What can I do if my parents are no longer able to care for themselves but refuse help?

Asked by

Answers 1 to 10 of 12
Top Answer
One suggestion would be to call adult protective services. They will not reveal to your parents that you were the one to make the call.
Do they need help with small things like medications and transportation and meal prep? Maybe they could have someone come in to do that stuff. If they need 24 hour care, could they afford to hire someone or would a relative step up?
I'm sure others will have different suggestions.
They are in their late 80s, but since they are both still pretty "with it" they cover for each other. But lately they have both fallen a few times. The paramedics had to come pick my dad up, and when my mom fell, he called the 78-year-old neighbor to pick her up--at midnight. My sister is 40 minutes away and I'm about 2 hours. Their neighbors are so helpful but have taken on the role of caretakers out of concern for them--which makes it easier for them to stay there. I thought the paramedics might make a report to APS but they didn't. (They will not move in with us either, we have asked.) I think if one of them falls again we may call APS. Thanks for that suggestion!
What about rearranging the furniture - or making the lights brighter and turn on automatically with a motion sensor? APS is pretty drastic.

If your parents are with-it and you are not available for them due to distance, then schedule an appointment for them with a certified gerontologist through the local area agency on aging. Important - do not confuse gerontologist with a business owner of a home health agency- this meeting should not be a sales call. That person can meet with them in their home and discuss what help they need while treating them as adults who just need physical help. A good gerontologist will also be willing as long as your parents are to include you and your sister by phone on the meeting, and follow up with you. If your parents are in their home and are mentally with-it they deserve support.

I wish you good luck in navigating the resources for helping your parents as they age. There are more resources today to support seniors which is good given the fact that there are so many family scenarios. I feel for you and believe if you speak to the right set of professionals you may have some peace of mind and be able to start helping your parents manage their lives, with an eye to the day when you may have to step in for them.

I do want to add that although I am not criticising, however I think you might reconsider the Adult Protective Services approach unless they are putting themselves in significant and immediate danger. Falling in their home can be evaluated and dealt with in more gentle ways. It is not appropriate or fair to put them in the "system". Likewise, APS cannot be expected to manage every senior - they are not big brother. Re-frame the suggestion and consider if you needed help with your children on a rotten day, you would be unhappy if someone called Childrens Protective Services.
Your local area agency on aging can help. Most offer free in-home evaluations to determine the level of care needed. They can connect your parents to local providers who offer a wide range of services from basic care (housekeeping and cooking) to full-scale nursing attendance. You can look up your local office at eldercare.gov.

You might also contact your state's Assistive Technology project. They can help you find emergency alert and environmental control systems. They can also help with home modification and simple products like grab bars and oversized remote controls. You can look up your local project at resna.org.

Good luck!

---Jess
We are fortunate that my husband and brother-in-law are very handy and have done lots of home modifications. We have made it as safe for them as we can, although they won't let us put a ramp over the front steps. It's mainly health and safety issues at this point, such as my dad doesn't take his coumadin if he doesn't "feel like it" and they are both pretty deaf and can't hear one another. And the falling really alarms me. Cat makes a good point that most of the people I have contacted end up being more like sales people. My sister also reminded me that we did look into APS and they have to be given permission to enter the home. So that wouldn't work anyway. My dad is very sweet-tempered and would do whatever we suggested, knowing we have their best interests at heart. It is my mom who gets very defensive and is fighting any loss of control tooth and nail. She repeatedly accuses us of "taking away" their car, even though the cardiologist told my dad in no uncertain terms that he could not drive any more. She was always very bossy and stubborn and of course it is worse now. We go to help them out several times a month and mostly just get abuse for it. This forum is great just to hear that others are going through the same thing, and I thank you very much for the suggestions and advice!
We had a social worker from Hospice come and evluate my parents after my dad was with the Hospice for about 8 months. They told them that they would no longer be on their own and needed 24 hour supervision. They balked, as expected. But the SW said that since my brother and I had POA and managed their monies, we could be held responsible for Elder abuse if we did not do what was best for them. It worked. Within 4 days we had a live-in and dad died 4 months later. Mom stayed with the live in for 4 more months, and then she moved in with us. It was the best decision . Even though it may have been stretching the truth, it worked!
Dear TRCD, I feel for you, as I have "been there, done that" (BTDT). And it not easy. A good point was made that APS is a drastic step, and I tried that, too. People have to be very very very bad off for them to exert governmental authority to step in and help out. That would be a worst case scenario. I know the frustration of trying and trying to find help, and searching and calling, and wishing someone could direct me. It was my full-time job + for many long weary months. And even the medical profession wasn't giving my parents the help they needed so desperately. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a few hospital visits or something catastrophic for help to align for you and them. Too bad it has to be this way.

