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Caregiver Issues


Couch Tomato
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I know a few of us are taking care of parents. You know, the one thing that truly bothers me is that doctors today just seems to prescribe medicine as a way to deal with everything. My mom takes so many medications I worry at how they are all mixing together.

Now, without anybody talking to us at all, they took my mom off one of her medications. I googled it today only to discover that it was taken off the market because it puts patients at risk for heart attack and strokes. This one was called zelnorm.

Now today, warnings are going out for avandia - that's her diabetes medication that has done a wonderful job stablizing her sugar levels. Now THAT is said to put her at a risk for heart atttacks and she's already had 3 of those.

I just can't stand that we are basically out here on our own trying to figure these things out.

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When I find a good doctor (not the doctor that gave methe happy gall bladder sad gall bladder comic book to anser all my questions about side effects of the operation) I stick with them.

WHy I say this is becuase my mother was being sent to a doctor for an operation where they take out her aorta and replace it with a dacron tube. I went to talk to her doctoer about this and he was rude to why I was there asking questions - so I talked to my doctor about it, she requested my mother's records and the doctore refused to release them saying he owned the test results - I had to threaten him with a law suit - but eventually my doctor got all my mother's records and spent time examining her and told my mother her chances and left the decision to her. It wasa 50% chance of surviving the operation and 90% being in a wheel chair for the rest of her life. My mother decided against it and possibly died earlier, but enjoyed the life she had left. I am going to miss my doctor since my new insurance is an HMO.

WHen it came to my father's Parkinson's and apparently his losing all his senses and becoming scarey, I got him away from his doctor and into an evaluation in a special program in a hospital only 40 minutes away. They discovered he was horribly mis dosed and when his medication was reduced to 1/7th, he regained his faculties to a large extent. As to being alone - my mother was thrilled whn I got them to go to the monthly Parkinson's meetings - My father actulally enjoyed it and they learned so much. We were afraid that he would get depressed seeing people sink into the worst of the disease and eventually die - but instead he felt that he found people who understood and he talked to them.

I think groups like these are not too time consuming (and luckily my Mom was able to take my father to these meetings) and they share the knowledge - they share what they learn and it was run in a hospital by the staff, so they were very up on things. You should talk to your Mother's doctor though, there is no reason they are not telling you why the medication is changed. (when a patient dies, they shared the medication and equiptment - we dropped off my Mom's aphasia computer software for use for other patients. )

I think you might want to see if there is a monthly diabetes meeting group in your area - can't hurt.

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I just heard about this last night, I am calling my mom this morning to see if she is still taking this. they just switched her diabetic meds last month and im not sure if they took this one away or not.. one of them was causing her to put on like 50lbs in 6mo...so they dropped it and put her on bieta (sp?) shots and she lost 15lbs so far in a month thank goodness. she had to have a heart stent in Nov 05. and has never been able to breathe right since, but they say its nothing to do with that stent. seems odd to me. they ruled out heart failure, lung problems or asthma, heart problem/blockage, no reason for her shortness of breath. what do you do???????? its so frustrating.

anyone that has neuropathy, she found a product that really helps her...at an unlikely place..its horse litament found in a vet store or pet supply store. she could barely stand the pain anymore and now this stuff is like a miracle to her.

and she swears by alpha lapoic acid to help her blood sugars. she finally after 20 yrs has hers in control to where she went from being maxed out on her pills 5 a day..to 2 now. and her numbers are in the normal range for the first time!

ask you doctors

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Long term type 2 diabetic here too (20 years). I take a lot of pills (Byetta too), but they do their job, I know what each one does, and have copies of my lab work to back it up. There's a risk with taking meds, but without them, I'd probably be dead already, or be blind and in constant pain, which to me is worse. With them, so far, no complications at all. If there was any way to clone my doc, I'd want every diabetic in the world to see her.

What choices do doctors have? Education, medication, and for some things, surgery. Education has to come first - what lifestyle changes can help? are you willing to do them? what are your medication choices? side effects? We're dealing with the human body here; it's complicated, and not everyone reacts the same way. And the doctor may have 10-15 minutes to decide, for you or with you, what's the best balance. So many patients are passive about their own care (and probably many doctors don't want questioning patients either).

