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Caring For an Aging Parent

Many people are lucky enough to get the chance to care for their aging parents. Being able to give back to those who once cared for us can be a great honor. But, with that honor can come many difficulties. This is a guide about caring for an aging parent.
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Solutions

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By 13 found this helpful
September 2, 2011

Wherever your parent is living, prominently display framed photographs of him or her in younger days. Exhibit the parent looking glamorous, receiving professional recognition and achieving success in sporting events. Let mom or dad be seen at their youthful best.

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Your parent will be attended by carer givers, nursing staff, and cleaners, at home, in hospitals, and in nursing homes. Help these people to see your parent as an accomplished individual who just happens to be older, not just another elderly person. The photographs may also provide people with a starting point for conversation.

Source: Derek Longden, a popular UK author, described using this technique when his mother was older and went into hospital.

By Julia from UK

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September 1, 2011

I do not regret one moment of moving my mom in with me and having her last few years with me. I agree some times were very hard dealing with her Alzheimer's disease, however, family and friends can give you the breaks you need. There are also many home care/assistance companies out there to help. Remember, you need to take care of yourself to be there for them. They gave years of time for you, you can make time for them. You never get a second chance.
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By Susan from Scottsville, VA

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By 7 found this helpful
September 2, 2011

I took care of my mother until she passed on and now I have the privilege of helping my father which includes taking him to a lot of appointments. The things that I always keep with me in the car are Kleenex, baby wipes, a large bath towel, a small pillow, change of clothes for both of us, a couple bottles of water, and a daily diary appointment style book! I have found that these items have come in handy more times than I can count and are well worth the space in my car!

My parents were always of the mindset to be prepared and it rubbed off on me, I suppose. They always took such good care of us growing up, so for me it was a no-brainer to take care of them.

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The experience has been a blessing and a walk on the path of learning to be humble and to always have patience. I have no regrets for walking down this road and never will!

By mauifran from HI

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By 4 found this helpful
September 13, 2011

My mother lives in our home and has several health issues. She continues to be pretty independent. But on days when she may be less independent, I ask friends or relatives to call and chat with her. This helps her feel valuable. At the same time it allows others to check on her status several times a day, while I am at work.

I also keep the back door unlocked so if there may be a problem, it is easy to physically check on her while I am gone.

By Susan from Elkhart, IN

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 1 found this helpful
September 2, 2010

Anyone out there taking care of an elderly parent? My mom lives an hour away from me. I spend 4-5 days a week staying at her home taking care of her, the house, the yard, etc. She is 87 and in poor health. She seems to have the beginnings of dementia and her legs are swollen from edema. Her diet is horrible. Well, she will eat what I make, but only drinks coffee.

My sister comes when she can, but she lives 2 and 1/2 hours away and works, too. I was the one that was always here, then when my dad passed away 7 years ago I started staying with her every other week for 3 days or so. I was here to shop, eat out, and talk.

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She started with slight incontinence about 4 years ago and hasn't been out since. She will not see a doctor. She hasn't since I was a teen and I am now 58. She can barely stand and walking is getting harder and harder for her. She'll use a cane, but not the walker I got her. I can't remember the last time she showered. I got a shower chair, but still no shower. She barely even washes up anymore. I am at my wits end.

She spends most of the day and night in a chair. Getting her into bed, to get her off her buttocks, is a constant struggle. She falls asleep and tips out of the chair. She sometimes falls when walking. God is on her side because she hasn't broken anything yet.

If anyone has had similar experiences, please write. I feel so alone. My poor husband is getting upset. He just can't understand why I can't just tell her she has to move in with us. She will not accept outside help. If I could get her to accept an aide once in awhile, it would help so much. Please contact me through Thriftyfun. You can click on my name and an email message window will open.

I have found a few message boards, but everyone there seems to think they are doctors with the advice they give. Or just plain mean. She's my mother, I still must treat her like my mother and not some child off the street. I love her, but I am so stressed out. I have my own health problems, too. Please help if you can. Regards.

