How do I make peace with parents' poor choices?

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Mom was diagnosed 3 years ago with Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus after falling and lying on the floor for 17 hours.
This summer she's fallen 4 times, and had the "right" at age 78 to leave nursing rehab and go home to Dad. She says she's willing to take the risk of falling again to be home. We are uncomfortable with her choice, and she doesn't want "strangers" helping in her home. Dad is 81, and they are both barely functioning in their dysfunction. I'm just praying I don't have any regrets if something happens that I could have prevented. I have health issues myself, and it takes a lot out of me to help them. My biggest question is: How do I make peace with the poor choices I see my parents making when they are strong willed to stay in their home and function in their dysfunction, and seem happy to do so?

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We suffer, sometimes, as we watch our parents make, what seems to us, poor choices. However, unless they are cognitively disabled, they actually do have rights. If they are happier with their arrangement than any other, you may just have to wait. Yes, she'll fall again. Maybe she'll get hurt badly. Or your dad will get ill. There will come a time when changes will have to be made.
But it is there life and sometimes there isn't much we can do. Keeping them safe isn't always the same as keeping them happy. It's tough to watch, I know. But if you can't see any way to change their thinking, you may have to wait until something else does.
Meanwhile, don't badger or nag. However, if they know people living in assisted living homes who are happy, encourage friendships in this area. Sometimes peers can help them make decisions more readily than adult children. Good luck,
Carol
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My parents are 81 and 78. They live in a huge house (5000 sq with a full basement that IS full) and it is situated on acreage. My dad has had several back surgeries and neck surgeries, both have had knees replaced, and my mother seems mentally ill to me; mean as a snake and lashes out at him constantly. He walks out of the room and rewrites history about her. He suggested to me that he thinks she has Alzheimer's (I don't think she does) but if I suggest he get her to a doctor about it, he brushes it off saying that 'if she gets really bad then I will think about it". If I suggest that it is best managed be addressing it early he just shuts me down.
He on the other hand seems to think all these surgeries are things that are supposed to 'make him like new' so after a major neck fusion or something he is back to climbing up on the roof to clean out gutters or something.
My dad was a successful business man and retired at 50. They built their home as well as designed every detail of it 37 years ago and he was the developer of the whole development they live in. So he thinks of himself I think sort of as the 'king' around there. Biggest home, biggest yard, and he can't imagine ever moving. It would be admitting failure or mortality. So we have accepted that the probably wants to 'go' being the guy who fell off the roof while clearing out gutters. What I fear is that he won't die - he will be permanently disabled but live much longer. However, they are grown ups and they are free to do what they want to do. There are five of us siblings and I am positive this is going to be a hellish situation when the perverbial "you know what" hits the fan. But that's what they are creating. We will deal with it. Meanwhile, as I approach 60 and my husband, who just turned 61, both realize this will be us in 20 years, have decided to take a lesson from this craziness and just make better choices as we age.
My mother in law is 91 and lives in a nursing home, where the food stinks and people who have already lost it are ranting down the hall or sleeping in their chairs. She didn't really have a plan for home care even though she had the means and she lives in a place where good care choices are limited. I don't want this existence either. Pray about it, and then you just have to let it be. Bless you and good luck.
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This is about you making peace with their decision and not having regrets by letting them make these decisions. I suggest assessing the safety of the decision, then where it varies to being unsafe, talk with your parents and voice your concerns. Realize it still may not effect their decision, but in good conscious you have told them your concerns. My mom is 85 and agrees with me when I voice my concerns to her but she continues to go against what we have agreed upon. It is frustrating but she is still captain of her ship and my job as first mate is to help her navigate the waters. Hope this helps!
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As long as they are both happy with their decisions and accept the consequences of them, you really have no choice but to make peace with it. Don't expend a lot of energy now. You'll need it later when one of them dies or becomes too frail for the other to care for. Make some decisions for yourself and your family now (would you let them move in with you, how much are you willing to be involved in their care wherever they wind up living, etc.). I always advise adult children to have a plan in their mind. Share it with mom and dad, whether they agree with it or not. It's better to have a plan to start from than just reacting in the moment when a crisis occurs and decisions have to be made pretty quickly. Be prepared, a crisis is very likely to occur in the situation you describe.
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The popular consensus seems to be that the parents are entitled to make decisions about their lives. I think the writer gets that. But this is a forum for caregivers. The problem is that when people make decisions about their lives, so often they do not consider how it will affect others. Children think that way, too, and they're also thinking that if they mess up, their parents will be there to fix things for them. Here we have the reverse situation where the parent is making choices irrespective of how it will affect the child. Chances are the parent is relying that the child will be there to fix things when they mess up. Unfortunately, my advice is no different. People have legal rights whether or not they're are capable of handling the responsibility of those rights. Even when a bad outcome is perfectly predictable, there's nothing you can do to prevent it. I can only suggest that you enjoy whatever freedom and joy you have NOW. Don't waste precious time waiting for the catastrophe or living in fear of what might happen. When that time comes to aid your parents, take solace in knowing the situation was your mother's choice and you can only do what is within your limitations.
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I'm so sorry you are going thru this. As you can see, it's a common problem. We've gotten so good at keeping people going that we are getting "old" with our parents! I enjoyed reading what frustrated2 had to say and I have also thought that I'm going to try to learn from this and do a better job of preparing for old age.

