Ok, Mom and Dad, what is your Plan B if I am not available?

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This is one talk I think many of us forget to ask our parents when we are caregivers, be it hands-on caregiving, or being the errand person/logistics, or both. Parents think their child [who could be in their 50's, 60's, and even 70's] are invincible. That we can go on forever.

My parents [mid-90's], still live in their single family home, had no Plan B... found that out when I was grounded [yes, play on words for the screen name] with an injury. My injury will take months in recovery then onto months in rehab. I can't use my right arm thus cannot drive because I can't start the car or use the gear shift. Can't lift squat. Can't write. Sleep most free time because the pain is exhausting [now I understand how elders with bone pain are napping all the time].

Ok, Mom and Dad, what do YOU plan to do? They look like deer in headlights. They never thought about what if I couldn't drive them to doctor appointments... I had to cancel all their appts, thus I hear a lot of grumbling. My parents won't ride with strangers, thus taxi cabs aren't an option. Nor do they like the aging care bus service.

Dad asked me, what do people their age do? Well, for one, they move to a retirement village where they never need to worry about transportation [my parents can afford to move]. Heavens, couple weeks ago Dad asked me to get him a 30lb bag of fertilizer... HELLO!!!


FF, has your dad been diagnosed with dementia?

Babalou, my Dad just has normal age related forgetfulness. He's also of the group that thinks if a woman is up and about, she's 100% cured :P
People who won't plan just have to wait for the **** to hit the fan and react the best they can. Me, I have plans and secondary plans and lists and maybe I'm a little overboard with the planning, but I hate to be caught flat footed so I try to micro manage everything. Somehow those without plans seem to land on their feet and they don't waste any emotion worrying about the "what ifs", maybe they're on to something there?
What happened to you? Break your arm or something? I had just gone through rotator cuff surgery, was still in a sling and eating oxy treats when mom ended up in the er. Switched to Tylenol, jumped in the car and drove 600 miles with one arm. Spent 2 weeks nursing, bathing, cleaning, coking, fixing with arm in sling. Didn't do any oxy but had a bottle of vodka hidden in my old room. For medicinal purposes only of course........
FF ' S parents may be on to something, but at FF 's expense. I worry about you!

If your dad hasn't been dx ' ed with dementia, I would take your recent injury as an opportunity to stop being their "fix". " I can't do this anymore Mom" was hard for me to say. But rescuing my mother no longer made any sense in the context of: she was 89 years old, living alone and isolated in the suburbs, wouldn't/couldn't call a taxi, became unhinged during taxi rides we arranged for her and on and on. In short, my brothers and I stop "enabling" her "independence". We are all healthier and a more functional family for having bitten the bullet.
Freqflyer- I am so sorry for your pain, and hope while you are concentrating on healing, your heart can rest,too, from the worry over your parents.
Per our prev.convos- I am in a similar situation, but my parents are20-25 years younger.
I wish I could offer some stellar advice- but j can offer a hug. ☺️
Babalou, there is no doubt that people like ff's parents need to rely on everyone else to clean up after their messes. It is up to each of us to set our boundaries or risk having to ride to the rescue repeatedly. Sadly this is a lesson that many never learn and even then it is extremely difficult to change well established patterns.
How about this..."Mom, Dad, I'm getting older and I've decided I can't be there to help you any more the way I have in the past. Here is a list of other options I have made up for you." When they call for help you say "Sorry, I can't do that anymore. Have you checked out that list I gave you?"
Ha, easy to say, not so easy to do I think.
Broke my shoulder when I fell in my office parking lot. No cast, just a sling, so I bet in my Dad's eyes my injury doesn't appear that serious, need a body cast to get his attention.... yikes there days I feel like gnawing my arm off because of the pain.... I'm limited on what I can take for the pain.

I plan to nurse this injury for all that it is worth. My plan B for myself is to hire a cleaning service to help me out here at home. Sig other doesn't see dirt unless it is a foot high and he trips over it :P

Odd, since I been hurt, I don't care if this doesn't get done or that when it comes to life in general. Example, couple weeks ago Dad ran out of eye vitamins which can only be bought at his eye doctor's office.... told Dad it will be a couple of weeks as I can get the vitamins when sig other takes me to get x-rays [same building].... I will buy 4 bottles this time :)
I'm still working on this and don't have much to offer.

But I do think that the combination of declining health, reduced independence and increased reliance on someone else, especially a family member, are such major contributing factors that it's really difficult for parents to look beyond those immediate needs and immediate family resources.

They're uncomfortable with new things and new people, even though they can become used to them (such as the MOW delivery folks), but the idea of a strange newcomer suddenly coming in to take over what's been done by family is unsettling. They're in a stage during which their adaptive abilities have been limited and this might just be too much.

I think the fact that adult children and spouses are no longer able to provide as they have been is such a cogent reminder of age decline that it can be debilitating and threatening.

And problem solving skills deteriorate as well, so it's difficult to conceive of alternatives, even if explained patiently by the caregiver.

Their world has grown smaller and smaller; it's hard to see beyond the new borders and accept that they're so compromised.

I'm not excusing it, just trying to explain the situation as I see it.
Windy, FF fell on the concrete in the parking lot at work and broke her shoulder. I think her sandal or shoe became caught in a little crack or something. Her range of motion has been severely limited.

As to how you could do what you did when your mother needed intensive help, well, you're a man. FF is a woman. That says a lot. And long live the differences, caregiving or otherwise.

Or perhaps you've hit on a solution which most of us haven't thought of - the need for outside sustenance. I'll take chocolate to vodka any day.

Or perhaps men can share what it is that gives them the adrenalin rush when the need arises?

We feel the responsibility, but sometimes the fatigue and pain can overcome our sense of commitment. Sometimes it's also a matter of survival; if we do what our parents want, it's clear that our own health and welfare will be damaged.

I had to draw a "line in the sand" like this last year when I had emergency surgery. I just couldn't help out for a while.

FF also has an SO who from her posts doesn't seem to want to pitch in and help physically. (FF, no criticism here - just interpretations.)

I wonder sometimes if this is because men for millennia had the primary responsibility of providing for the family in terms of safety, bringing home the mastadons or sabre tooth tigers for meals, fending off intruders...There are thousands of years of ingrained behavior of protection, while women protect in a different way.

Not to hijack the thread or undermine our female capability to respond, when I'm conflicted or stuck in a mental rut, I often ask myself how would a man friend handle this (I can hear my feminist friends here groaning and I sometimes berate myself for this approach), but men do approach problems differently, often more objectively.

No criticism is intended of women or men - it's just a different approach. The point is that we can learn from each other's strengths.

I also emphasize that no criticism or condemnation is intended of either sex.

In addition, FF has been taking care of both her parents for years now. It does wear the caregiver down, and sometimes it's not easy to get back up even with a parental emergency. The adrenalin can kick in, but with long term recovery it's not available on a regular flow - no IV drip of "Caregiving Saline #1 for Women".

I also don't have the energy or stamina I had when this started for me several years ago.

Back to back-up plans, we can identify all the contingent measures we want to, but implementation is the sticking point.

Specifically, how DO you get a parent to willingly agree to a facility placement for the rest of his/her life? How DO you get them to agree that things which have occupied nooks and crannies for years now need to be discarded or donated so make their homes safer?

I'm still searching for workable solutions as well as workable back-up plans that can actually be implemented.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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