By Valery from Cranford, NJ

Answers

April 21, 20090 found this helpful

Check and see if there is a Senior Center in your area. If so, take him and leave him there while you do something for yourself. Barring that, see if you can get somebody to relieve you every now and then - maybe, a church member or a neighbor. Having taken care of my Mother prior to her having to go into a nursing home (Alzheimer's), I know exactly where you're coming from! God bless you for taking care of your father, but do remember to take care of yourself, also!

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November 14, 2008

What are some things I can do to help my elderly patents? I have rearranged their kitchen to make it easier. I take them to all their appointments. Does anyone have any other helpful ideas? Thanks.

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November 14, 20080 found this helpful

All you can do is offer your assistance and be there for them. I'm sure you are already doing that for them and they appreciate you for that. I know when my father-in-law comes home from a hospital stay they've always said to be sure to remove rugs. It may prevent them from falling. Install handles around the tubs and where there are steps. Help with meals. Everything counts, even the small things.

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By 0 found this helpful
November 5, 2008

This is a random question for this website, but I'm starting to get a bit desperate. My elderly mother has had her license revoked, but refuses to stop driving. (She's prone to strokes, disorientation, has severe mobility problems, and horrible reflexes). We'd take her car away, but she lives alone and not having a car there would make the house look abandoned. She refuses to move to assisted living.

We also need to be able to use the car when either of my siblings or I come to check in on her (she's more comfortable getting in and out of her car than ours). We've tried taking the keys, and she had the dealership come out to make copies. We've tried disconnecting the battery, and she called AAA. She lies to anyone who is willing to help her get the car running.

We're afraid she's going to kill someone, or herself. In short, we need to disable the car for her but not for us. Has anyone else had this kind of problem, and how on earth did you work with it? Thanks for any advice.

Beth

Answers

November 5, 20080 found this helpful

Hi there. I really feel for you. I heard a story from a guy who has a towing company that there was a disabled car he needed to tow and when he got there he found a car with no back wheels and when he asked the family what happened he was told that they removed the wheels and left the car on blocks but that their mom decided to drive anyway so she drove the car off the blocks and drove the car to go where she wanted. Kinda funny. They are so used to their lives that sometimes they can't be stopped. Would it be an option to have someone stay with her when you and your family cannot be there or contact the dealer and AAA to let them know NOT to fix the car?

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 5, 20080 found this helpful

My father was like that, we hid keys which he found, so the neighbor just simply took the distributor cap, it won't start. You could just remove the battery as well. Good Luck. As we get older, its hard to give up what we are use to, our freedom. Myself I plan on quit driving at 70.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 9, 2008

I could use some advice as I don't know where to start. My parents are aging and live in a different state. My mother has cancer and my father is showing signs of dementia (and is extremely difficult). I'm in contact with my mother frequently, but she refuses to admit she needs help. When I go to visit them I wind up in tears on the flight home because I feel so helpless. Can anyone recommend a website or reference book to help with aging parents?

I know this is becoming an issue for many other baby boomers. I've approached the conversation about finances and their wishes, but I get yes and no answers for a variety of reasons. Their not eating well, the house is dirty, I'm not sure my mother is bathing herself.. my father forgets what he did 5 minutes ago.. and the list goes on. Anyone who has suggestions or ideas. My family would really appreciate some guidance. Thank you.

Maggie from VA

Answers

April 9, 20080 found this helpful

You could try to find a community based home health agency in their area, maybe start with the local Health Department, or a local hospital, they should be able to quide you, there are often various programs for seniors that need help staying in their own homes.

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April 9, 20080 found this helpful

It appears that your parents need 24 hour care/supervision.
I would advise you to check the cost for nursing home care against inhome care. Either way it is going to be expensive. Don't ever turn their house or valuables over to a nursing home. Appoint someone in the family to be the executor of their estate and pay monthly for their care if you choose this method.

If you decide to try the inhome care, the Senior Citizens Center has Meals on Wheels in our town which provides one healthy meal a day and nursing homes usually have an inhome assistant to help with bathing, light household chores and there are some restrictions as to what they can do to help your parents stay in their home. They also work a few hours in the day, so many times a week.