Sounds like you have several issues going on here. Declining judgment is a big one for your parents. And they are fighting because they can. They won't always be able to fight, and will eventually need the help you so lovingly offer. Still, I'm not advocating you give up, give in, or wait for the next emergency. Where their judgment is failing, you have to correctly assess the situation, and be their advocate. Document your concerns and observations, and ask their Physician for a referral to a home health agency, and expect he give it. If your Dad is refusing to take his needed medication, that is both a health, and judgment issue. Your Mom's anger is understandable. It is hard to lose abilities, and see you and your spouse decline. It is hard for us children to see participate in the decline, as well. Much grace and wisdom is needed here, and I'm sure you are already aware of that. Be gentle with yourself and your parents. But be firm. Tell Mom in as loving a way as possible, that you have her best interests at heart, and will be getting some help for them. Do not let her intimidate you, but give her a gentle ultimatum and be firm. You'll thank yourself for taking this position, and finding them the help they need. It's harder when you're long distance, but can be done well, with or without cooperation. I applaud you for caring enough to help...as some offspring choose a more selfish path. You are a caring angel.

I was accused of taking away my parent's car, as well. It is still a sticking point with Mom, but it was vitally necessary. Getting a doctor's order in writing helps, and you can also get the Secretary of State involved of pulling their license, if need be. I feel for your Mom. Mine cried bitterly, and wept openly when she lost her driving privileges. She's still mad at me about it, for "taking away her car," but she was a danger to herself and others. I didn't and don't like being "the bad guy" (girl), but chose to do what's right for them despite the repercussions of their anger. I sleep better knowing they are safe. Anger is nothing new in my family, so I am learning not to cower under it, but be a responsible adult and loving daughter in spite of it. My motives are for Mom and Dad to get the best care possible, and since they can't help themselves, I sacrifice my time, talents and personal comfort, at times to help them out. The alternative is neglect, and I can't do that. So, even though I incur Mom's wrath at times, I rest better at night knowing I've done the best I can for her. You will, too.

