Parenting the Parents

It's been a stressful, double-whammy of a week. My dad had to be taken to the emergency room on Wednesday because he couldn't stop vomiting. This turned into a day-long ordeal of tests and sitting around waiting for doctors to make their prognosis. They couldn't find anything wrong with him, so he was sent home with the economy size bottle of anti-nausea pills. The next day, he found out that during his dialysis treatment they had started giving him a new injection to combat his slight case of anemia. That was the culprit and he's feeling better.

On Friday, my mother was diagnosed with macular degeneration. She begins treatment this week of monthly injections directly into the eyeball to, hopefully, to stabilize and counteract some of the vision loss that is already occurring. To say she's upset about it would be the understatement of the century. Mom is very independent and the idea of anything slowing her down has been a tough pill to swallow.

At my urging, my parents are also starting to discuss moving into an assisted living community. They aren't keen on the idea, but who would be? However, since I live nearly an hour away from them – and the drive from downtown Atlanta seems to get longer and longer  – they are eventually going to need more care. Both my parents are in a bit of denial about their age and declining health, so I have a feeling this is going to be an ongoing conversation.

Giving them advice at this point – no matter how well-intentioned – is unwelcome (my mother told me more than once to "shut up about it"), because they aren't ready to accept the inevitable. It's frustrating, sad, nerve-wracking, etc. Anyone else dealing with aging parents? Your advice is needed and welcome.


stacebro said…
Hey, CK.
It's like you've been hanging out in my reality. My father, who had a massive stroke 3 years ago, fell on Tuesday and was in Northside Hospital for three days while they tried to find the source of his dizziness. My mother, who is 75, is his caregiver, and she's almost in worse shape than he is. I'm here until Saturday. Wanna have lunch and talk about it? xoxox
Jennifer Perry said…
Assisted living homes are so much better than they once were, my band has played at several. I'll be happy to help gather info, and sounds like stacebro has good advice and info for you.
My thoughts are with you too, stacebro.
Karen J. Weyant said…
I'm so sorry to hear about your parents, Collin. My mother was so stubborn about her declining health that it eventually killed her. Okay, not a cheerful thought and not what you want to hear. However, it did teach my dad to take better care of himself and be realistic about his health needs. He is 85 and still living on his own.

Do your parents have brothers and sisters to talk to about this situation? Talking to siblings may help a bit (parents do not want advice from their own children). Also, any chance that your parents would welcome Lifeline -- an emergency alert system? We had to talk my father into using it, but now he likes it and it makes him feel independent.

The hardest thing about growing old? Losing all those around you. My dad has one sister left. He is a veteran of World War II -- and most of his "war buddies" are gone. The second thing about growing old? Losing your independence.

Good luck with your parents. Thinking of you --

Chelle Cordero said…
Hi Collin,

My parents are long gone so I cannot speak from personal experience. But I am speaking with the experience of a journalist who has done a lot of research into assisted living.

There are many wonderful places, please research those your folks might consider in your area. Do be sure to stay close to them and visit with them at varying times (best way to personally be sure it's on the up&up.

Sending you hugs, getting your folks to accept the transition won't be easy (saw my cousins go through this with my uncle) but it is a terrific option and will bring them comfort, care and you peace of mind.
Two things I learned: 1. when shopping around for an assisted living facility, rehab center or skilled nursing place, never make an appointment - just be a walk in. See how they are when nobody's looking. 2. Never, ever check someone you love into a care facility (whether it's for a few days, a few months or a permanent switch) on a Friday. The weekends are always the hardest - different (and usually fewer) staff, patterns, etc. And by Friday, the regular folks are thinking about their own weekends, not your loved one. It just makes the transition a million times harder. Tuesday morning is the best day, if you can plan for that. Also, a step before assisted living, just in case ya'll haven't looked into it, might be Home Health Care, depending on their insurance. Most insurance plans cover X number of visits in a calendar year, if you can get it certified. Not quite live-in care, but health care pros come by the house.
Collin Kelley said…
Thanks, y'all.

Stacey, I sent you en email via Facebook about meeting up this week.

Karen, my father has brothers & sisters, all older and in ill health, too. I only have one grandparent still living and my uncle (mom's brother) died in 1994. I think they are starting to realize some big changes are going to have to be made if they are going to keep any independence at all.
Reb said…
Collin, perhaps speaking to a "life care consultant" might be a good step to take. It's possible (although clearly I couldn't tell you) that your parents might not have to move into an assisted living home just yet --there are more options these days, daily home visits by medical professionals (which might be less expensive than assisted living and make your parents happier, give them a better quality of life. I'll be thinking of you -- I know this is difficult and stressful.

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