The news deals with soundbites, and while 43% rise in heart attacks sounds like a lot, it was a tiny percentage of people who had heart attacks. I think a lot of people will be switched to Actos, though. Same family of drugs, just no evidence of increased heart attacks (yet).

Any of the drugs in this family can cause an increase in water retention, so people can gain weight (and can't this cause breathing problems?) If the patient was formerly "out of control" and spilling sugar in the urine, the new control will cause that sugar to be stored instead of lost, so that can cause weight gain as well.

Byetta's wonderful (to me) because it really killed my formerly constant hunger. It's only been on the market a couple of years, so I'm waiting for its long term side effects to pop up...

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One thing you should keep in mind is that you should never discontinue taking one of these meds without talking to your doctor first (or at least the nurse so they can put it in the records). If there was an emergency and they got the records from the doctor it might cause confusion and she might not get something that might help her because they think she is taking that medication. I'm not sure that sounds right. Sometimes my thoughts don't come out straight.

Very few doctors are able to talk easily with their patients or the families. They haven't had any training on that aspect of their practice although I've read that they are starting to add classes in how to communicate with the patient and family. I sure hope so. I am fortunate to have a doctor that is very kind and patient.

The insurance companies have really put the doctors in a crunch when it comes to them having sufficient time with each patient. Insurance has cut down on the amount they will pay the doctors per patient visit so they are trying to see more patientsi n order to make the same amount of money they were making before.

This may sound like I'm sympathetic to the doctors only, but I just wanted to put that out there to think about. It helps to have your thoughts organized (hard for me) and have it down on paper. I try to write down all of the questions I want to ask and then I just hand the paper to my doc and he answers them as well as anything else that might come up.

Also, sometimes you need to make a follow-up appointment. When I was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver caused by NASH (non-alcoholic steatic hepatitus), I was in such shock that I just blocked out the bad part. I should have requested a follow-up visit for a couple of weeks later after I had time to take it in. Some doctors do that automatically, but most don't.

I think playbiller has the right idea about going to the group meetings. I have always found that talking to other people in the same situation helps you put things in perspective.

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Couchtomato (and everyone else in the caregiver situation), I feel for you. I took care of my mother during her last years when she had colon cancer. It's a hard job and it takes up a lot of time. My mom was a very good patient which was rather strange since she had not been all that patient before she got sick. She was not that old at all (64 when she died) and I know I won't be able to be that patient and compliant as I get more sick. She had her moments, of course, but all in all she tried to make it easy for us (my Dad & two other sisters). My Dad, who is 82 and going strong, is going to be another matter altogether.

One problem with our medications is the method they use to test them. They test these things on people who may have the illness they're trying to help but they don't want them to have any other issues that might affect the way their medication reacts. We all know that you rarely have just one thing going on. A person with diabetes may also have high blood pressure, gout, migraine headaches, or a plethora of other illnesses that pop up once you start getting sick. So sometimes there's no way they can tell during their testing the problems that are going to come about once a group of people who also have other problems start taking their meds. I'm sure they have methods to try to take this into account, but they just can't cover all of the bases.

Anyway, just know that you are not alone and that there are a whalloping big bunch of us trying to cope with the same issues. We have to hold each other up.

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Geekette, you make some good points. My mom has been a diabetic probably more like 35 years so we know what that can do to your body if you don't take steps to control things. And we have experienced some of them. And we are constantly dealing with side effects. I mean some you do just have to live with. Often times though there is another medication out there that you can take. I do think we are pretty pro active with her care.

What got me about the zelnorm is that the alert went out on March 30th. This drug was actually taken off the market. We weren't informed by anyone. Basically she ran out, went to get the perscription re-filled. Actually went to the pharmacy a few times (cuz nobody was realizing that oh, they don't make this anymore - they just thought it wasn't in so kept telling us to come back). Finally they said it was off the market - this was 6 weeks after the fact. If my mom was taking a medication for particular thing and now she isn't - what does that mean. But here's the funny part - I think she's been better off without it.