You would need to hire several people to do inhome care if you have them stay 24-7 to give time off and decide if you pay them part time, then step up the amount of people you hire.

You could also hire a responsible person (check their credentials well) to live in their home and provide the help your parents need. Working through an agency if someone cannot make it that day to your parents home, there's usually a replacement for them, so they still get the care they need and you want for them.

Since your mother has cancer, have you spoke with anyone from the hospice program or the hospital? They could direct you toward right places to get further suggestions.

If you are not able to care for your parents yourself which helps to save some larger expenses, perhaps you and your family members could divide time in the year equally to keep your parents together and have them move in with you or you go there for when your time comes around.
Your parents would feel safer having family members do the care more than strangers in their home. This is a lot of adjusting.

This is a very hard time for you and I really feel for all your concerns. I've had elderly friends and worked in a nursing home setting a lot of years and I know what you are up against. It's hard to let go of home and having things the way they always were. My best to you.

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April 9, 20080 found this helpful

Another idea is to find someone to live with them rent free in exchange for some care. Is there a nursing program near you? a student nurse would be a good choice. She would be there at night, when dementia often peaks. Check with meals on wheels and also te local division of aging, or a social worker from the nearest hospital.

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April 9, 20080 found this helpful

Hi Maggie,
I work in Home health and believe it could benefit your parents greatly. Many times the reason that people are reluctant to accept help is because they think that someone will come into their home and find out that they can't take care of themselves and they will be placed in the nursing home. It is a valid concern. But if your parents are homebound or even just one of them, Home health services would be paid for under their medicare benefit.

HH can provide an aid for bathing, nurses for med mgt and teaching, therapy if they need it. Also if they qualify for the medicare waiver program it pays for respite care, sitters, housecleaning and even some shopping. If either of your parents are Vets they will qualify for even more benefits.

What you need to do is research HH's in their area and then call them they can tell you about all their services. After that call their MD and discuss it with him or her. If your mother has terminal cancer she may be eligible for hospice services.

The goal of all these programs is to keep people in their homes as long as possible. I think that if you explain it to your mother in that way she will come around. Make sure that you and your HH are all on the same page so that communication stays open.

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April 11, 20080 found this helpful

A warning about getting help for your parents around the home. Do your absolute best to find someone you can TRUST to come into their home. I had a friend who's mother made a living as a live-in caregiver to the elderly & I heard through her daughter (I didn't know her mom) that her mother, this live-in "helper" was sometimes stealing money from the very people she was watching, especially the ones who were forgetful & would leave money laying around & forgot where it was.

She was no teenager, but in her 50's or 60's & also called herself a Christian, but when they turned their backs she was stealing money (& who knows what else!). A sad, sad thing. I'm not trying to scare you, I just felt the need to at least warn you. This may be more prevalent than we like to think. Maybe a secret video camera hooked to the Internet so you could do some checking up on the person caring for them? I hate to go a "Big Brother" on you, but if it were my mom, I may just do something like that. At least make sure the caregiver is licensed & bonded.

* To find a good caregiver I'd first call the wonderful volunteers at HOSPICE as they are hooked in to a group of wonderful organizations that may be of help in finding someone to help bath & feed your parents & make sure they get to doctors visits.

* An idea, that may or may not work for you, if you need extra money to care for your parents & their home is paid for you can probably get a reverse mortgage on the home (if you still want to keep it for them while they are living). Some "reverse mortgage" places are on the up & up & some are rip-offs & charge fees & interests that are way to high, so DO YOUR HOMEWORK if you choose this option.

* Sadly, you may need to get a legal "Power of Attorney" so you can take care of your parents bills. Make sure to talk it over with other family members first. If not an actual financial Power of attorney, you might need a MEDICAL power of Attorney.

If you mother is in her right mind & WANTS to sign a a Medical Power of Attorney, stating who will make medical decisions for her when she can't, here's a FREE MEDICAL POWER of ATTORNEY link. Just print it out, & have her sign it then take her to a bank so you can have it notarized. I don't know if your dad's signature would be legal since he seems to not be able to make proper choices these days.

