Taking care of elderly parents....

  1. Just wondering how many others on the boards are in the "sandwich" generation? You know the generation that is taking care of both children at home and helping with elderly parents? My FIL is 83 years old and recently widowed. He manages to get around pretty well and still lives in his own home. He is still able to drive. He is very alert and oriented. Since my MIL died in the spring, my husband has been managing his Dad's checkbook and we take care of making sure he has his prescriptions. (The only reason my husband manages the check book is because my FIL's handwriting is not good and he doesn't think anyone could read his handwriting if he was making out the checks. ). Even though helping my FIL takes up some time, it really isn't a burden. My husband and I have even discussed the possibility of his Dad moving in with us at some point if he gets worried about being at home by himself. He has a history of CHF and we had to take him into the ER today because he was having some difficulty breathing. On way up to the hospital, my FIL proceeds to tell me and my husband that he had a rough night and had considered calling EMS or us to come and get him. He was scared. Anyway, I was wondering how many of you have an elderly parent or in-law that is living with you? How does it work out? Any suggestions or ideas on how to make it a win-win situation for everyone. We are not going to suggest that he come live with us or force him out of his home. We just want him to be aware that he is welcome here if he does not want to be by himself, or is uncomfortable by himself. We are just thinking
    about the future. I would like to hear from other people who have been in this situation. Thanks.
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    Joined: Aug '01; Posts: 2,276; Likes: 42


  3. by   whipping girl in 07
    Sounds like you're FIL is in good hands. My parents haven't started needing any care yet (Dad will be 60 in a couple of weeks, Mom is two years younger than him) and they are very cognizant of trying to take care of themselves, eating very healthy, exercising, etc. I hope it's a long time before they ever get sick (although next year, my mom will be the same age as her mom was when she died from a massive CVA).

    I remember when I was a little girl, my great-grandma got passed between my grandma (the one who died from the CVA) and my great-aunt. It was so hard on both of them, especially my grandma, because they were trying to keep her out of the nursing home. Eventually she just got to be too much, and they had to put her in a nursing home. My grandma died not too long after that. I guess those years of caring for her MIL (she was the only dau/dau-in-law who didn't work outside the home) took their toll on her health. I guess what I'm getting at is if he does move in (eventually) and he deteriorates, you have to know when you just can't do it anymore, and get help (whether someone to come in the home or a nursing home) before it hurts your health too. I've heard patients say "My dau is a nurse, so I know she'll always be able to take care of me," but I think everyone has their limit. And since we work in health care, we know how to do so much and we see so much and I guess sometimes the assumption is made that we can do it all. And when it comes to my parents someday (I'm an only child), I'll probably do the same thing.

    However, I'll say this about nursing homes: the nursing home patients that I have taken care of when they've come to the hospital have been very well cared for; it's rare to see a pressure ulcer or anything. But the ones cared for at home, that's another story. Practically every chronic trainwreck I've taken care of has been cared for at home. I had a patient several months ago who had a stage 4 decub from mid-back to anus. You could actually see her spinal cord. ESRD on dialysis 3x/wk, bilat AKAs, aphasic, mulitple CVAs, etc. She was cared for at home by her "loving" son. Pitiful, just broke my heart; they'd been "keeping her alive" for years, probably for her SS check. I've never prayed so hard for a patient to die so she'll be put out of her misery. Thankfully she did.

    One other thing: he really needs to have a advanced directive and a health care power of attorney given to someone who WILL abide by his wishes. We've had too many patients lately that have had the advanced directive, but it was ignored by the family (usually one member was the holdout, so the dr would not write the DNR) or else the person with POA would not have the intestinal fortitude to say, "OK, it's time to let Daddy go." Of course the dr will not write the DNR unless the entire family is in agreement, or at least the POA.

    Good luck to you, and do your best to help Dad stay healthy. He might actually do better living with you (as long as he were able to maintain some independence). I know my grandpa lived quite well for a long time after 3 MIs and 2 CABGs with my uncle, who made sure he got good meals, took his medicine, and just interacted with him. It is not a good thing to be alone, you know. Or he might like an assisted living/elder apartments-type setup. I don't know if these are common, but where I used to live, there was a retirement community that had different levels of care, and you paid so much to join, then so much a month to live there, and they would always take care of you, whether you needed independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, or nursing home. You'd be there till you died (or until you decided to move).