My grandparents will not accept help and there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Should everyone back off?


My grandparents can barely walk with walkers, they're in constant pain, they have a ton of family members breathing down their necks telling them what they should do but at least we got my grandmother on anti anxiety meds (that only helps so much). Everyone is wearing themselves out helping my grandparents but it just angers them. We can't even convince them to let someone meet with them for an hour just to discuss the idea of getting some profession in home care. Before I was supportive of everyone helping but I've changed my attitude. Now I feel my grandparents (and everyone for that matter) are so stressed and upset that everyone needs to just back off. Will one of them end up in the ER or worse--yes. Will their lives be easier if they had prof. help--yes. Will they accept help--NO a hundred times over. I feel they need love in the form of good conversation and distraction from the topics of health and death. What is the right thing to do? Force them to get help when they're already furious or back off? The entire, huge extended family is miserable at this point. How can we help my grandparents move on gracefully? (they don't qualify for hospice just yet but they did come by one day)

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I agree that everyone should back off. People like your grandparents often feel bullied by all of this pushing. They may eventually agree to some help if they are given what you mentioned - loving attention and distraction. If they feel free to make their own decisions they may become more reasonable.

I also agree that if they aren't too resistant to wearing personal alarms to call for help that would be a step forward. Because of all the pushing in the past, they may even refuse this for awhile, but in the future you could gently mention that this form of help is non-intrusive and possible so that you'll set it up if they decide they want it. To me the magic words are "they decide."

I know it's hard to watch this and not try to fix it, but human dignity and the ability to decide for oneself is important. Good luck to you all,
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Dear KAT, I have been in your shoes and I backed off. I only visited to spend quality time with them (although I checked the bathrooms, medications and fridge and sneak cleaned without them seeing). I would bring a box of danish and listen to stories, and I worried terribly but never judged them. The house was dirty, my parents barely walked but they had a pantry full of food (I did help my mother bathe as my father was too feeble to do it.) But I told them this---I will call you every day and you must answer the phone and chat with me. I will call several times a day if you dont answer, so please make sure to pick up the phone if you hear its me (they screened calls of course.) I could not make them use a life alert and my father tried to cover up that he was in great pain. So every day I would call. Yes, it can interfere with your own plans but everyone has a few minutes to call and check on someone every day. My mother would even fall asleep muttering about what she saw on tv or ate for lunch while I was on the line! But one day they didnt answer, and the next day they didnt answer and I called the local police who got in the house and found they had both fallen. So they went to the hospital and nursing home, never to return to the house they loved. But they were together, and there was no destruction of the family---we all came together after the fall to tend to them. We all loved them and there was anger from some family members that we didnt make them leave the house and force them to go into assisted living. I did try reporting their living conditions (Aging Agency can do nothing unless evidence of a parent is abused and Police can do nothing either.) So, sad as it may be, let your loved one live as they wish to live and just make sure that you can be the life alert that they need. Go see them and tell them you love them. Meals on Wheels if they cant cook anymore is a great way to know they are getting food and someone sees them Monday thru Friday, if you cant. They may like that. Check and see if they would like a ride with you to a nearby Senior center for a program or perhaps see a show at a nearby venue. Volunteer to go with them to doctors appointment. Bring them favorite foods or just chicken salad from the grocer to put on crackers and share with them. Make your time with them meaningful to them. You can force them legally (which costs $$$$) and they will be angry and not talk to you or you can let them live until something happens, and you will be part of the support team afterwards. And your family will always be divided on what to do so dont think you can please everyone. You would be better off having a family meeting with everyone but your grandparents and try to agree on options that best assists the grandparents without usurping their freedom to chose. Then move forward to have a friendly, no pressure, talk with them about how they are loved and family is worried about them. No drama, just lots of hugs (Biggest important detail is POA and Medical POA but that will be another time!)

My regrets are that I kept trying to force my father to do what his poor body couldnt do and that I didnt share what was happening to him. It was his life and he was scared and in pain. He needed compassion, empathy and the dignity to chose what he wanted for himself and for my mother. That was the greatest kindness I could have given him. May you find a decision that puts you at peace.
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The counselor and you agree. Back off, force them to realize they cannot function alone. Hopefully they will then agree to Assisted Living. If they already spoke to Hospice, then they are not afraid of dying, just afraid of giving up their home. If they don't want 911 calls, that's OK, just make sure you have advanced directives signed, so you are not liable. They have the right to refuse further medical poking and prodding, just have them sign the DNR.
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I understand from your description that they have mobility and pain issues. If they are feeling bullied or pushed around by too many children and grandchildren, some backing off is required.