FREE MEDICAL POWER of ATTORNEY FORM:
http://www.expe  of_attorney.html

You may need an attorney to handle these things for you, but another warning: I had a client (I was painting a mural at her house) & she was looking for a lawyer to write her will for her. When she called her regular lawyer they wanted $750 to write up a simple will, so I told her about a good lawyer I knew that ran a small office with his wife as his assistant & guess what she DID have my lawyer write her will & it only cost her $75. a BIG savings! So do some calling around & there's a BIG difference in what each lawyer charges, & don't go for the one with the biggest add in the yellow pages! Hope I've helped, more than frightened you.

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 11, 20080 found this helpful

Believe it or not there is a dummies book on elder care. You can also try googling your parents state department of aging and talking with them. These people should be able to give you good advice. Also remember, if whether using a nursing home or home care always, always check out the facility or the agencies you are working with. The state dept of aging can help with that also. Elder abuse is rampant in the u.S. So err to the side of caution when choosing. I know it sounds tough.

I worked for a nursing home for 20 years but when your parents come to the point where they need help its up to you. Just make sure caution is your watch word. The department of aging can help when you either find a facility or a caregiver. That's part of their job. When you do finds something always make sure you keep in contact with the agency or the nursing facility. Let them know you want to be involved closely with the care your parents are getting.

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 11, 20080 found this helpful

Contact the local area agecny on Aging where your parents live. They should be able to help you, or at least provide direction. I work for a PA AAA & do this all the time.

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April 11, 20080 found this helpful

I work for our local Area Agency on Aging, so of course this question popped out at me. Every state must have Area Agency on Aging according to the Older American's Act. Search the net for contact information in your parent's home state. Contact the most local office for assistance & guidance. Nursing home placement is not always the best option - more & more alternatives for home care are being introduced. Your parent's situation is a risky one & I know it's hard to live so far away. Any other family members near them to keep an eye on them while you make arrangements? Or were they involved in a church that can provide temporary help? One thing you don't want to do is allow the risk to get so bad that adult protective services become involved. Good luck. I am located in south central PA if I can be of any help.

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 11, 20080 found this helpful

I read an article recently from hospice publication about how they helped a lady with her aged mother. The lady was not admitted to hospice and now lives alone but hospice helped her daughter find the right help.

Perhaps they can help you or point you in the right direction...Blessings

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April 11, 20080 found this helpful

One place to ask about services for your parents is their local senior center. I work for a company as a homemaker for the elderly, and I asked a client of mine where he heard about our company and he said his kids (also from another state) were here visiting and they asked the senior center if they knew of anyone in the area that did this kind of thing, and Thank the Lord, they knew about the company I work for.

I am the only one he wants to come to help him with his house and take him to get groceries, etc. Most companies, legitimate ones anyway, will do background checks on their employees and have them go thru training before placing them with clients. We also help with bathing, if needed, housework, preparing meals if needed, taking them on errands (shopping, dr appts, hairdresser, etc). We are not allowed to touch meds, but u could see if there is a friend or neighbor to help set them up. I do remind my clients to take their meds if they take after I leave, or remind them to take them while there. (did that make any sense?!).

Sorry this is long, but you are getting a lot of good advice. I know it is hard when you don't live near your parents, but with a little bit of checking, you can find someone that you can trust to take care of and look after your parents. Good Luck!

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April 11, 20080 found this helpful

I just went through this with my Dad. It got to the point where my Mom just couldn't take care of him anymore. By the time she really needed help, it was almost impossible to find as almost every place we contacted had waiting lists. Finally, he had what he thought was a heart attack (it wasn't) one night and we took him to ER. He spent a few days in the hospital and the medical personnel realized that due to their ages, it was more than my Mom could handle. The hospital placed Dad in a nursing home for "rehabilitation."

Again, it is very wise to check these out ahead of time before you actually need them. The best nursing homes are expensive, but most will take Medicare or Medicaid - and will help the loved one apply for either.

The same with Assisted Living. Go check out the places before you move your parents into one of these places as they are all different.