I just turned 60 and I'm trying to look at all the possessions my husband and I have and where to cut back by selling, donating or just giving away. We also have 3 nice horses that will probably last until we're about ready to move to a smaller place so no need to buy more, especially young ones!

We have a walkout basement and a lot of people have told us to finish it, but there are just the two of us. We don't need more furniture and we'd rather spend the money doing things.

A few years ago we talked my parents into moving to a much smaller place. We couldn't believe all the crap they'd accumulated. They had so much, they couldn't take care of all of it so it deteriorated and was thrown out rather than shared with someone who could have used it!

The other thing I'm learning is to at least try to do a better job of taking care of myself physically and mentally. My husband is a work in progress!
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Thank you everyone for the great comments, it helps to feel you're not alone. Took Mom to Dr. on Weds, she refuses the alert button, refuses in home care, unless medicare pays for it. She forgets her meds. I had thyroidectomy yesterday, so asked sibs to help out, hopefully they can/will. Thank you, thank you! We all help each other here. Most people just need a good listening too! Along with a dose of dignity, respect, humor, and common bonds. God Bless, K
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I so agree with the idea that safe isn't the same as being happy. My mom was in a nursing home for 6 weeks, lost 2 pounds a week, went into depression and was failing. Brought her home and she ate and was happy. I'd rather she was happy than completely safe. Falls happen in nursing homes too, I found her on a bathroom floor having fallen in the nursing home. I found neighbors and friends are better to have around - they check in frequently and she likes having them as opposed to having someone come in that is a worker. I hope your mom is happy for as many weeks or months as this works for her.
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Very wise words, Carol.
I go through this same dilemma on a daily basis - I want to keep my mother safe, but she resists with a vengeance.
She's 88, in the advanced stages of CHF, and as a result needs to restrict her salt intake - but she's always eating the saltiest foods she can get her hands on. As a result, her leg edema gets so bad that her skin breaks and they become infected, she then has to have the visiting nurses come in to assist.
She still drives, does her own housework, but she is really slowing down. Her big comment when she goes through a period of needing the help of the visiting nurses is that they're trying to "turn me into an invalid".
She has always been stubborn and willful - when I get frustrated with her, I remind myself, she is who she is, she's not going to change just because she's old.
She wants to live at home as long as possible, yet she refuses the help of others, refuses to modify her diet; she's obsessed with not appearing weak.
She complains about everything, and everybody.
When it all gets to be too much, I just walk away.
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Whose poor choices, whose disfunction? At their age, they have earned the right to live (and die) as they believe best for them. For them. There's the key. Your peace----as mine did----comes from supporting them with all the capabilities you can muster, with creative ideas, with presence, with honor. There's your peace.
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