I would imagine their is one or two children are grandchildren who have the respect of your grandparents (Perhaps their "favorite son or daughter"). Inlaws need to really back off as help needs to come from the children --same with advice.

Let things cool off, then have the "favorites" visit to make sure medications and doctor visits are being handled. If they are on walkers they need help with these things. Make sure they are eating well. Get someone to clean for them. See how they do alone.

The favorites should talk to them in unrushed visits about what they want to do. Take them out to eat, to church not just medical trips. Reduce their loneliness and sense of isolation.

Always remember the elderly know they are losing ground. At 45 yrs old, people think they should be exercising more, doing this or that, but the 45 year old has no idea the pain they are feeling.

In the short run, less is more. Be guided by what they want done for them.
As time goes by, they will realize what help they need.

Good luck.
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KAT, for crying out loud. Tell your family to get off their backs. My mom is 82 and unsteady on her feet. She still works in her garden every day. Heaven help a weed. If mom dies in her garden, she will have a smile on her face and I will call her blessed. If your grandparents are ok with a emergency alert system, this should be enough. If they can manage their meds, and are eating right and are of sound mind, leave them alone.
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Agree: back off. Sometimes it takes an ER visit to make folks realize they need help.

Instead try to think of ways to help them maintain their independence, without criticizing or inferring they can't take care of themselves.

It's hard to recognize that our brains and bodies are declining - it can be a denial situation until something happens and they become so scared they reach out.
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Yes, back off, for all of the good reasons given above AND that you already know. The point is, that while your grandparents do need help, the family is not helping. So stop.

Make sure each of your grandparents knows who to call if he or she has a change of heart, or if there is an actual emergency - this could be either a social worker, or ONE agreed-upon family member who is available most of the time. Ideally arrange for the number and name to be prominently displayed near the phone.

Gosh, I hope your large family is also the type that can agree on one spokesman? Fingers crossed.
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Kristen, I agree that a Life Alert system would set everybody's mind more at rest - KAT, if you were to point out to your grandparents that this would also make everyone GO AWAY and give them a bit of peace, do you think they might agree?

Making the house as safe as possible - although I agree it is desirable, of course - is a much thornier issue. I'm guessing that sweeping into their home and meddling with their possessions is exactly the kind of thing that makes them see red and chase everyone away, brandishing their walking sticks and yelling "and don't come back!" Tread extremely carefully. It's their house, their lives, not yours.
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People born in the 20's, 30's and 40's were a very independent lot. Many grew up in rural areas and cared for crops and livestock. They took pride in their independence. My dad was one of those farm folk. He refused help, although he had the early stages of dementia. I finally convinced him to sign power of attorney over to my sister so she could handle his financial affairs. What she discovered was appalling! If we hadn't intervened, he would have died in that house, filthy as it was, without utilities. She took him to live with her, where he had a new lease on life. His health improved, he was happy, surrounded by loving family on a ranch where he could garden, dig in the dirt and do all the things he loved. He was given free run of the ranch until his dementia got so bad he had to be put in an assisted living situation. I have a friend who's in her 70's and lives alone on her 100 acre spread, complete with livestock. She cares for the place by herself and wouldn't have it any other way. She said when she's too old to function on her own, she plans on wandering off into the wilderness to die alone in her beloved woods. I fully expect in 15,20 or 25 years from now, when I come out to visit her on one of my frequent trips, I won't be able to find her anywhere. I'll know she's gone because the goats won't have been milked and the dog's food dish will be empty. I'll arrange a search party and we'll all look for her, but she won't be found.
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If they are in chronic pain, they are irritable to start with, I imagine. I think your stance as you presented it is very wise. I will tell you a scenario that worked for me in case you can try it later, but it had to do with helpful chores that I was willing to do myself.
My mother's "significant other" beau needed but refused help...I would sometimes force the issue if it was something like cleaning up outside, where his own adult children just always backed off. He lived in a retirement community, so he coudln't just ask or pay some local teens to do this kind of work. In his case it was pride that made him refuse, but I found if I went ahead, he accepted the help gladly. (He put up a grouchy, tough front.) I made sure HE directed what was done...I was just the "worker", so he felt he had control. This won't work with every one but may work with some. But I agree with the others, a "cooling off" period is necessary for everyone in your case...just maybe let your grandparents know that you will provide help if they direct what they want done. They may come around, but if not, it seems you have done what you can. They just want some peace.
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