The road is not always smooth, and it's sometimes hard to find support and encouragement. This is a safe place to find both. I am praying the medical community you're dealing with will both help and support your Caregiving efforts, and help you find some way to reconcile with your Mom. I understand the tooth and nail defensiveness, and dealing with a bossy and stubborn mother. You can respond to her consistently, firmly, and lovingly, and will win her, with God's help. I'm praying and rooting for you. Take care.
SecretSister,
Well said. I too had to take the car and it was very difficult. We disabled it, and dad fixed it!! Sometime we are perceived as the bad guy, but it is what we have to do.
Linda
Unfortunely in my state our home care agencies do not get involved untill a person has been in the hospital and the social worker makes a request for home care and then an evalueation is made and then medicare only gives scant assistance and 911 came to our house about 50 times in 7-8 years and never reported that my husband was always falling plus the many times I picked him up or we called our son before I started calling 911 in other counties in our state after 3 times going to the same house a report is made there is a lot of head in the sand going on here-the neighbors could call APS but most do not-they do not want to deal with the family getting upset with them because many families do not want to deal with it and the families who do which is most people do not have any way to get help-we must speak up and roar when anyone is running for office and court your votes bring this subject up if your county does not do a good job with its elder folks. We have a great senoir center with modest day care fees and one lady was kicked out because she had cats and her clothes smelled and one neighbor complained to the center that now she was all alone and an employee said she was getting services and me and my big mouth said what kind of services and they could not answer my question at least we do have meals on wheels and have a great noon meal for anyone who can get to the center-as long as they smell allright that is, and a bus is provided in the morning to pick up alert folks and takes them home about 2pm so they do not have a too long day.
My boyfriend of 6 years has cared for his elderly parents in their home for many years. A little over a year ago we decided to move in together. We rented a large home in the city and brought his parents to live with us. They did in fact agree to the move, however when they are not having a good day, (and you know what I mean). They want to return to where they once lived and say we brought them against their own will, ( which is not true by any means). Their son takes very very good care of his parents and provides them with all their needs and more. I do as much as they allow me to do and whatever I can do to help my boyfriend with his parents. They are so fortunate to have him in their lives, however they dont see it that way and still feel that they can live on their own. Dads 84, and moms 85. Dad has had a pace-maker now for about 10 years also with other health issues. Mom suffered a stroke about 6 years ago and depends on a walker to get around also with other health issues. She wont allow me or her son to assist her with very much. She calls on dad to do absalutly everything for her. It takes him much time to acoumplish what she needs or wants (dressing her, preparing her meals, cleaning after, making the bed, keeping room clean, getting this, getting that) and it frustrates her at times because it takes him some time to accomplish this tasks. Dad will not be able to do this for much longer, but mom does not understand what she is doing to him. She has us to help her if she would only allow us to help more. She is a very stuburn lady. Dad can only hear with one ear and has a hearing aide. She is constantly yelling at him when he does not hear and gets very frustrated with him and he also gets frustrated at her. My boyfriend brought them to live in a very beautiful home. They accupy the master bedroom with fully loaded bath, (walk-in shower, private toilet, double sink, garden-jetted tub, steam shower) They only use the toilet, sinks and shower. They have a 40 something inch flat screen tv in their room and their closet is almost as large as the bedroom we accupy. My boyfriend took all of us on a 7 day criuse last year because he wanted his parents to experience something they had never done and would of never did if it wasnt for him and let me tell you it was not easy. Mom had to be transported on a wheel chair through most of the trip and a couple of times the private plane had steps and the bathroom trips were quite interesting. Some of the time we used a wheel chair for dad also, as long walks cause him pain. Just imagine 4 persons, 2 on wheel chairs with at least 6 bags/lugage. Thank God that everyone helped us in our cituation, getting on and off the bus, airline personal. We never complained once. His parents enjoyed every moment of this trip. But its like it never happened. They never seem to remember the so many things he does for them. My boyfriend loves his parents very much, I fell in love with them too. I dont have no problem with having them live with us. I just feel so bad because no matter what my boyfriend does it is never good enough for them. Just last week dad had a bad tooth ache, so we scheduled an emergency appointment to get two teeth pulled. Mom asked why we hadnt removed all his teeth and bought him dentures as we were planning to do soon. We told her dad was in alot of pain and needed them pulled out asap. We told her we were saving the money to do it and didnt have enough yet. They dont get alot from SS and couldnt afford it, plus they have no dentel Ins. So when they cant afford something, we pay for it. Mom wants things now, and it cant always be that way. Just yesterday, dad and mom had their Dr.s appointment. Mom said she wasnt going because we couldnt afford it, she was been sarcastic because we told her we didnt have enough money to get dad dentures yet. She didnt let us take her to see her Dr., so my boyfriend took dad and I stayed home with mom. As we always try to have someone around them in case of a fall or something else happens, and it has. Also when mom gets mad, she refuses to were her oxygen which she requiers 24/7. My boyfriend has to administer their medication because they cant remember what to take, how much to take and when to take it and cant remember if they allready took it. He has been doing this for a few years now. I have observed and seen how they treat him and how they talk to him so rudely and are not greatfull or thankful for anything he does for them. He loves them very much and does this because he knows they are not able to care for themselves properly any longer. He has basically had it with the way they treat him. They dont get very much money, we dont make that much money to afford a nice assisted living place for them, even if they wanted to go there. They just want to go back "home". And no, there has never been any other family member willing to help and there is no one now. Please help us with suggestions, answers or let us know of any help that may be out there. Tell my boyfriend what you would do if you were him. Thank You so much. The girlfriend

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support