I care for my Mom (who is 85) and she lives in her own home (my Dad passed 6 years ago). My 64-year old brother lives with her (basically "keeping an eye" on her and providing companionship). He doesn't really have a lot of common sense -- she still does his laundry! I don't think he really would think of things a daughter thinks of (like proactively seeing that she eats right, getting her a cup of tea, anticipating her needs, etc. She does not have Alzheimers or any other form of dementia. She just old and getting a little confused -- like beginning to tell me something, then forgetting what she wanted to say. Stuff like that. It's heartbreaking but I try to be patient with her.
I take her to her doctor appts and she never wants to tell me (between doctor appts) what's going on with her. Her gait is very unsteady and she tells me she walks down the basement stairs BACKWARDS because she feels more steady doing it that way as she holds onto both railings. It's unbelievable!!! Of course, I get upset and tell her she shouldn't be doing that as she could fall. However, my warning falls on deaf ears. When she does fall, she makes my brother promise not to tell me so I don't get upset with her. She goes up and down the basement stairs because, again, she stills does the laundry --- she refuses to show my brother "how" to do it (meaning how SHE likes it done) and is convinced he "can't" do it. HE won't insist on doing it (or learning how to do it HER way) and he's always done what she tells him to do (or NOT do). Bottom line --- that mother/son dynamic will never change.
But here's my current situation -- she (of course) didn't want to tell me that her neck hurts. I will be taking her to her primary care doctor and I do go in with her when she sees him. I will make sure she/I mention the neck pain. She also has a pain in her shoulder/elbow (which was diagnosed as a rotator cuff tear). I think her neck pain is a result of her falling asleep while sitting on the couch and her head falling foward or to the side and then she gets a "crink" in her neck when she awakens. She dozes off a lot while watching TV (understandably --- she's 85!!).
She is not on any medications (other than a thyroid pill daily and oxybutynin for bladder spasms/leakage). I know this medication (the oxybutynin) causes mental fog and confusion/unsteadiness in the elderly, but she refuses to stop taking it. If it were me, I'd personally rather wear several pads and pee my pants before I'd tolerate the confusion/mental fog. She tried once to give up this medication but she said she hated wetting her pants all the time. Her decision -- her choice.
Her primary care physician is reluctant (and I agree) to give an elderly person narcotic medication for pain. She's previously taken ibuprofen and tylenol (on separate occasions) but it doesn't help her shoulder/elbow pain (and why would it -- she has a rotator cuff tear). Nothing will help a rotator cuff tear (I know because I've had that surgery) except surgery and that is out of the question at her age. At this point, only high doses of pain medication will midigate this pain but her doctor (and I) know that these forms of narcotics will only make her more confused, doped up and unsteady when she walks.
I guess I'm just venting here. I want to help my Mom be pain free but I know it's a losing battle. She's aging and she's fully aware that life (aches and pains-wise) is not going to get better. My sister is no help whatsoever. She lives closer to our Mom that I do, yet she rarely (and I mean RARELY) every goes over to see/visit her. Doesn't even call her (and yes, I've discussed this with my sister many times -- that Mom would just like a visit now and then). It's just sad. I wish she would be more involved but I know there's nothing I can do about it.
I'm trying to exercise and eat healthy and take care of myself. Hopefully, when I'm my Mom's age (if I'm so blessed to still be around) I won't be so dependent on my children. I'm trying to be there for her but it's so frustrating. Sorry to vent. Sigh.