With the avandia - she'll probably continue to take that despite the studies because it has worked better than anything she has ever taken for diabetes.

When my mom was diagnosed with gastro parnesis - her doctor called her to let her know and then told her to pick up her medicine from the pharmacy. That was it. Again, I went online to learn that diet was really the most important thing. We learned what to eat and what not to eat and it has gone a long way for getting that under control.

I'm not really a downer on the medical profession. Lord knows I've been dealing with them forever. My mom is a registered nurse and get her health care in the same system in which she worked for 25 years. I actually think that gets her some professional courtesy. I just feel they treat the system not the person. I guess that's just the way it is.

Play: We've taken diabetes classes together but I think maybe some sort of support group type thing would be good. I'm actually diabetic as well and just thought I knew everything I needed to from dealing with my mom but finally took the classes for myself and they were really really helpful. We've really changed our diet. And believe me, for a country girl from South Carolina this was not easy to do.

No1tv - thanks for the neurapathy tips. We'll look into them.

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This may sound like I'm sympathetic to the doctors only, but I just wanted to put that out there to think about. It helps to have your thoughts organized (hard for me) and have it down on paper. I try to write down all of the questions I want to ask and then I just hand the paper to my doc and he answers them as well as anything else that might come up.

Wow, a simple but great suggestion. I know she does that on occassion but more often than not after seeing her doctor I'll ask my mom..did you tell her about such and such and it's "oh I forgot I'll tell her next time."

My mom has quite a few things going on with her but the toughest times on me was when she had shingles and then last year when she first had this gastro parnesis. Trying to do everything you can is tough enough but when the person can't handle basic things like eating - oh my goodness ... it totally drained me. I've learned finally to ask for help when I need it.

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Couch Tomato - it's gastroparesis, and a big fear of mine...there's so much to look forward to with diabetes, isn't there?

There's a newsgroup called misc.health.diabetes which was very helpful to me a number of years ago. Smart folks there, including a practicing endocrinologist (Dr. Biggs) and a few flakes. J. C. Hartmann's good too, IMHO.

I didn't care for the local diabetes support groups because in the group I went to, most seemed to be there to whine, rather than learn, and the speakers were not up on new stuff at all. I should have looked around for a better group, but between the internet and a good doctor, I've learned a ton...

eta: Hee! Yeah, I'm no librarian, but I learned critical thinking skills a while ago. I stick to the well known sites like ndic and medline, and participating in discussions with other diabetics helps drown out the crap.

Edited by geekette
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I should have looked around for a better group, but between the internet and a good doctor, I've learned a ton...

*puts on librarian hat*

The internet can be fantastic for information about diseases....but it can also be first class crap too. Make sure that if you do research on the internet that you read things very critically about diseases. When was the page last updated? Who wrote the article -- an actual MD? Is the web page actually an advertisement in disguise? And so on....

...therefore, I suggest your local library. They may have more current online databases, with articles written by respected professionals, available for laymen -- some available at your home computer. (You would probably need to enter your library card number to access. You all have library cards, right? *g*) Please don't ask your librarian to give you medical advice, however!!!

As for the general topic at hand...I feel for each and every one of you who has to take care of an ailing parent. I live 3 hours away from my mom, so I'm the designated "come home once or twice a month to give my brother a break" person.

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My mom's 94 in August, lives alone, and is in amazing health for her age. As I frequently tell her, she dresses herself and feeds herself and gets around the house on her own, and really, what more could one ask? She's been diagnosed as borderline diabetic but no medication prescribed. We try to keep her away from sweets, but it's also hard to get her to eat sometimes, so we do let her have some things she shouldn't.

She has short-term memory issues, which can make life interesting for us all, but she and we function around it pretty well.

She's been complaining of a toothache for about a week, so my sister made her an appt. for Thurs. at the dentist. Today mom called them and demanded an appt. sooner so they got her in at 2. My sister became the designated driver on short notice. Luckily her work is very accommodating and she works just a couple of miles away. She just called--mom doesn't have an abcess as she thought--just bad TMJ. All that was recommended was ibuprofen and heat. Hopefully now that she can stop worrying about having an abcess, she will stop clenching her jaw and that plus treatment will fix it.