I also learned that there are differences in homes. There are retirement homes, assisted living homes (where nursing staff are on call 24 hours a day to help with giving medication, etc.), nursing homes, and then skilled-care nursing homes. Check with your parents' doctor or doctors and see which he or she recommends.

If you do hire an agency to come in, check their references also. My grandparents had girls come in from an agency and they "stole them blind." If you stay with "name" agencies like Oxford or Integrity, you should be okay.

Check with their doctors, they are generally very willing to work with you. Good luck and God bless.

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April 11, 20080 found this helpful

First let me say I am sorry this is happening, but know that there are resources that can help you. Every state has a adult protective service agency, there you can start to get the help you will need. You will have to call and start a case, they will evaluate your parents and start the services that they will need to keep them independent in the home. If you don't want them in the home, they can help you with the placing for a nursing home, or assisted living home. It will be very trying on you, but you need to cut yourself a break and realize that this is a hard thing to do. It is twice as hard when you have to do it from another state. Your state and theirs also should have a dept. on aging that can give you some insight. Best of luck to you.

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 11, 20080 found this helpful

You are certainly not alone in your problem. Everybody on here has great suggestions. I went thru the same thing with my mom & her husband. They BOTH had dementia and were in Idaho while I was in Nevada. Use their community and state resources. Just go thru the phone book for their area or start asking questions. You did the right thing by posting on here - you'll reach a lot of people. God bless you - I know it's difficult. Just take one thing at a time.

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 11, 20080 found this helpful

There are lots of good sites with info you might be interested in too....

Caring for the Elderly - Understanding the Need
http://www.alla  -the-elderly.htm

How to Help Your Aging Parents: Deciding when to Step In
http://www.asso  ts_deciding.html

Aging parents: 5 warning signs of health problems http://www.mayo  -parents/HA00082

Children of Aging Parents http://www.caps4caregivers.org/

AGING and AGING PARENTS http://www.self  ging/index.shtml

Tips to Help You Care for Aging Parents http://www.nsc.  alls/faltips.htm

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) http://www.aarp.org/

American Association of Homes for the Aging http://www.aahsa.org/

Family Caregiver Alliance http://www.caregiver.org/

National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
http://www.caremanager.org/

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April 12, 20080 found this helpful

If they are in a church, then tell the pastor. Call their doctor and tell him/her.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 9, 20080 found this helpful

Find a "HOME INSTEAD" service/program/business (the company is nation wide) in the area that your parents live in.

They can do what ever you need done (bathing , cooking, shopping, cleaning etc) - whether it be hourly, daily or weekly ALSO they are bonded so there is no need to worry about stealing from their workers.

The reason I know this IS THAT THEY HAVE COME AND HELPED ME WHEN I BROKE MY FOOT a few years ago...I was very pleased with them.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 17, 2016

My father had me at a rather old age and has recently been showing strong signs of dementia. I know it's been very difficult for my mother as she is his only caretaker and I live far away. I have asked her sisters in Japan to take her in for a bit to help her reset, so I'm now taking care of him, and plan to live in both cities when Mum returns. Does anyone know of any good resources for help that don't cost a lot, or are maybe even free? Are there any good websites to help him engage in games to help his memory? I know my questions are a bit vague, but this is a new thing for me. I feel like I always have an answer for everything, but this is a new world! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 13, 2010

My mother has brain cancer and the doctors removed the first tumor which damaged her short term memory, eyesight, and her brain does not acknowledge the right side of her body. She used to make doilies, but gets confused. All she does now is sit and smoke. Books do not work because she forgets what she just read. Mom is only 64 and has always been active. How can I help her? She gets tired quickly.

By Theresa from Daingerfield. TX

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By 0 found this helpful
August 1, 2010

Two of three sisters were given power of attorney for their mother. Now the mother wants to see documentation of her money, bills, and bank statements presented in a simple way so she can understand what she has left and how it is being saved and managed.

It is OK for the 3rd sister to see if the mother wants her to be there. Is this a question the parent can ask along the way and a presentation should be provided to anyone in the meetings? She would like the 3rd daughter to also be aware of what is left since she does the most for her now and has no idea of what her own mother has to spend.

