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Has anyone dealt with an parent who stays in bed for hours or days at a time? My father does have arthritis in his knees and back and walks with a walker. I understand that walking can be painful. However, his way of dealing with it many days is to take prescribed painkillers (hydrocodones and oxycodones have both been prescribed by his neurologist) and remain in bed. He wears Depends due to periodic incontinence and will often stay in bed until they are soaked. He also has bedside urinals so he does not have to leave his bed to urinate. Bowel movements are infrequent. (Sorry TMI.) I do suspect he is depressed which also contributes to...everything! He lives in the house with my husband and me.


He goes to PT to assist him with strength to get out of bed or up from a chair. Doctors and therapists have encouraged him to move even though it may be painful as they have cautioned him about muscle atrophy.


Most days, he sleeps all day and is difficult to rouse which seems to be making his eating habits irregular. He often will yell or call one of us on the cell phone (even though we may be across the hall or two rooms removed from his) to ask us to bring his meals to him. I know he is probably hungry...but I often feel more like a maid than a daughter. He also told a priest who came to our house at my request to serve him the Eucharist that he often went "days" without eating because we wouldn't feed him. I didn't say anything in front of the priest, but after the Father left, I reminded my dad to say that he was not being fed would imply we had no food in the house which wasn't true. He just expects someone to fix even the most basic of meals and bring it to him.


I don't want him to be hungry, but I feel as if we are enabling him and also contributing to making him bedridden when there is really no reason for it. I question the amount of opioids prescribed, but both his cardiologist and his family practitioner are aware of the prescriptions made by the neurologist.


We have a wheelchair, and he could well-afford a motorized wheelchair. However, he just seems to prefer to be in bed.

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Ruthie the type of depression that arises from chronic heart disease and stroke, and their strong correlation with vascular dementia, is not reactive - i.e. a natural response to his shrinking world - but endogenous - i.e. the result of faulty brain chemistry and function, unrelated to external factors. It is a depth of crippling misery that is *disproportionate* to his circumstances, and very hard to comprehend if you haven't experienced or at least witnessed it before yourself. With my mother, this then progressed to another classic feature called "flat affect," when there is no emotional response of any sort to pleasant or unpleasant stimuli.

If you are reasonably certain, or strongly suspect, that this could be a factor, then I think you should tell his PCP so because it's a game-changer. At the moment your father is reluctant to share his full medical history with you, which makes it extremely difficult for you to support his care effectively - how can you, if you're kept in the dark about so much?

I appreciate that without your father's consent his doctors can't share information with you. But you can share information with them; and as his primary caregiver you are certainly entitled to jump up and down, make a fuss, and insist that someone gets a properly co-ordinated, holistic care plan together. At the moment there are so many failures in communication that the situation is impossible; and *among* them all, with no individual practitioner taking the lead, they are neglecting his needs. Get ugly!
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if he doesn't move, the arthritis worsens. in the long run, pain decreases with regular movement. also, the opiates he's taking can cause a bowel obstruction if he's just lying there. He needs physical therapy and probably occupational therapy. if he just lies in bed he's at risk for a pulmonary embolism
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ruthie1460 Jun 16, 2019
Both PT and OT have evaluated him and say he needs neither. He’s well aware he is a “candidate” for a PE. His way of dealing with bowel issues is to take laxatives...often too many too close together...which leads to other issues. All I can say is my husband is a saint as he bears the brunt of cleaning up afterward.
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Im 64 and right there with you on the osteoarthritis evrry where!!! And yes i will move because thats what keeps me sane even tho it hurts like heck😊😊
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According to the OP's profile, the father is 85 years old and, in addition to the joint pain from his arthritis and the pretty heavy-duty painkillers he is px'ed, he suffers from heart disease and has had a stroke.

So, I expect he does prefer to be in bed, yes. I think I would, too. Leaving aside the pain and the drug side-effects, it is quite possible that he is dealing with extreme fatigue, depression, loss of initiative (in a clinical sense), and dementia. The man is not malingering.

