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CARENOTES / Past Carenotes / Discussion Forum

Carenotes

Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 020608
How does one go about finding a "geriatric care manager"?. My Mom is 92 and lives alone one block from my husband and me. She has limited vision from macular degeneration and she has hearing problems (won't wear hearing aids). She can take care of herself physically and cooks some. I do everything else: pay her bills, order her meds, shop for or with her,(usually just me), I make her doctor's appointments, pay her bills,withdraw moneyfor her occasional house cleaner, in other words I do everything for her. She used to pay me, but decided "you will get everything I have when I die so I don't need to pay you now". That is true as I am an only child. I said what if I die before you and her response was, "well you won't need it then". Mentally she is usually sharp but has moments of ????.

She does not want to have anyone else in the house. She has no friends and doesn't intend to get any. I am 70 years old and my husband and I live on social security with a bit more that he earns doing consulting work. I have rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, even with those I amusually in pretty good health. My husband and I go on a cruise every October for our anniversary and we try to go visit our children who live 450 miles from us a couple of times a year. One of her favorite things is to tell me how many times we have been away for the year. If we go out of town I worry about her and I am fortunate to have friends in the neighborhood,she has signals to show them she is up and they call her. Her former doctor told her that she needed to have someone come in 3 times a week. We had someone for awhile but Mom couldn't understand her and now she won't have anyone else.. She sleeps all day and complains she can't sleep at night..........wonder why. She has a healthy heart and no cancer or anything life threatening. I know she isn't going to change but I could sure use some help. My friend told me I am "an enabler", but I feel responsible for her. She has no one else. S

View Comments


name: David Gillaspie
location: Oregon
Email: deg86@comcast.net
Date: 05 Feb 2008

Comments

I like your Mom from the way you described her. She has a good social system with you and the neighbors who look for signals to be sure she's up and around. And she sounds like she runs her own show. What does she need you for? I think you know the answer. So often an elderly loved one goes out of their way to let us know they are 'in control' and 'everything is fine.' But we know they are a bad cold away from pneumonia, one step away from taking a fall they might not stand up from. Those are haunting prospects to consider, but our loved ones don't seem to understand the concern. One way to help them understand is by letting them do everything on their own. But we caregivers don't do that. We already know they need help. The question is, how much help? Does your Mom think you are hovering over her? Intruding in matters that don't concern you? If I were you, I'd be hovering and intruding. I wouldn't want to be responsible for what might happen if I walked away, or backed off on my regular routine. I don't think you want that either. Instead, share with her the time you take to assist her. Have her with you while you do the bills, order the meds, go shopping. In other words, show her your world, and her place in it. Ask her questions about the bills and meds. Write a shopping list together. By doing this you will expand her understanding of what you do. And you will have a more active partner in care instead of a passive complainer. If you are all she has, make sure she understands how much your love for her motivates your actions. When she notes how many times you are out of town, be sure to remind her she is always invited. Admire your Mom for her good health, but be sure to discuss your health issues with her. Caregiving can be a two way street. Let her know you need her help, too. I've got a feeling she'll rise to the challenge.


name: Edna
location: North Carolina
Email: ednaclute@yahoo.com
Date: 06 Feb 2008

Comments

Would she let you take her in your house to live? She probably gets lonesome and scared when you're gone. Maybe afraid others won't look after her like you do. She needs comfort, peace, and understanding. When you get old, you feel like no one cares. I'm going on 81, and I'm relating how I would feel. In the meantime, I'll be praying for all of you. Edna


name: barbara williams gcm
location: myrtle beach
Email: bwilliams58@sc.rr.com
Date: 06 Feb 2008

Comments

Your mom has been laying guilt trips on you since you were born - needless to say, she has had years to practice her technique and you have responded like a trained monkey to her - you need to turn a deaf ear to her and not let her get to you - she isn't about to stop whether you have a care manager in place or not - you are still going to have to deal w/ her at some time. if there are no advertised geriatric care managers in your area you might want to contact your local area agency on aging - they have case managers who may be able to intervene at least while you and your husband are traveling to keep an eye on her - if she will let them in the door otherwise, you need to put up your borders and learn to say no to mom occasionally when she is being demanding. let her know what you will do for her and when and keep those guidelines in place. then the hardest part is putting up w/ her games and guilt trips that she will attempt to lay on you. just remember that as long as you have provided for her needs to the extent that she will let you, you have nothing to feel guilty about. you are entitled to your life too. enjoy what you and your husband want to do together because she might outlive both of you. thinking you can put off things to accommodate her is the wrong thing to do. as long as she is safe in her environment, and her basic needs are being met, you have done all that you are obligated to do. draw a very definite line there and DON'T FEEL GUILTY. mother will still be mother and there is nothing you can do to change that. she has had years to practice her behavior. you need to change your behavior and your mindset. if you can find an gcm to intervene and do some of the things you are doing it could be nice to give yourself the break but it won't stop mother from being mother - good luck