Biggest challenges--getting her to eat right and to take a bath. Oh, and dealing with going to visit during these NC summers when she has the heat on in the kitchen still and the house is like a sauna. She's quite comfortable. I'm almost unbearably hot there.

She's miserable--always has been, very depressed, on medication for that. She also used to be very fiery, very Leo, but now is much easier to get along with and kind of childlike. She's very, very grateful for all we do for her.

What bugs me the most--her house is old and needs a lot of work, deep cleaning, plumbing, electric, etc. No one cares but me, so I just try to ignore it. I do basic cleaning, shopping, take her out to eat, play Scrabble with her, and pray she stays as healthy as she is til she dies.

As for the future, we just take it one day at a time. In some ways it might be easier for her to be in a home but she adamantly does not want that. If it were a great place she might get better care day-to-day. An awful place and there's no telling. I think she would probably become fully senile very quickly if she were moved from her familar surroundings now. It's strong daily habits that keep her as "normal" as she is. If only she hadn't lost her eating vegetables and personal hygiene habits -- LOL.

My sister and I each go once a week at least and do the vast majority of the caretaking. My brother was last there to do her taxes. She still loves him best. What can you do?

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What choices do doctors have? Education, medication, and for some things, surgery. Education has to come first - what lifestyle changes can help? are you willing to do them? what are your medication choices? side effects? We're dealing with the human body here; it's complicated, and not everyone reacts the same way. And the doctor may have 10-15 minutes to decide, for you or with you, what's the best balance. So many patients are passive about their own care (and probably many doctors don't want questioning patients either).

I agree geekette. We are at the mercy of the health professionals. So many people just blindly do what the Dr. says and never question anything. We just assume they know more than we do and they know what they are doing. Doctors are only human and make mistakes. They are are not the know all end all to everything and they are not miracle workers. So it is important for the patient to give them as much information about their conditions as they can, and to educate themselves about what is going on with them. There is no such thing as a stupid question and I agree that it is a good idea to write your concerns and questions down and take with you. I usually do, and have always regretted the times I left a DR.'s office when I didn't come prepared, because there is always something I forget to ask.

Your mother is very lucky to have you Couchie. It is obvious you are doing all the right things and you care enough to question. I took care of my mother during the last 2 years of her Alzheimer's Disease. I know first hand how draining care giving can be. Glad to know that you are asking for help when you need it.

lydyjocelyn, when my husband came down with his recent illness, I researched it on the internet to learn about it. It scared the Bejesus out of me. I thought my husband was at death's door. I had to stop. LOL It seemed every worse case scenario would pop up for me complete with graphic pictures. I decided Google was no longer my friend, for that subject. LOL

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OH in the vein of taking care of ourselves (and others) - I have a cheat sheet for the doctors of all my allergies and sensitivities. I have all the conditions I have had in the last few years and all the medication I have taken, what works and what doesn't - makes it a lot easier when You see a doctor. And, if it is printed out, they don't have to struggle to read their handwriting.

Edited by playbiller
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JMH...for your mom that lives alone, does she get any help with any programs. I spend an hour or so today looking at programs for seniors. My mom turned 68 yesterday. Basically she has me, and she has her social security. Tha'ts it. So I just went looking to see what was out there.

One of the things is a great senior center in our city. It has GREAT programs. Hell I want to sign up for some of the stuff. It's a brand new building. They have health and fitness clasess, recreational things, crafts, field trips..and I'm talking fun trips to wineries and casinos etc. I actually found out about this place last year when we were looking for a hall to hold an event. Anyway, I tried to get her interested in the center and all she could tell me is "I don't want to hang around those old people." Good lord. I think the thing I most worry about is her being housebound. She was very active up until this year so I don't want oher to just hole up in the house and talk on the phone. Oh if talking on the phone was an olympic event she'd win handily. heee. Anyway I just printed out their summer schedule and plan to talk with her again.

Does anybody know anything about meals on wheels.