By Ginny from Oak Park, CA

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September 2, 20100 found this helpful

I am a caregiver for my dad who is ninety. He is in good health, but needs help with a lot of things. Sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed with things. Any hints or suggestions?

By Lynda (crabby) from Kearny

Answers:

Caring for an Aging Parent

My husband fell and broke his back 4 years ago. He is now paralyzed from the waist down. He is 57. I was so overwhelmed, but you learn as you go. Keep supplies together in a handy place. Get "your" rest and always keep in the back of your mind, if this were happening to you, would you have someone to help you in your time of need?
P.S. You are a good person at heart if you put someone's needs ahead of your own. (04/16/2009)

By vguy

Caring for an Aging Parent

Check and see if there is a senior center in your area. If so, take him and leave him there while you do something for yourself. Barring that, see if you can get somebody to relieve you every now and then, maybe, a church member or a neighbor. Having taken care of my mother prior to her having to go into a nursing home (Alzheimer's), I know exactly where you're coming from! God bless you for taking care of your father, but do remember to take care of yourself, also! (04/21/2009)

By tedsmom

Caring for an Aging Parent

You are a tremendous person for taking on this difficult and rewarding task. My grandmothers still live alone, but my mother takes them to appointments. She stresses organization and a constant schedule as being very helpful in maintaining their health care and homes. Since we all live in the same town, she schedules their checkups together. Having social activities like Bible study, church activities, coffee at the local diner and sports activities at the school give us plenty for free entertainment. (04/21/2009)

By Mama2one

Caring for an Aging Parent

Here in Canada, our health care system has "home care workers" who come to your home to help you. They bathe the patient, tidy their living space, prepare meals, and provide respite services, so the main caregiver can go out for a while. Check with your doctor to see if you have this service available in your area. It's free here. (04/21/2009)

By catastrofy

Caring for an Aging Parent

As with one of the first feedback posts, I had access to monthly nurse's visits, a home helper who bathed her twice a week, and Meals on Wheels during the week. I became disabled myself at the time, so these outreach sources were a wonderful blessing. Contact your dad's doctor, your local social services office, check with anyone else you know who is going through this same thing.

All these sources should give you the access you need. Medicare pays for it all, so don't worry about the expense. Here in Michigan, we have "211" service (It's like 911, but for health and human services). It connects you to the right people. Check your phone book for information.

One thing I must add. There were certainly times when during my caring for her that I wanted to run away to Brazil or something, but after she was gone, just weeks after my husband's death, there is only one thing I wished for. To hear her call my name one last time because she needed help.

She suffered from dementia and was very confused all the time. She'd had many strokes which had robbed her of her ability to read, which ruled out her old love of the library, and even kept her from understanding television programs because she couldn't read the subtitles. She died on her 86th birthday on May 18, 2001, which was actually a wonderful thing. I got to "celebrate" her birthday here, and then she got to "celebrate" with my dad on the other side later that day. Just keep your spirits up. Sounds easy, I know, but we both know it isn't.

Cherish this opportunity to be as good to your father as he was to you as you grew. It will make the ultimate loss easier to bear, knowing you did all you could. May God bless you as you continue to care for your father. (04/21/2009)

By pollylev

Caring for an Aging Parent

Call your Area Agency on Aging, they have many helping services you may apply for. Also take care of you. As your health and mental health is important in caring for your dad. Accept any help you may be offered, especially "time" for yourself to get out and do something fun. It can be very stressful, but when he passes you will miss him terribly, so be sure to do for yourself while you are caring for him. (05/01/2009)

By Jcerar

Caring for an Aging Parent

The main thing I think (I do live-in elder care 4 days per week) is to have a schedule and try to stick to it no matter what happens. Seek all possible outside help and while there probably aren't too many of his friends still around or mobile there is bound to be some neighbor/friend/relative who could sit with him and talk about "old times" and things familiar while you take a well earned break. Every time I feel like "running away and joining the circus" I think about both my parents, now long gone, and try to do to my "patient" as I would want someone to do for my parents. God bless and good luck. (06/22/2009)

By AnnmacC

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