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10 Secrets That Aging Parents Keep

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...and then after you have done all of the suggested steps plus some... after you have tried to talk to them about things like their safety, financial problems, end of life issues and they tell you it's not your business...after you have brought in elder care and set up services which they agree to at first but end up sabotaging...when they continue to put themselves at risk and expect you to make everything like it was before...then you let go and put them in Gods hands and get help for the guilt you are bound to feel.

Awesome article - thank you very much for the information. It helps me to keep my father safe. He has Alzheimer's and it's very difficult for me...

Excellent initial article.
Pbridges, I think involving adult protective services would be a good first move. They can at least tell you what legal options you have.
To all those caregivers out there doing the best they know how, have you all thought about how you want your old age managed. I urge everyone to give this much thought and put in place legal documents nominating a reliable caregiver for yourself. Above all don't extract unrealistic promises from your children and other relatives. ie "promise you will never put me in a nursing home" Most people do not want to do this but a disabled daughter needing help herself has no choice. if she is in a wheelchair she may be able to drive and do shopping but she can't turn someone or get them out of bed. It just makes sense to consult an eldercare lawyer and name a POA. Many caregivers are already "elderly" themselves, given the ages of the parents they are taking care of so make time for this very important task and yes I have done it.

This article is so on target. It is especially difficult when the adult children live far away and don't have the opportunity to see how their parent is doing. Sometimes having a third party as intermediary can help (just like teenagers think their parents don't know anything, the elderly can think the worst of their own children).


Thanks for posting this -- I had to repost on my blog...very interesting: I read this article and couldn’t help but think of how all sorts of technology (remote monitoring like GrandCare, Internet technology, etc) could help out with these 10 “secrets” shared in the story. Of course, technology is only one piece to the puzzle, but nonetheless, I think we are not quite at the point where technology comes right to mind when we are thinking about how to care for a loved one. It’s scary to think about caring for an aging parent and we have not grown up using technology in this way. It’s relatively new. Many of us have cared for children using all kinds of technologies (baby monitor, video monitor, bed monitor to detect SIDS, etc), but we don’t think to apply this to an obviously similar need among our aging parents. I get it, though, because although the caregiving process and stress can be similar to taking care of a child, it’s also a completely different beast when you consider that with children they grow more and more independent as you guide them to do more and more things on their own. With an aging loved one, the opposite will occur. It’s much easier to give more freedom, obviously, than taking it away. I can imagine that it would be difficult to be aging and have someone telling you that you cannot or shouldn’t do things anymore. Given this, we can’t be too surprised when a loved one may hide or cover up certain things. I even think about my own kids cleaning up a mess they make, BEFORE I see it to avoid punishment or having things be taken away. But how do we know when someone hides something? And what if it’s something that could be unsafe, unhealthy or potentially life-threatening? What steps could we or should we take to “get to the bottom” of things? How can we more closely monitor? How do we confront? I don’t know that there is an easy answer. I remember my parents having to “take away the keys” from my Grandpa. That was a hard day and it took him a while to get used to the loss of independence. It was the right thing to do (He was not even noticing if I passed him on the road and was repeatedly honking and wildly waving), but extremely difficult while obviously responsible…

The article lists 10 common things that people tend to “hide” or not reveal to those helping care for them. I started to think, are any of these things that could be helped with perhaps a telehealth wellness assessment system or perhaps a SKYPE visit or maybe a remote activity of daily living monitoring system. Below is the list and the ways that I believe technology could be of assistance…

1. Falls – - Technology can detect the actual fall itself, but even if they are not wearing anything…many technologies like GrandCare could alert a family member if they were not “up and about” as usual.
2. Pain – - So obviously technology can’t tell you WHAT they are feeling emotionally or physically, but can give you hints on it. For example, you could have SKYPE visits with a loved one and “see” how they are doing. Systems like GrandCare also have touch-based assessments that the loved one can fill out every day. People tend to be more comfortable telling a machine how they are feeling, versus “complaining” to their family. It can be a helpful resource and indicate if pain levels are there, swelling, happiness, etc. Activity Systems like GrandCare could also portray if a person was moving less than usual, which might be a good indication of a potential problem or pain.
3. Dizziness – - can be caused by many things such as low blood pressure or medication noncompliance…these things can all be remotely monitored by a tele-wellness system like GrandCare. GrandCare has several wireless, bluetooth enabled blood pressure, weight scale, pulseox, glucometer devices that can indicate a potential wellness issue. The medication dispenser could send out an alert if the meds were not accessed.
4, 5, & 6. Money Shortages, Frivolous Purchasing, Financial Abuse – - I put these together because I think they can be managed together. Technology is of great assistance as caregivers can check bank accounts, checks and credit card statements online. Not to mention, one of GrandCare’s initial goals was to help mitigate tele-marketing scams (the co-founder’s mother had an investment banker in Sun City West, AZ scam her, which gave a huge wake up to the entire family). GrandCare has a caller-ID sensor that can alert family members or primary caregivers of unusual, repeated incoming calls, etc. to help stop SCAMS!