Play - great idea for cheat sheet. We definitely need one as she alwys gets the what are you taking questions. And she's taking a whole lot of stuff every single day. I think I'll work on that this weekend and just have us each keep a copy in our wallets. They have her records right there on the computer but still, they ask.

I really don't want to bother with any of the servies available through social services. We're not that hard up adn I feel other people NEED those services more than she does.

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After my Mom had a stroke and decided she did not want to live with me or have me live with her, I tried hiring some live in part time help - I ended up with Hiring a cleaning woman and a companion for a few hours a day every day and I moved in weekends. She made sure my Mom had lunch and drove her around to shop. The stroke left my Mom with Aphasia - she lost her English, but retained her Polish - the woman I hired spoke fluent Polish so they used to talk up a storm. Before this woman - My Mom was pretty angry all the time afterwards she started enjoying her life, she even signed up for bowling leagues, but had a heart attack just beforethe league was to start.

Here wasw the thing - My mother was being very careful with money - so I lied about how much this help would cost her - I told her she worked for 10 dollars an hour, but it was really 25. I made up the difference and it was totally worth it - heck I was working then, so it was no big deal.

You can look around for a companion among your Mother's friends or neighbors, or look in the paper. I got this woman from the paper, I was relly leery of calling her, but she was such a gift.

Edited by playbiller
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Wow, Play, that sounds great. The thing about my mom though is she has a lot of friends in the area. The woman has a car. She can still cook and clean and garden and do whatever else the heck she wants. There is no reason for her to be housebound. So I'm trying to get her OUT of the house. We chatted last night..went over all 10 pages of the darn senior center schedule and she's interested in the low impact aroebics for heart patients, tai chi, movie day, a some of the field trips. So we're going to go over on Monday so she can see it and sign up for classes.

I don't know what it is with the driving but she won't do it. I found this service that will pick you up and drop you off anywhere in the same city..but I don't think she qualifies for it becuase you're supposed to have a disability, not just have health issues. but I'll get the applicaiton and read the fine print because this would be great for her.

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That's a great idea, play. It might be hard to find someone she'd get along with and won't feel like is intruding on her privacy, but it's worth a try. Maybe I'll see if I can get referrals from her doctor and/or pastor, or local agencies. I know we once got a list somewhere, some years ago, of people looking for jobs like that. I'll see if I can figure out where it came from. My mother's not easy to get along with, but that's probably not uncommon, and i don't think she'll go for it immediately, but maybe she can be talked into it.

JMH...for your mom that lives alone, does she get any help with any programs.
No she doesn't. We've looked into it before, but she hasn't been willing, but as she gets more confused and more child-like, it may be she'll be less resistant. Edited by jmh123
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Well the church also provided volunteers to pick up my mother and take her toservices.

I sat with my Mom interviewing people, one person scared me so much, I insisted on drivng her home even though she was hours away from the house and had taken a train there. I just wanted her gone away.

It does take time to find a personality, but not as long as you might think. I think there are a lot of nice people, it is better if you can get them from a pool of people you know.

The big point in selling them on someone is what it will do for them - My Mother hated that she could not drive and that I had to take her shopping - she wanted someone who had to answer to her. The Polish was a big bonus because my Mom lost a lot of her english - so she had someone she could talk to besides her bedridden sisters! They would eat out in restaraunts some times or cook together other times.

Let me add that before my Mother had her stroke - I started getting worried about her, so I made sure all the neighbor's had my home and work numbers. When my Mother was acting very strange, one neighbor called me right away at work and I asked them to stay with her while I drove ther from work (I did tell you about how I started worrying about her and took a real job and turned down the job in the World trade center 84th floor? I wanted to be withing a 1/2hour of her house.) I ws gladhey did not call 911 because they would have taken her to the wort hospital in the area, I took her to one of the better ones and she did have an excellent recovery, although they would not give her the reversal drug because I could not swear it was within 3 hours, although they no longer require that.

