How to discuss things with my parents without them being offended.

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I will warn anybody in advance that this is my first post and will probably be too long because I'll probably starting ranting....SORRY

My parents are 77, dad has multiple myeloma (diagnosed 9 years ago, went into remission and now it's back), he's receiving weekly chemo, he has prostate issues and is now using a catheter and is generally pretty weak but still mobile. Mom is the healthier of the two...has Rheumatoid arthritis which causes her problems, she was hospitalized a few months ago due to a mini stroke (she's probably had more than we are even aware of).

I am the sibling that does all the "heavy lifting" and gets phone calls like I did at 4:30 a.m Tuesday morning "Can you take dad to the ER he thinks there's a problem with his catheter and we were just there...he wants to go back"

My mom drove my dad at 2:00am in below zero temperatures because he thought there was no output to his catherer and something was wrong. Nothing was wrong but they came all the way home and my dad was still convinced (because of his low urine output) something was at 4:30 they called me and I took him back to the ER! It's a long story and he's OK but stuff like this keeps happening.

It just seems like we're always putting out fires. I hate it. I love my parents dearly and have and will continue to help them in anyway but their judgment sometimes seems so off and it's really evident that they are getting confused and forgetful about some things. I don't know if it's dementia or just the fact that they're tired and both on a boatload of medication.

I think I'm limited in what I can do or say because they still are able to function in their house ..just not very well...there's always some emergency or "fire" that I have to put out. I know I'm preaching to the choir but it's stressful beyond belief.

At what point do I sit down with them OR my thought was to write them a letter (I think they might comprehend it a little better?) and say not in so many words but "you guys are a mess and we need to have some sort of a plan to help you live more comfortably and safely"

We have been down this road before but with their finances...last year they went from not having to worry about money to having constantly to worry and we had a HUGE family drama over it....since then I've sort of backed off suggesting things to them (they don't listen really) and let things just happen . I have POA but they are not at that point yet.

I'll stop now and just ask how do you bring up things without offending them (Dad is SUPER stubborn, I'm going to die in this house I know everything man) and Mom is sort of on the fence about things and more passive but able to be offended if I word things wrong.
Thanks much!


Roseanne, you know your parents better than anyone else, so you probably know how to approach the subject diplomatically. Chances are great that no matter what you suggest, your father will be on the opposite side and your mother will stay on the fence. Oftentimes the elderly mind and the elderly body are out of sync. The mind still feels like it can, but the body says no. Sometimes the elder will believe things like "If I can only get a good night sleep" or "if I can get over this cold," then I will be better and be competent. They have not accepted that their bodies have lost capability. Since your father has multiple myeloma, I know that you and your mother will need help as he becomes weaker. I don't know how you could tell him this without making him feel bad about his future. I would talk to my father's doctor about his prognosis and discuss bringing in Hospice. Your father will probably be resistant, but it will put the idea into your parents' minds for the future. Bringing in Hospice would help to protect the assets your parents have, so your mother would not be left in poverty. Hospice will work for what Medicare covers.

Until he agrees to Hospice, you may try making yourself a little more scarce. Your parents can call 911 if they need to go to the ER. It would be easier for them, in fact, since they wouldn't have to go through triage. If something is seriously wrong, they can call you from the hospital.

I know your father is frightened, as are you and your mother. Is your father a spiritual man? If he is, talking to someone who can guide him may help him feel peace about what is happening. Always we fear death because we don't know what waits beyond. When we see death as just another door opening, it is not quite so frightening.

Many good thoughts coming your way. We just have to take things one day at a time. Some days are good and some are just awful. I hope you have many good days and can get these things worked out.
Thanks for the words of wisdom. making myself scarce is the same advice my husband gave me. I have started to do that and it has helped tremendously. Probably my need to fix things and plan is my way of dealing with my anxiety about the realization that my parents aren't going to be around forever,,of course I've always known that but to watch it unfold before your very eyes is strange.
When you are sitting down to have the talk with them, "you guys are a mess and we need to have some sort of a plan to help you live more comfortably and safely" I think they might take it better if you leave off the "you guys are a mess" part.

Calling 911 is the logical and safest way for your parents to get to an ER. But wouldn't it be great if they could get some advice regarding whether to go to ER, first? Chances are they can. Most insurance companies and many clinics have 24-hour nurse help lines who are experienced at asking pertinent questions and then advising about going to an ER immediately, waiting until the clinic opens and calling the doctor, taking some home-care measures first and then seeing what happens, etc. I have used nurse-line services for close to 40 years and find them invaluable. See what is available to your parents and encourage its use.

The you're a mess part was my sarcasm I would never say that to them :-) Believe me they know about 911 ..I've told my mom several times to call and I have called too...But my dad is of the "it costs too much, I can drive myself" ( he can't) mentality. I've explained that they get in faster if they are taken by an ambulance but sometimes talking to them is like talking to a wall. I am going to look into nurse line if I can get them to remember to use it. LOL:-)
It might help to have a trusted friend, minister or even their doctor there to help guide the conversation. If you have a home health care provider, they do have social workers who are very good at these type conversations between family members and the clients as well. Best of Luck!

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