My Dad is 85 and is physically in good shape without any serious mobility issues, but his memory is starting to fail. He can't finish a task (including driving to the store) without pausing several times to remember where he's going or what he's doing. He sometimes gets lost while driving, although his actual behind-the-wheel skills are still good for the most part. He often doesn't remember having talking about something only a few minutes after discussing it. Sometimes I'll have to answer the same question 5-6 times if we're having a longer conversation about a topic.
My mom is 80 and she has epilepsy, COPD, and a recent hip replacement surgery. She is unable to walk, or communicate more than a few words. She can feed herself and use the bathroom by herself if she has help getting to it but she's dependent on my dad for all of her care. She gets winded with any kind of physical exercise.
They live at home and the past few months I've become less and less comfortable with their situation. The house is more disorderly than I've ever seen it, with boxes and piles of stuff sitting untouched since they moved a year ago. In addition to the one working TV, there are two flat screen TVs in the living room that my dad says he doesn't know where they came from. He swears that the salesman let him take one home to try it out, and now he can't remember what store he thinks he's supposed to return it to.
My mom looks like she hasn't had her hair brushed in months. Neither one of them seem like they have clean clothes to wear. They eat sandwiches from Jimmy John's or microwave dinners from the market down the street. My dad doesn't feel comfortable driving much further than that. I don't know when the last time either one of them went to the doctor.
When I call them out these things, he insists that he is handling everything and that they don't need any help. He has an explanation for every single one of these "red flag" senior behaviors, and there just isn't any convincing him that he needs help.
They both hate the idea of my mom going into a nursing home. She would be miserable there and she would treat the employees there terrible. Name-calling, cursing, throwing food, the whole nine yards. She's frail so she doesn't pose a threat but she is the world's worst patient. She is much happier at home, and my dad is much happier having her home so he can do the best he can to take care of her. If she were in a nursing home where he had to visit every day, it would quite literally kill both of them.
My main concern is that something will happen to my dad in the house, and my mom will have no means or ability to contact anyone and ask for help. She can't pick up the phone and dial it and explain what happened to the person on the other end.
What I think they need is to be in an assisted living facility with part time care for my mom. What I don't want to happen is for my mom to be forced into a nursing home because a caregiver determines that she's receiving inadequate care - which she probably is.
I am feeling lost and overwhelmed and not at all sure what the right thing to do is. Any advice is appreciated!
It sounds like Dad has dementia. Obviously we can't diagnose that from a paragraph online, but the signs are there and both Mom and Dad should have a thorough medical examination.
What about bringing help into the house? Maybe a "morning helper" to help them dress and start the day? Sounds like they can use a bath-aide to help them shower or bathe a couple times a week. Laundry help. Housecleaning. One by one bring in the services to keep them at home.
Would Mom be able to understand how and why to use a medical alert bracelet?
If Dad does have dementia, it will get worse, and he will be less and less able to care for himself, let alone for his beloved wife.
The long term solution is placement in an appropriate facility. (It won't kill them, I promise, especially at the point they really need it.) But to extend the period they can be home as much as possible, start getting them used to in-home help.