7. Elder Abuse – - there are several factors to take into account with elder abuse. It can be very difficult to diagnose this, but technology systems in place can help. Technology can play a big role when determining neglect (caregiver is NOT arriving when they should be, patient is not being “turned”, fridge is NOT being accessed during mealtime, etc). SKYPE is a great way to “see” into the home and look into a loved one’s eyes to really determine what might be happening…

8. Auto Accidents or Driving Infractions – - Although technology won’t play much of a role with determining whether or not a loved one has gotten a ticket or driving infraction, it can share information about how your loved one is behaving in general. Is he/she wandering (could be indicative of sundowners, dementia or even seizures), is he/she complying with medications, eating regularly, normal vitals? sleeping well? All of these factors can help to give a bigger picture idea of what’s happening behind closed doors and allow family members to make educated, healthier and smarter decisions for a loved one.

9. Alcohol or Drug Abuse – - Again, technology can really give a better overall indication that all is well or not well at home. Eating/sleeping patterns, vitals, daily behaviors can help to give an educated view on what might be happening in a loved one’s life. In severe cases, it could be possible to use a monitoring system to monitor access to the liquor cabinet.

10. Gambling – - technology can help to assess when a loved one leaves the home and if they have their GPS enabled Cell phone, shoes or watch, a worried caregiver could be notified if they leave a designated perimeter (mostly used for wandering, dementia, etc)

Granted, there are many other (additional) ways to detect and mitigate these 10 secrets, but I wanted to note that there are some assistive technology solutions out there that are designed to enable a caregiver (call it a super caregiver) to become more aware (even if they don’t live close by) of how a loved one is doing. Because after all, that’s what we all desire – for our loved one to be safe, be able to stay home (if that’s where he/she would like to be), stay virtually connected/socialized and continue to go about normal daily activities. These technologies were created so those four things could easily, instantaneously happen!

Umm, there are more secrets.

1. They have bought long term health care insurance with some fine riders, but they are afraid for anyone to know because it might mean off to the assisted living or nursing home they go when they have been paying through the nose for riders like home health care and home builder care. Instead they hire someone cheap like my mom and step-dad did followed by the loss of money due to forgery which at first they did not want to believe.

2. Hiding past due taxes which they were great at from 2004 until a newer helper informed me of an IRS letter in 2009.

3. Hiding how sloppy their handling of bills are.

Step-siblings will sometimes hide these things from others as well.

Siblings like my mom's sister will not intervene by telling an adult child that taxes are not being paid which they then excuse as not being their place. Dam, my aunt sure is dumb!

These are the only ones which come to mind from my own experience which may or may not be like others, but this list of 10 does not apply.

I wish I could help you. I have the same problem except I never got to the point of being able to set up the electronic accounts. My 90 year old mother who is still quite functional in many ways "accused" me of "cheating" her at the point of preparing the accounts so I could make computer transfers so I stopped midstream and now who knows how she is paying anything if anything at all?? I stepped in only after she accused my younger and trustworthy sister of "stealing" which devastated us all. I, being the oldest was the last hope and now I too stand accused so I am sure the identify theft I caught earlier of over $6,000 continues. I am looking forward to reading the advice given to you because my mother has shut each of her only four daughters who care and love her unconditionally completely out of her life....hanging up when we call or very cold and brief uninviting us when we tell her we are coming to visit. I never dreamed my mother would "reject" each of us so vehemently given the loving care she used to give us all. It is very painful and dangerous because we all know she needs our "assistance and support" however she refuses to allow us into her life and when we "force" ourselves in she rants and raves to the extent others in her senior housing think we are causing her emotional harm. We've approached her doctor who "tried" to administer a dementia test at which point she went into a rage and refuses his care any longer. We feel helpless "watching her decline" and being so vunerable to outsiders but feel at a lost over next steps so I anxiously await a response to your question??

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My question is the following: I transfer money into my mother's checking account each month, ( no check involved, just a com puter $$ transfer)and at least once per month she tells her neighbors I am taking that money OUT of her account, in essence stealing from her. I have ogn eover this again and again, having her do the math to porve there is more money not less money in her account after the transfer. She says she understands, and then calls the neighbor over to complain that I am STEALING from her again. How can I convince her otherwise and why does she distrust me so? No silbings to help me. I am also in the caregiving.I am very generous with my time, affection and money to make her happy.