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It is so sad and so frustrating. My Mom will never walk through their front door, she can't even stand up... all this due to a serious head injury when she fell in their home.

I can understand my Dad wants his wife back, she just turn 98 and the brain isn't going to repair itself, plus Mom had almost stopped eating 7 weeks ago except for a tiny bit of Boost or mashed potatoes.... she is now on hospice care. Today Dad said maybe if she uses a walker she can walk.... [sigh].

Any ideas on how to pave the way to making Dad understand what is happening, or should I just let him continue to believe that she will be coming home?

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GardenArtist, that broken shoulder was a blessing in disguise.... I got a break from my parents for awhile [pun intended].

I had to cancel all their doctor appointments because they were willing to wait until I could drive again... it was almost six months before I could turn the key and use the gear shift on my vehicle as it was still painful.

My doctor who knew what was going on with my parents said jokingly it was ok to wear my sling for the next several years around my parents :P

You'd think my parents would have learned from my experience that if something happened to one of them, like it did me, changes would have to be made. Like learn to use a taxi.... learn to use Peapod on-line grocery service on their own.... call repairmen to fix things... and get rid of that darn post office box as what is usually in the post office box isn't worth a $20 taxi ride.
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FF, sometimes it takes a real serious illness or injury for stalwarts to accept help. I can't imagine doing what you've been doing for your folks while battling that shoulder injury, so you definitely have my blessing for getting help!
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GardenArtist, I use to be one to say "no" if someone wanted to help... I think for me it is more out of shyness and feeling I can do it. But that changed when I had broken my shoulder, now even six months later I still say "that would be great, thanks" :) I find that people like to help and it makes them feel good, too.

I tried once to offer a cleaning service to my Mom which my Mom refused. Oh my gosh, if someone had offered me that chance I would have direction flags pointing the way to my house, I would be so happy :)
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I really do understand your mom's resentment that the helper was "following her" as she interpreted it. When you have a self image of being self reliant and self sufficient, it can cause resentment when someone tries to help.

I find myself having to resist saying something when someone wants to do something for me and my first thought is "I can do that myself. Do you think I'm disabled?" That happens more often as I age. Perhaps I'll get a dark colored wig and they won't be able to figure out how old I am and think I need help.

I also feel guilty accepting help. A few years ago I was battling about a 1 foot hardened pile of ice from the snow thrown up onto the driveway apron by the snowplow. A fellow in a truck with a plow stopped by, asked if I needed help, and I had to really resist saying "no, I can handle it." I did feel somewhat less self sufficient afterwards and uncomfortable about accepting help, but was relieved when he dispatched all that ice in about 5 minutes. It would have taken me close to an hour.

So I can understand how your mother feels. It's hard when you're self sufficient to accept help from someone.
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GardenArtist, I think you are right that my Mom could have fallen even if there were caregivers as one can hit the ground in an instant. Both 911 calls were when Mom had fallen in the kitchen preparing a meal, that is why I was thinking if there was a Caregiver, he/she would be doing the cooking, serving, and cleaning up.

Oh, I remember the first day my Mom returned from the hospital after her first fall and there was this very nice gentlemen who was filling in until the next caregiver could come...... he was shadowing Mom and Mom snapped at him "why are you following me?". Then she said to him if he wants to help go out and mow the lawn :P Later he was washing dishes and Mom didn't like that, that was HER job. I knew we were all getting onto Mr. Toad's Wild Ride that day !!
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All the answers are so wise and wonderful, I have nothing to add. So sorry you are going through this :(
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Windy, beautifully, emotionally, accurately but touchingly said.
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Lives are going to end . It's no one's fault, certainly not yours. I've been reading your posts for a long time and swapping Stubborn Parent stories with you. Trust me my good friend, you have nothing to feel guilty about. You and I, and many others, know full well the job you've done for your folks.
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Well if he's visiting her regularly, I guess he knows only too well what the score really is, and the 'she'll be home any day' mantra is how he's keeping his (any maybe her?) spirits up, wouldn't you think? In that case, don't go near it with a stick!

I shouldn't worry about the guilt. I should think your poor Dad has enough upset with the accident and the separation, and - blokes being what they are - I don't suppose he analyses his own feelings any more deeply than that. Is he showing signs of heightened anxiety, though?
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FF, I don't think any of us will ever know what your father is thinking, but I'm really hoping he isn't second guessing or blaming himself. It's not his fault. It's not anyone's fault.

From what you wrote, and from what others have written periodically, family dynamics and power balances work out between husband and wife, based on their own personal characteristics and needs. Your mother's strength might have been very appropriate for both of them. Assuming that's the case, your father probably wouldn't have been successful in insisting on in-home caregivers because your mother just didn't see the need for them.

I don't think your father would have been alone in recognizing that help was needed, as you did, but knew that your mother wouldn't agree. From my own experience and what I've read here, strong parents who aren't ready to slide into old age and the limitations inherent with it do fight to retain their strength (and control not only of their own bodies) as long as possible. I saw that with my sister, now with my father, and sometimes with myself.

I almost choke when someone asks me if I use a walker! I cannot even conceive of it at my age, and probably will fight it as I grow older as well. I'll be standing next to your mother in my resistance.

Honestly, I think your mother could have fallen even if surrounded by a dozen caregivers. Balance, hearing, eyesight, preoccupation, home environment are all factors. My father has even begun to fall when I've been walking right next to him. And I've fallen more than few times while doing lawn or garden work just b/c I'm more preoccupied with being outdoors doing something I enjoy than focusing on walking straight.

I think it's hard for people to let go of the "what ifs", or "I should have" concepts. It can only bring guilt or questioning. There's a certain element of life over which we have no control (look at how hard The Donald tries to control his unruly hair!) which I dislike, but I think that recognizing it and trying to move forward to embrace what time is left would be more helpful for your father.

