What risks do your parents/spouse take that make you gasp?

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Today we took groceries over to my parents house. For the first time I saw my Mom [97] climb up on a short stool so she could put things in the freezer [refrigerator that has the freezer on top]. She has Dad hold open the freezer door while she rearranges things in there.

I can fully understand why my Mom would prefer to put away the groceries instead of Dad helping her.... Dad doesn't clue into the fact that the newer items go behind the older items so the older items get used first. No wonder she becomes The Flash when we bring in the groceries :)

But standing on a stool? Short one or not, to me that was a high risk for her. Yes, I tried Caregivers but Mom asked them all to leave... [sigh]. Mom is still of clear mind so there isn't much I can do for her. As Dad keeps saying "we can manage"... :P

What risks are you seeing in your own family?

21 Comments

OMG, where do I start? My father has always been a risk taker, but he's slowed down and restricted his activities a lot. Still, I worry, especially when he starts talking about undertaking a project that requires use of power tools, working in a workshop with no phone hook up and where he could easily be injured. Fortunately one of the neighbors watches him when she hears the shed doors opening.

Standing on a stool? I can beat that. How about standing in an unheated garage, on a step ladder, with one foot on the top step and the other on the hood of my car, to remove fluorescent lights from a garage? As each light was removed, the lighting became less, and as the last light was removed, well, there was no lighting at all other than the lantern I used as a spotlight. Given that the temps were in the teens, it was too cold to open the garage door.

I thought sure I'd have a heart attack before that was over.

I think there are really 3 factors involved: (1) not actually, or not wanting to, recognize that age has severely limited options to do work which is more dangerous now than ever, (2) need to prove oneself and (3) Depression Era mentality, by which you save and take things with you that aren't needed elsewhere.

It's been suggested to me that I do the same thing; some people don't understand why I still have a large garden - "turn it into grass! " (and increase the boring time mowing the lawn, increase the out of pocket cost of gas and oil, increase my carbon footprint through use of an outdoor gas appliance?).

But I do find it somewhat naïve if not insulting that someone passes judgments on my activities without really knowing what my goals are and what my underlying limitations must be. The assumption seems to be that I should curtail my activities even though I'm the best judge of my own limitations.

So I understand how my father feels.
I can see the limitations in myself and I'm only in my 50's, but there are some things I know I'm just not comfortable doing anymore. My next door neighbours are real sweethearts and they look out for me. This spring she mentioned to me that they noticed my eaves trough overflowing so he cleaned it out for me... oh, no trouble, he was doing theirs anyway, but he's in his 80's!!!
OK, GA, not surprisingly, you have stolen my opening line....my Mom will be 94 in November. As far as I can rememember, she has never sat still. Everyone in her condo (where she was able to live until 91+) called her " the energizer bunny". Mom has only 1 speed and it's "full throttle ahead".....She is exactly like her father. My most ingrained childhood memories involve us pulling up to the curb in front of GPA/GMA' s beautiful Queen Ann house and GMA coming out of the house, hands waving above her head, yelling to my Dad, " Jim......can you plz get Bill(85+) off the roof?" Well, GPA was 25 yo older
Mina, at 85 your grandfather was up on a roof? I thought my father was the only one who would do things like that. Do you have nightmares worrying him too?
Ah, GA.....Grandad is long gone now but YESss....he was on his roof at 85 and my Dad often had to convince him to come down. He was an incredible guy....25+yolder than GMA but he had an amazing energy and determination. Made the best root beer in a barrel, ever.....
Mina, I'm thinking that some of us who have parents and grandparents who are so exceptional in not allowing age to restrict them should write a book!

I would love to counter the perception so many people have of seeing older people as being prime candidates for bingo playing and sitting in wheelchairs watching the world go by.
My MIL and FIL were driving around. He "zoned out" i.e. suffered TIA's while driving. She has Parkinson's and couldn't drive his truck. Rather than park and call 911 for ambulance, she had him drive them home so that she could transfer him to her car and drive to nearest ER (which doesn't have a stroke unit, by the way). Before anyone recommends possible parkinson's cognitive decline - already brought up to husband and his brother. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.
We,, John, a friend, is 87 years old. He still shovels snow. The village will do it for $15 a time automatically after 3", but he won't pay it. He's a millionaire.

Sometimes there's no fixing stupid.

Your post made me laugh, Freq. that your mom has the optimism to have enough food in her freezer that she has to rotate it. Even I don't have that kind of freezer. And my GRAM, who was probably 91 at the time, once told me she didn't even buy green bananas!

Tell your mom Maggie said, "You go girl!!!"
Mom has gait issues, hideous balance and extreme muscle weakness. Cannot walk more than few steps without wall/counter grabbing or cane. Yet she insists on teetering up and down the basement steps umpteen times per day. Mostly for laundry. Laundry that her healthy sister always offers to do for her, but NO NO NO NO NO. (A mysterious amount of laundry, for someone who lives alone. And super-size jug of Shout like a centerpiece. Hello incontinence....right??) Mom's laundry ritual involves extra trips up & down the steps cuz her washer only agitates in one direction. When she hears a cycle change, she staggers downstairs to manually counter-agitate her 45-yr-old washer. And woe to anyone who makes the craaaazy suggestion that she replace the damn thing. Gives $300-$500 to her church every month, but "can't afford" a new washer. Oh, she also KNOWS that "it's not worth getting a new washer because the installer won't hook it up the right way." All this and she's a fortune-teller, too. Just shoot me.

I'm not wild about mom's use of knives, either. Her dominant hand is so gimped-up and unresponsive that she cannot write. But every time she wants to open a letter, she's waving the Farberware around like a ninja.
BlackHole, I thought I had problems with denial of limitations by an elder but reading your post about your mother going up and down the stairs really, truly, gave me the shivers.

I think there's a grace to growing old and accepting limitations, but some of our elders haven't found it.

How do you deal with the anxiety of what your mother insists on doing? I've spent many a sleepless night worrying.

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