name: TAWANDA STORY
location: SWANSEA ,ILLINOIS
Email: SENIORHELP59@AOL.COM
Date: 06 Feb 2008

Comments

Listening to your story, reminds me of why I started Senior Supportive Services. Many seniors can remain in their homes and independent, if hey have additional support to handle all the things that you are doing. My advice is to seek referrals from your local Department of Aging. Also, if you have computer access, this is a great place to start your research of local agencies. Good Luck!


name: Dorothy
location: VA
Email: dmsaundersinva@hotmail.com
Date: 06 Feb 2008

Comments

Your friend has a point, I think. Your mother is being inflexible, and it is negatively affecting both of you. She seems to be getting some satisfaction out of having you at her beck and call. She should not be trying to guilt-trip you about taking a vacation and visiting your children. With both vision and hearing deficits (the latter easily minimized by hearing aids), she may well be putting herself at risk by continuing to cook. Her health will deteriorate at some point, and it will be up to you to insist on some changes -- she seems to be in denial. You will have to be firm about this, and a GCM can help you get this message across to your mother. Area Agency on Aging will have referrals for you. Another option is to use respite care at an assisted living facility when you travel. The activities and socialization she would experience during a brief stay may help her realize that she is too isolated at home.


name: Jan
location:
Email:
Date: 06 Feb 2008

Comments

In order to find a Geriatric Care Manager in your area, log onto www.caremanager.org. You can then find a listing of individuals in your area. Additionally it sounds like home care might be needed also and a good place to find a reliable source is www.privatedutyhomecare.org. Best wishes to you and your family!


name: Judy
location: Montana
Email: coa@ronan.net
Date: 06 Feb 2008

Comments

Geriatric Care Management can be a real God-Send for your Mom. By all means, contact your Area Agency on Aging and /or your County Council on Aging. Mom's of 92 years of age are increasingly in need of expanding their "support zone". I tell my Dad that he just needs some extra "rented kids" to enjoy his delightful sense of humor. The fact that your Mom has her days and nights flipped in indicative of her shrinking world. Since you don't say where you live, I can't give you a specific referral. Leaving all the historic family dynamic aside, it is always difficult to give oneself permission to take care of the caregiver and the future while feeling the tug of a parent's need. Please give yourself permission to travel, see your children and find a care manager. Taking care of yourself and managing stress is essential to your continued health. Mom sounds like a sweety and will be a joy in the lives of those you get to help you. Look at this as sharing her and remember that you want your children to learn that they need to take care of themselves when the time comes to take care of you.


name: Roseann
location: Pahrump, NV
Email: songofsolomon411@peoplepc.com
Date: 06 Feb 2008

Comments

I understand your situation in some ways. My dad was 87 or so when he asked me to move in with him and my mentally disabled brother. He said he didn't want me to work, that he would give me room and board and spending money. I should have got that clearer, for at first I had to ask him for almost every penny I spent. For instance, he would complain if I spent $35 for a perm. He said the money was his till he died and then I would get it. Remember we are still children in our parents' eyes. I finally had to take a little more control and start putting all my expenses on a credit card and paying it off every month. As for trips, my dad threw a fit every time I went to see my grown children and grandchildren. One time my daughter was going to have a c-section and I felt I needed to be there. I made all arrangements for church friends to bring them food and check on them. He told my brother if he died while I was gone not to call me, that I didn't care. I had to stand my ground and go, and even then he called while I was there and asked me to come home, which I did not do till the visit was over. Do you have power of attorney? Do you have a joint bank account? If so, it would not be illegal for you to use some of her money for your expenses. If you do all her finances, she would probably not even know it. as stated by others, keep loving her and do the best you can, but don't give up your entire life for her. There are others who can help you. My prayers are with you. My dad died in 2001 and now I have my brother in a nursing home, but that is another story.


