind. Surely your brother will see sense now.
    And another, bigger hug heading your way.
  19. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    I think we are all feeling for you. I do hope you have them in a safe caring home now. Please let us know if things are a bit better today.
    Best wishes and lots of hugs.
  20. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    I've just got back and am so tired...it has been a really long day and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and hibernate!
    The staff at the residential home were so welcoming and accommodating - nothing seemed to be too much trouble and I think my parents felt at home there straight away. The other residents were very friendly too and the atmosphere in the place is bright, warm and colourful. I had to make two trips in the end because my mum couldn't get in my car so we had to use a lower one for her and then come back for my dad and their things in the big car but at least they are there now.
    It is a very weird feeling to be leaving your aged parents in the care of strangers - they looked quite small and vulnerable when I left, but I am thankful that they are somewhere where they will have help and support available at all times. That counts for a lot.
    Thank you for all your good wishes and hugs - I didn't realise how exhausted I was until I sat down!
    Lalad x

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