As I recall, he also has some dementia, so it's possible he really wasn't up to the task of challenging your strong mother; he was fighting just for his own strength.

From what you've written, I really think that he's just not understanding her situation, or is in denial. I was certainly experiencing that with my mother and my sister, and it was a hard lesson to learn. Now I try to be more proactive and address issues as I see them, but that still doesn't mean that one day Dad isn't going to be down on the floor ... or maybe it will be me falling over the lawn mower again.
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Thank you all for your kind and good answers.... the Caregivers who are taking care of Dad do drive him daily to the long term care center to visit with my Mom, for as long as he wants.

I keep wondering if my Dad feels guilty and that is why he want Mom back home... guilty in the sense that he didn't stand up to her when she told all the Caregivers to leave after 3 days and not come back, she can take care of herself and her husband without their help. I think he knew differently, that they needed the help. Mom had always ruled the roost, what she says is what we all do. If the Caregivers were still there for her we wouldn't be having this conversation :(
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Is he expecting or is he hoping, can you tell? If it were me, if he were expecting something completely unrealistic, I'd be inclined to prepare him for a shock because otherwise he'll get blindsided and he'll never trust anyone again.

But if it's hope, if he's hoping and praying, I wouldn't want to snuff that out. I'd probably just say something like "let's hope for the best, eh - but you know, don't you, that the fall was a really bad one?"

So hard on everyone. Is he able to visit your mother?
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I too wish I had a good answer or suggestion; I don't. But in thinking over how my mother died, I wish we had had some inkling so that we could have said our goodbyes. We did have that with my sister, and it really made a difference in being able to say what we needed to say and be with her when she died.

The problem is complicated by recognition that your father may not understand or remember what he's been told, so it still may be a shock even if he does understand at one point.

I think though that I would try to explain to him, perhaps in increments so that it's easier to grasp than the larger issue of losing his life's partner. I would want him to be able to say what he wanted to say to her now, to enjoy her company to the extent possible, and not have any regrets.

I think the two overriding issues would be to gently present the facts to him and try to find a way that he can steel himself for her departure so that he doesn't look back and wish he had known before it happened.

Perhaps you can start with the fact that your mother won't be coming home. After he can accept that, you can address the fact that she suffered a serious head injury that can't be healed.....one step, one issue, at a time to make it easier for him.

It wouldn't hurt to bring the caregivers in on the issues so they can offer what assistance they might feel appropriate. From your description of them, they're very caring people.
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Oh FF I am so very sorry for you all. I wish I had a good answer for you.
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FF, I'm just so sorry you and your family are going through this.
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flyer - I agree with windyridge....let your instincts guide you. This is an awfully hard situation for your family right now - my heart goes out to you. My parents were married nearly 65 years. Mom had a colon infection - it spread to her heart and caused major damage - she passed within a 5-6 day period. Dad struggled with the helplessness of the unimaginable - in the beginning he had a hard time understanding that antibiotics weren't going to fix Mom (no matter how many times we discussed it with him). What really helped was that Mom's doctor sat with us and had a very frank discussion about what was happening and that there was really nothing that could be done. I think once Dad heard it directly from the doctor, he accepted that we needed to transfer Mom to the hospice wing at the hospital and begin the process of letting her go.

Mom passed away 6 months ago. Dad still has to talk through it occasionally - he wonders if the NP at the doctor's office failed to detect the infection,,,he speculates on what caused the actual infection,,,he sometimes blames himself for not recognizing that she was seriously ill sooner....(of course, I assure him it was not his fault..probably wasn't detectable...) - the truth is that Mom was 92 and had been in poor health for a long while. It was going to happen. Mom was his life partner and the love of his life - no matter how old and infirm, I just don't think he could believe that they'd ever be apart.

Sometimes when catch myself feeling sorry for myself that I've got the added weight of taking care of my father, I think about the tremendous grief he carries every day - that takes the wind out of my pity party sail.

It's a long, hard walk flyer - hold his heart and his hand gently - help him to understand and accept what is happening.
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I'm so sorry FF. Could your Dad go visit her or is that out of the question. I've always been a realist but in your Dad's case lying to him may be the best course of action. What have you been telling him? So sorry you are having to deal with this.
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FF, maybe you can turn it into a move near mom. "Why dad she might be able to manage in assisted living with YOU to help, let us find a small accessible place that the doctors will approve." If you can get him out of the house so you can cut back on 24 hour caregivers...who cares if he lives by the river of De-Nile (denial, get it?). Look how long he has lived there. Does he have dementia too? He may not understand.
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Flyer, this is so tough. I don't know how I would get my Dad to understand if Mom went into care or died suddenly. I would probably have to explain over and over agian that she was gone. I don't know that's there's an answer to this situation. Just take it as it comes. His reaction and your good instincts will guide you.
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I'm very sorry your family is going through this, FreqFlyer. My parents were divorced for many years when my father died, and my mother only wanted the death certificate so she could get a bump-up in her SS (by collecting his instead of her own), but it's very sad for you father who has been with your Mom for so long. So sorry...
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I imagine that it is harder on your father. My mother lost my father slowly, but yours lost his wife suddenly after the fall.
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This is so sad, ff. My mother also had a hard time accepting that Dad was slipping away from her. She thought maybe if he would eat better or drink more water that he would get better. I didn't know how she would ever make it without him. She did manage after he died, though I know it was sad for her. Sometimes they pull through better than we think they will, even through the grief. But life will never be as rich as it once was. The sad thing about having a long-time companion is ultimately losing them. But they were lucky to have each other for so long.
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