Edited by playbiller
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Thinking about this thread today--couchie's mom at the hospital and being at my mom's today. I read all the posts and thought, wow, really interesting thread. My sister's been in charge of my mother's meds and doctors and so forth, but my mother's basically healthy in every way. She takes Zoloft and something for her thyroid, I think. I thought there was a bone strengthener, but I've only noticed two prescriptions, seems like, lately. Compared to couchie's, my problems seem teeny. I don't live with my mom, she's hardly ever sick, she's part blind and part deaf, but she can see well enough to see the Scrabble board and still beat me sometimes, and she communicates fine one on one. She can walk, feed and dress herself (in a robe), go to the bathroom, and get to bed and out again no problem. She's just really old, and getting senile. She doesn't remember stuff, she gets confused. And she's not taking good care of herself.

Seems like we're constantly watching her these days to see how much longer she can live on her own. This week she's wobbly and in a fog, but usually she snaps out of it. I think her diet has a lot to do with these swings and am advocating for someone to come for a few hours a day as y'all suggested. My sister was against it at first, but she might be rethinking it. My mother keeps asking me to move in, but I just can't live there. Her house is filthy and smelly and gross. It hasn't been deep-cleaned in like forever. Probably 15 years or more. It's old. It's huge. It needs new plumbing, wiring, everything. Everyone else is opposed to doing any major work in the house, including my mom. I wouldn't mind moving myself and my mother into a larger place (no room in my apt), but everyone's opposed to that too. My brother and sister want to hold onto the house even after my mother has to move to a nursing home or dies, and rent it out, and they're not interested in fixing it up ever, even though it's a pit. I spend hours every week cleaning and washing and shopping, and I can just keep up with the basics. My mother is doing less and less for herself. All she wants to eat is mixed nuts and ice cream and she's slovenly and lazy, she won't bathe or brush her teeth, even though she's quite capable of it physically. Her personal hygiene sucks lately, and again, I'm the only one who seems to think this is an issue. (OK, I'm exaggerating for effect, but things are not optimal.) It's hard sorting out when my mother is really not well and when she's crying wolf because she's lonely or needy or whatever or just wants to be waited on because she likes to be waited on. Not that I don't sympathize, but the neediness and so forth is normal for her, even when she was perfectly healthy, and you can't completely cater to it. Nagging worked for awhile, but then it became a battle of wills, so I had to give that up. In a nutshell, I guess my brother and sister think my mother is responsible for herself and she's playing me, and if she won't do this stuff, so what? But I think she should be clean and have clean clothes and a clean bathroom and clean dishes and so on, and if she won't do it, someone should. Until the last few years my mom's always been very competent, regular in her mealtimes and bedtimes and she's always eaten a balanced diet. One of the reasons I came back here is because I could tell she was deteriorating, but I think she needs more than I've been doing for her, or could do for her. I think we need some help with some of the caretaking, like maybe from someone who knows how to encourage personal hygiene and good diet and so forth, a neutral party. My sister's husband's going to be available in a few weeks to start helping out. He's still young and energetic, and he used to do a lot of work around her place, but he's also a bit of a jerk. Hard to say what we can expect from him yet, but I'd be pleased if he decided to tackle some heavy cleaning. My sister's office just moved today, and it'll be even more convenient for her to get to my mother's too. So I guess we'll just keep doing this one day at a time and see what happens.

Meanwhile, I'm coping with hot summer weather pretty well, in my first summer in the south in a decade. I'm getting my car air-conditioner fixed Friday cause down here you've got to have AC in your car. Today it was 96, 97, something like that. Luckily mine kind of works--it's lame, but it helps. Driving back and forth today was hot. My mother's house was hot. But I wasn't too miserable. The kitchen is the hottest room, and also the worst mess for me to clean. She can't be bothered to rinse dishes or even always get to the sink with them. There's mold growing in stuff and the place reeks, so the first thing I always do is clean the kitchen. The grossest place is the basement where I have to do laundry. Really scuzzy.

Something couchie said in the main thread a week? ago about parenting our parents really rang a bell with me. So true. And I've never parented anyone before, so I have zero experience. Here's this woman I've been terrified of most of my life, and now I have to figure out how to get her to behave and do the things she's capable of doing to take care of herself. I have to convince her to care about anything. She's like a sullen teenager headed for 2 year old territory.