When you questioned the amount of opioids, what was explained to you about the risk-benefit calculation being made? Were you satisfied with what you were told?

Is your father's PCP able to help you develop a holistic care plan that takes all of your father's needs into account?

Has any of his doctors suggested that a hospice evaluation might be appropriate?

Whatever you do - and I promise you I do understand the sheer frustration of trying to support someone who just won't respond or co-operate, especially when they seem to if it suits them - please don't blame him for things. Not for what he said to the priest; and actually it was the priest you should have explained the reality to, not your Dad, to whom what he said seemed true. Not for his disorientation about times and meals. Not for his seeming apathy, and his indifference to normal standards of hygiene and basic self care. He is literally sick and tired.

I hope your PCP will help, but in any case what you want is a complete review of his complex conditions so that you end up with a clear, realistic care plan that takes everything properly into account. Do you have any regular support with his daily care?
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Ahmijoy Jun 16, 2019
I agree. OP does need to have an honest conversation with her father’s PCP to decide if in-home care by untrained family members is feasible. If Dad is at the point where he is so ill and compromised he cannot make it to the table for his meals or in fact out of bed at all for anything, he is not where he needs to be. In fact, I’d suggest Hospice in a facility.
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My mom stayed in bed. She'd get up around 7pm to drink an Ensure and other than trips to the bathroom a couple of times a day she never got up. She had had cancer but it had been removed. There was nothing wrong with her physically. Knowing that an elderly person can't lay in bed all day because it is so detrimental to their health I begged my mom, literally begged and pleaded with her to get up. I tried to reason with her, I tried getting angry at her, my dad tried, my brother tried. It's like she was lost to us. Her sister would screech at me, "Just MAKE HER get up!" How? Drag her dead-weight body from the bed? Sit her up in a chair? She was losing strength everyday she stayed in bed. She became barely able to walk. She began to fall when she would get up and it was on one of these falls that I called 911. As a result of staying in bed almost constantly her electrolytes became imbalanced and were affecting her heart. She died in the hospital soon after.

You can't drag your dad out of bed anymore than I could have dragged my mom out of bed but if he has the chance to walk again insist that he come to the table for meals. Don't take him his meals. It might not be too long before you will have to bring him his meals because of the damage done to his body by not getting out of bed.
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If your father is at all mobile, you do need to make up your minds to stop enabling him. He doesn’t need to “shake his tail” to get up and out of bed because he has you to tote and fetch for him. I have arthritis everywhere he does plus in my shoulders,wrists and fingers, plus fibromyalgia. I find that moving around is helpful for the aching. If I sit on my bum for hours at a time, I’m stiff and sore.

its quite possible Dad is over medicated. He’s on some heavy hitter meds, meds that should only be used for a short time. The meds are most likely constipating him. If he is not following a good diet or not eating much, that also complicates things. As far as telling the priest you’re not feeding him, well, he wasn’t going to tell Father that he’s lazy and won’t get out of bed. However, priests are mandated reporters, so he may be required to report what Dad said to APS.

If Dad’s doctors and therapists say he needs to get up and move, you need to accept that as well. No more meals brought to his room. Warn him 10 or 15 minutes before meals are served so he can get up out of a chair or his bed, use the facilities and come to the table. If he requires help from you to do this, of course you will be there. But he will come to the table. He will eat his meals with you or stay hungry. He won’t let himself starve. Gentle reminder that “supper is in about an hour, Dad. It’s your favorite meatloaf!” might help. Help him look forward to eating with you. Try some lively discussions st the table. Make it a fun and interesting place to be. Moving around will help him defeat his depression, too

Tell him that you will always be there to help him and keep him safe, but he needs to help himself or you may have to talk about other living arrangements.
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lealonnie1 Jun 16, 2019
Spot on response, love it!
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