name: The writer of the above note
location:
Email:
Date: 06 Feb 2008

Comments

I have found a wonderful lady to go to Mom's 3 days a week for 2 or 3 hours. This is a great relief to me. The caregiver has even gotten Mom to play poker with her!! (Mom has macular degeneration and says she can't see). It is such a relief not to have to worry about her 24/7.


name: Nina
location: Long Island, NY
Email: MsNeen50@aol.com
Date: 06 Feb 2008

Comments

Have you checked with the local nursing homes, extended care facilities, or Eldercare divisions of your town government? Have you considered an" Adult Day Care" that would pick mom up in the morning and drop her off at night? The social activity would, at least, keep her mind active during the day so that she might, perhaps, sleep at night. Maybe those friends/neighbors of yours could help by taking her there for you. Also check with the Visiting Nurse Association. They can be a great resource. Join a support group and get information when you share yours. It can be a GREAT source of strength. You are not alone in this, believe me. Don't let the guilt eat at your emotions...it's difficult because I'm going through it myself. But I have learned I have to get away and get some "me" time, enjoying the company of others and just having fun. When I first brought my Mother to Long Island from Boston, I never went ANYWHERE. I didn't want to be away from her for more than a day. I now plan vacations on cruises, road trips, whatever and allow an extra day or two before or after we leave to spend some quality time with her. It gives me some kind of peace of mind while I'm away. I hope this helps.


name: Molly Shomer
location: Dallas, TX
Email: molly@eldercareteam.com
Date: 07 Feb 2008

Comments

As a practicing care manager I can tell you Barbara Williams is right that a care manager won't be able to change your mother's personality or her expertise at pushing your buttons. But you can change how you respond to the pushing of buttons. In order to keep your own health and sanity you MUST draw some boundaries. Your mother will probably wail and howl, and she may even have an "accident" or get "sick." She could have an accident with you in the same room, and you being at her elbow won't keep her from coming down with something. As long as she has the basic necessities and access to emergency help (have you investigated a personal alert system such as "Lifeline?") you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. Since she apparently has some money (which she won't share with you) offer her a choice when you go out of town: either a respite stay in assisted living, or a homecare agency to come in every day. No other options. If she refuses to accept help and has a "crisis" while you're gone, then 911 is always there. Remember, if she is legally able to make her own decisions, then you have no alternative but to allow her to experience the consequences of her choices. Just as we allow our children to learn from making their own bad decisions, your mother is never too old to learn if she has the mental ability. A geriatric care manager can help you find all the local resources. A care manager can sit with you and your mother and explain the options. The best care manager in the world won't be able to force your mother to see reason, accept help, or stop pushing your buttons.


name: Eileen
location: SE Minnesota
Email: eking@kmtel.com
Date: 07 Feb 2008

Comments

Reading through the comments helps me as well as anyone else in this situation. You have written my story except my mother is 93 and lives next door to me on the farm. Her stubborn refusal of any help (cane, hearing aids,) along with the "I don't know what I'd do if you weren't here," keeps one's head and heart in a constant twist. I love her, but... Thankfully I have the help of 2 sisters close by, but they figure I'll do whatever needs to be done because I always have. My daughter correctly sums it up by saying, " Grandma has been in Assisted Living for 30yrs!" Perhaps you have friends that can start to visit her (while you're with her) so she'll become accustomed to others and enjoy the company.( These are your friends so she might accept them more easily.) Then you might be able to slowly add some outside care which you need for your own sanity. It's something I think I'll try myself. Good Luck. E. PS I've installed a baby monitor between our houses to help me hear her during the night should she fall.


name: Cheri
location: Oklahoma City, OK
Email: socialservices@dailylivingcenters.org
Date: 07 Feb 2008

Comments

Try adult day care in your area. She would be around people her own age, have things to do including (probably) exercise, crafts, music, socialization. You can get her doctor involved and have him/her tell her that she needs to get out with people other than you. Doc could put in writing if that will help. You need to take care of yourself, as many times the caregiver dies before the cared for person. I too am an only child and when Mom would try to lay a guilt trip on me for whatever reason, I would take a deep breath and tell myself that "it's her not me" and keep going. You have to learn where to draw the line in the sand and know what you are and aren't willing to do for her. She will either have to do certain things for herself or get someone else. I know that sounds harsh, but you have yourself to think of too!


 







 

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