Well, that was pretty rambling, but mostly I think I needed to vent. Of course I'll appreciate any ideas and shared experiences.

Edited by jmh123
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jmh, I hope the venting helped. I know that sometimes it helps just to let it go in this way.

I'm really not one to talk, because at this point, my Mom is in a nursing home, and is getting good care. I don't see her as much as I should, and I think my brother (who lives closest to her) resents it.

But....I agree with you that your Mom should be trying to take care of herself better, and if she isn't going to, someone else does. It sounds to me as if your brother and sister are in denial over this, or at least in the "I don't care" stage, and that makes me sad for you. I personally wouldn't want to remember my Mom's last days as her sitting in squalor, etc. Every human, IMO, deserves to be at least comfortable.

It also really concerns me about their feelings for the house. Is there THAT much sentimental attachment to it? I hope they realize that renting it without fixing it up is going to not serve the family well. I'm going to guess that it's a case of "we don't have the money NOW," but the long term issues would really suggest to me that they need to start working on repairing and replacing things now. Just pick one, and start with that -- the roof? The furnace? Etc. In the end, I think the return will be better.

OK, I know that wasn't much help...so I'm just here to {{{{{{{{{{{{{{jmh}}}}}}}}}}}.

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The house--no, it's a case of not caring. My sister just doesn't care about cleanliness, repairs, and the like, and my brother, well, it amounts to not caring, at least enough to do anything.

I think part of the problem is that they've been around all along, while I was living somewhere else for a long time, so things just strike me more acutely than them. And when my mother was responsible, she wouldn't choose to do anything about anything either, so that's the way it's always been. My dad did everything himself, repaired appliances, roof, everything, and he's been gone 15 years. I think he might've done a lot more cleaning that I realized too, given how bad it got after he died. My mother just got feeble in the last few years, and right after my father died she had the upstairs repainted and fixed up, but hasn't done anything since. So there is money to do stuff, but I'm the only one who would like to see money spent to fix up the house. Also, having workmen in the house disturbs and disorients my mother now. When things get to the stage of having to be done, like when there was a leak and the ceiling fell in the kitchen and her bathroom, she really didn't like having the workmen there and complained about it endlessly.

I don't get the attachment to a house coupled with the lack of desire to fix things up, myself. I only lived in the house for about six months as a kid, before I went off to college. Both my brother and sister lived there years longer. But still--I don't get it. They think it's an investment. They want to keep the house and rent all the rooms to college students, as it's two blocks from NC State. About half the old houses on the street are rented to students. I've already made it clear than they're on their own with that. My mother's had a tenant from time to time, upstairs, for a long time. She has two right now, but they don't pay her and they don't do shit, so I really don't get it. One just stays there one night a week or so, and sometimes has out-of-town guests stay there, and she thinks he hangs the moon. The other is a former tenant who talked his way back in for the summer and has been a pain in the rear. I'd like to take a bulldozer to the whole place, myself. The land is valuable, but the house, not so much. IMO.

So yeah, if things don't improve, I'm going to have to put my foot down, but I'll wait and see if my brother-in-law's involvement makes a difference. I was talking to my sister today and she wanted to know if I'd told mama's yard guy to stop coming (???) and I said, you know, what is really needed is work on the inside of the house. She already has somebody to do the yard. If my brother-in-law is just going to take over the yard work, then whoopee. Grrrrrr.

More venting. :scream:

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jmh123, your post reminds me of how things were before we finally convinced the rest of the family that my grandmother needed to be moved out of her home. By "we" I mean the adult grandchildren who gave a shit. The ones hardest to convince were our parents, her children, who were in their 60s and 70s. They just couldn't accept that maybe things had gotten to the point where action needed to be taken. My grandmother didn't have any real physical problems, but she had her up and down days, for sure. Some days she was clear as a bell, and others, she was foggy. She was in the early stages of dementia. A couple of times, she went out to get the paper and got lost coming back. She wasn't always sure if she'd eaten or if she'd taken her medications. For a couple of years, we compromised by having Meals on Wheels delivered 5 times a week, so that she would eat a healthy, balanced diet and not have to cook (which could mean that either the stove got left on or that the food might be out of the fridge longer than it should be). We also got her some assistance with light house keeping and bathing, through a community care service once a week. That took some of the burden off of my Mom, who was the only "child" left within a reasonable driving distance. But the biggest problem was concern that she would either forget her medication, or overdose by taking it more often than necessary.

