We moved my parents into a nursing home and now they are very bitter, what can we do? ?

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My mother was diagnosed with AD 8 years ago. My father cared for her up until just before Thanksgiving. We strongly suspected that he was not doing alot better than she was, but he refused to go to the doctor. He got a bad urinary tract infection and became basically non-responsive. He wound up in the hospital for 30 days of IV antibiotics. The doctors said Dad has rapidly advancing dementia. We were told that we could not care for him and he would not be able to live at home anymore. We learned that they had been forgetting to eat, take care of personal hygeine, and take their meds.

They were moved into a nursing home right after Christmas. They are heartbroken and miserable there and hate my brother now. (They chose him to be in charge of their affairs.) They are convinced that he stole all their money and they are penniless. My father is very paranoid, bitter, and at times, mean and physically combative. Mom can't do hardly anything on her own so his reality is my mother's too.

My sister lives 2 and a half hours away and she and her husband have been caring for his mother for about 20 years. I live 16 hours away and still have 4 children at home ranging in ages from 3 to 13, two of which are autistic. My brother lives 30 minutes away, but I have been at my parents home more times a year than he has for the last 20 years. Still, this is the son that has been their 'golden child' all his life, and who they chose to be the executor of their estate and now has POA for both of them. As angry as my sister and I have been over his selfishness for most of his life, we both feel badly that they are treating him like this when he isn't doing anything wrong.

What can we do? Is there anyway to get through the fog and convince them the truth. Should we try to move them back home with 24 hr caregivers? Help?!

Answers 1 to 5 of 5
Trish - I am sorry to hear that you're all having such a hard time. I am in the same situation as your brother - I'll spare you the details of my family dynamic and get to some ideas to help your parents and your brother.

First, guilt and grieving are two things you can't escape right now. It will not magically go away, all you can do is talk yourself out of it. After a while the situation with your parents becomes the new normal and you just get used to it. For me, I've had to emotionally detach from Mom somewhat and realize she's not the same woman I knew growing up. Second, I suggest telling your brother that you support this move to assisted living and you know he's trying to do the right thing for your parents. He won't say he needs to hear it but TRUST me - he NEEDS to hear it. The best thing for me is a husband who tell me that I'm a good daughter, that I'm looking out for Mom's safety. Coming together to help my Mom was actually good for the relationship between my brothers and me. Rather than argue, I showed them all the details of Mom's assets and discussed projected expenses. Once they realized I was conserving her funds not using them myself, they developed trust in me. This might not be possible with your brother but if he accepted their PoA then he is accountable for the decisions and the funds. Trust me, it's really not an easy or pleasant; your parents might have done a big favor for you by having him as PoA.

You and your siblings should sit down and talk about a strategy to deal with your parents. Here is what we did for my Mom,
- We created a list of reasons why she needs to be in assisted living/nursing care. Each time she says anything to any one of us about going home we rattle off a few things from the list. This way it's consistently the same message. The basic foundation for the list is her safety - "Being at home is not safe for you anymore...the halls and doorways are too narrow for a walker or wheelchair, the shower and bathroom is to small/narrow/cramped (pick one) and it's too expensive to remodel. Arthritis makes you weak and so opening cans or carrying hot food to from the oven/stove/microwave is too difficult.." You get the picture. We also try hard not to say "you are weak, you are frail, YOU are old.." We say, "the arthritis damaged your knees", the wheelchair won't fit, etc...

The money questions from Mom are difficult; it's generally not the money but the lack of control over the money. If your brother is PoA, I suggest asking him what sort of message he's giving them and then do what you can to support it. I lie to my Mom and tell her that medicare and medicaide plus social security are enough to meet her rent. I tell her that her savings are right where she left them. We exhausted her funds a few months ago but she doesn't need to know that. Her house is as she left it, one brother lives there and keeps it up, that comforts her. We'll sell it all at some point but not while she's coherent enough to understand.

Your dad's bitterness is understandable but there could be under lieing issues. Infections, drug interactions, stress of watching your Mom. First, see if you can get a full physical for him. If he's already taken antibiotics then start with the meds. Don't be surprised if he gets urinary tract infections easily - they are common on the elderly. The infection can make them act differently and the treatments can make them goofy too.

As for visits, do what you can. I live 8 states from my Mom but I make regular trips to see her, when I go I stay for two weeks at a time. Luckily, I can work from anywhere. At this point, I'm hoping to move closer; to within a 6 hour drive so I can visit more often but for shorter periods. When I can't get there I send cards and call every 3-4 days. My brothers each visit one every week - one early in the week and one later; this divides up the visits so there's someone in contact with her every few days. We agreed on this strategy at the same time we created the "move list" from above.

I've captured a lot of our ideas and my feelings in a blog: help-4-mom.blogspot.com - it's not commercial at all, no ads, no sponsors just our experiences. I hope these comments and anything you find on the blog are helpful. It sounds like your parents raised some caring kids - it's a great accommplishement. Good luck.
oops - forgot to address the part about care givers at home.... we did that and I have mixed emotions. It was fine as long as we had the right person. It took 6 months to find her and she only worked for Mom for 6 months until she found a better job. The companies that hire these people charge a LOT per hour and pay very little so good reliable helpers are hard to find and keep.

It cost just about the same amount to hire full time help as it did for the nursing home so financially there's little benefit. The trust issues are also greater - the helpers have a lot of time and opportunity to take things and cash. A few of Mom's precious - and pricy - mementos disappeared. They might have been stolen but most likely Mom gave them away and then forgot.

Looking back, I wish we'd just moved her to assisted living and forgo the help at home. Now that she needs some nursing care, I trust she'll get it, there's no way we could afford the same care in her home for more than a month. If your parents need daily help with bathing, food prep, medications, laundry, wound care - it's probably best that they are some place where all of that is done for them on a routine.
I don't think my dad will forgive me for putting him in a care home but I couldn't go on. Only time will tell
Thank you, Lynn for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, since I posted that my brother has become bitter and angry towards them and he won't go see them or listen to anything we suggest to help them. We are disagreeing on things such as getting them a telephone so we can call them- he refuses, and he won't agree to remove their "jailbreak" anklets. At first they threatened to try to leave but not now, though he says they still are. I'm not sure when they say this to him because he quit going to see them after the first three weeks. A family friend that is almost like another son to them goes to see them every day and they have never said anything like that to him or my sister since they first got there.

My brother says they are making themselves miserable because they decided that's what they were going to do and nothing will change that. Of course we don't agree. I have tried to tell him they are miserable because of the situation and how abruptly it all happened but he is bitter and to be honest a little spiteful.

My dad has improved drastically in the last 2 months and we are trying to talk my brother into agreeing to this wonderful assisted living facility we found in the same town. I hope it all works out for them to go there. I really believe they would be much more satisfied together in their own space with a little independence. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Thanks again and I will check out your blog.
Trish -- Sorry to hear things have become spiteful.. sometimes people just can't be compassionate. If the situation becomes too bad and if your parents show enough improvement to handle their own business affiars they can re-assign their PoA - it only has to be one of them so your dad could do it. The social services office at the nursing home might be able to direct to you some legal help. Good luck!

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