Elders won't follow doctor's directives, but they call for help when things go bad. Where can we draw the line?


If elders will not take meds, do exercise, remember to pay bills, or keep their home secured (to name a few) -- then, something goes wrong and they call for help. If they refuse to follow common sense rules, then at what point do we as family members/caregivers have the right to say, " I have tried to help but you will not follow common sense rules. You've made your bed now lie in it" (old expression).

My age group is old enough to remember that expression used on us. The person telling us this was saying that they will not be responsible for our behavior or the fallout any more; the responsibility was on us to take care of the issue.

Case in point -- elder won't take a medicine prescribed. There is an adverse medical occurence -- 911 is called -- trip to hospital. Caregiver is called out of work. Doesn't get home 'til way late -- spouse and children eat sandwiches for supper. Kids don't get the promised cupcakes baked, spouse is cleaning the cat-box and doing after supper dishes. Day is done -- caregiver too tired to wonder what household needs still have to be done -- all because of a trip to an emergency room w/ hours of waiting to hear the elder say "I just don't like that medicine," and the ER docs have no time but the shake their heads and transcribe a note to the elder's primary doc. Usually the caregiver/family member is "scolded" for not getting the elder to do what is prescibed. Well, guess what? They have no authority unless they have complete guardian paperwork. The caregiver has to make a dozen calls the next day to follow up on everything for the elder's benefit and the elder doesn't ever care -- they just want attention when they "have a tummy ache" or whatever. Help!

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I would simply say, "I'm sorry, I can't come now. Call me when she is ready to come home and I'll pick her up. She doesn't need me there until then."
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It's so frustrating how they feel they deserve to be independent but do such nutty things to prove they shouldn't. Then get mad at you when you're forced to step in. They don't have a clue how much they interrupt your life or don't care that they do. When you know it's not life threatening, you may have to let them fail. You can't be there for their every move. And if someone hints that you didn't jump fast enough, well, I always gave them the look from hell and never said a word. How dare they! You can only do so much. My mom was guilty of eating ice cream, candy bars, pie, etc because she rationalized an insulin shot would fix it all and she was a retired nurse who knew better. Grrr! She'd want my advice but never took it, she'd sit all day with SVT and then tell me "I knew you were busy and probably wouldn't help me anyway" when I saw how sick she was and was calling EMS. oh I could go on and on. I just winged it for each crazy thing she did, some times I just let it go, other times I'd read her the riot act and tell her to cut it out if she intended to continue living alone.
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This is so close to what my parents do. My mother will read about the side effects of all new drugs that the Dr. prescribes, and if there's anything there, she will refuse to take it, or refuse to let my father take it! (She even did the same for me at one point.) Also has a bad habit of refusing anything for pain management, even on behalf of my father (a double amputee). She drives me NUTS with it!
Add this to the fact that she's a diabetic and eats full sugar ice cream and candy daily, won't take most of her meds or "forgets" to take them, and won't eat dinner half the time because she is "too tired" and doctor visits become an absolute nightmare. Dad's just as bad, is in renal failure, and steals cigarettes when he thinks we can't find them, hides his meds, throws a fit if we take his salt shaker away (or fill it with anything other than salt) and generally complains about anything the least bit healthy that gets cooked (even if its not for him!)
I actually live IN the home with them though, so everyone assumes I should have more control over things. It's enough to turn even the most even-tempered person into a full on basketcase.
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