Eventually we convinced the family that the house was just too much, and we moved her into a senior's apartment (which was really a compromise - some of us thought it would be better to go straight into a retirement home, but my grandmother was not happy with that because she still was able to care for herself to a degree). She lasted a year there, but my Mom was still running back and forth daily to help her with cleaning and cooking, etc. So then we moved her into a retirement home which is where she lived until she died in her sleep a few years later. Looking back, I think we'd all agree that selling the house and moving her into the retirement home immediately would have been the best thing for everyone involved. She ate better, she attended exercise classes, she made friends, she was always clean and well cared for.

Anyways....I totally get your frustration over the rest of the family wanting to hang onto the house for 'sentimental' reasons. Sounds like it probably needs to be gutted in order to be considered an 'investment'. Either that or it's going to have to eventually be sold at less than market value, and then the new owners will probably gut it anyways. As for rental value, I'd think you'd be able to make a lot more off of it if it was cleaned up and repaired. So yeah, sounds like they've all become complacent, and you need to put your foot down.

Edited by luckiest1
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Hee, while I'm here, I thought maybe I could do some venting of my own.

My Mom recently had two cancer surgeries - last August she had part of her bowel removed, and then a couple of months later, they found a spot on her lung, and immediately put her back into the hospital to remove 40% of her lung. It was a rough few months, but we got through it. She's done miraculously well since then, and is pretty much back to her old self now, driving here and there, participating in a choir and social events, and splitting her time between her house in the city and her condo in the country. However, I see the early signs of dementia creeping in. It seems to run in the family (since both my grandmother and great-grandmother suffered from it). Some days she is eerily like my grandmother in that she doesn't remember having told you something the day before. And she is writing everything down now and there are little notes all over the place in case she forgets something. But nothing too serious right now. She is still worried sick over the cancer scare, and every time she has another follow up appointment with the family doctor or one of the surgeons, she panics. Tomorrow she has another colonoscopy scheduled, and she's terrified again.

Anyways, there are only two 'kids' - me and my brother, who lives in Taiwan. He came home for a few years around 2002 but left again in December 2005 and no amount of convincing could get him to fly home during Mom's surgeries, even though I really thought he should. He is married, his wife is Taiwanese, and they have an 8 year old daughter that none of us has ever met. I've tried unsuccessfully to convince him that it would be a great idea if he brought his wife and daughter over for a visit, since Mom isn't getting any younger. I should probably add here, my brother is an ass. He and I do not get along well, never have, never will. Apparently he is having some difficulties over there right now with his business and his marriage and some substance abuse....I get emails and phone calls from his wife, and lately she's been asking me to inform my Mom about what's going on, because she's at her wit's end and is hoping that some intervention from home might turn my brother around. Unfortunately, Mom doesn't want to discuss this stuff....she keeps saying "my doctors don't want me to have any stress". So I'm kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place, trying to comfort and support my SIL but trying to explain that Mom just can't handle any bad news right now. Soooo...I'm frustrated trying to be the middle man. No point to my post, really, other than to vent. I doubt anyone's had a similar situation but if so, any advice would be welcome!

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{{{luckiest1}}} - yeeecchh what a mess! My brother's useless, but he lives 5 miles from me and 30 miles from her (he's been there twice this year, maybe 3 times), and doesn't have personal issues to add to the problems. So sorry about your mom's starting to show those signs--I hope she can keep it together a long time. While you can express sympathy to your sister-in-law, I think that's really all you can do. Neither you nor your mother can "fix" your brother and shouldn't have to try--that's the sad truth.

It's helpful just to know that we're not alone in dealing with these caregiver issues. :RedGuy:

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