How do I get my parents to call me with problems?


My parents have recently started having health issues and refuse to call me (only child). I have begged, screamed, cried and they always agree they will and then don’t. I have 3 kids and a stressful job so they are so worried about bothering me, but of course I would help them anytime no matter what. In fact, it is harder when they don’t call because inevitably I will have to bail them out of some situation. My mom (71) has developed severe memory issues and now has diverticulitis and may need surgery. My dad (90) is trying to be the caregiver and is stubborn and secretive. He has fallen a few times and will not tell me or ask me for help. In fact, he called his 80 something brother to ask for help rather than me. I fussed, we all cried and my dad said he will call me from now on. Of course, I am the one who will have to take care of it anyway because my uncle can’t. How can I get them to ask for help? Even more importantly, how do I start talking to them about living in assisted living? I fear for their safety this point. Thank you so much in advance for your help! I love them so much and want them to be well!

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insanseonlychild: You're not alone! Most, bordering on all, elders do not want to bother their adult children. And why? Because they're afraid they will lose their independence. Here's one suggestion I used for my late mother--I call her, she doesn't say hello...for 5 she's passed out on the floor (demanded to live alone 400 miles away from me), she finally speaks...I say why didn't you say hello...she said "I was getting situated"...I say the next time that happens I will have to assume that you fell on the floor and I will have to have the police come and break your door down.
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This is a frustrating situation. My mother will have a need and instead of calling one of us, she "prays" that someone will stop by. Having said that, she LIVES in my brother's home. They don't interact everyday, he works weird shifts and his wife does not really speak to mother (it's been 20+ years and the stress of mother being there has been too much for my SIL). More than once I have showed up w/o calling (she can't use her phone anyways) and she'll be crying and saying "I have been PRAYING for days that you would come up!" I used to get a little angry and say "Mother, I know you don't KNOW my phone number, and you can't dial the cell phone, nor answer it, but there are SEVEN people (all adults) living in this house. You couldn't get the attention of ONE of them??" She does like the drama, so maybe it's that.

BTW, it's never anything serious. Usually just a scrip she needs picked up, or a bill she can't figure out.

I WISH mother would accept moving to an ALF. She would be so much happier. But brother kind of has her in lockdown....something weird is going on there, but I can't figure it out. She gets out 2 times a week and the rest is spent looking out the window at the neighbors.

I've HAD the "talk" with mother to simply accept 2-3 times a week in home help--brother talked her out of it. She's unhappy and I can't do anything more than I do.

Hopefully your parents would be amenable to tour a few homes and see what they have to offer. Fear, change, new people..all those things are so daunting for the elderly whose comfort zones can shrink mighty small.

Take it slow. I made the mistake of kind of bombarding mother with options and she freaked out. If you can take it slow and let your folks guide the process--in the end, it will be their idea and a much smoother transition can take place.

SO hard to be proactive--most folks want to take the "let's wait and see" approach....and that can be pretty gruesome.
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Be careful what you wish for!

For my in-laws, the assisted living conversation started by me personally finding an independent living building where they would have much-needed services at their fingertips like meals, exercise and assorted therapists on premises, housekeeping, a la carte in home assistance as needed, and social and educational activities. They balked and insisted "We're fine!" (They were NOT fine and I was losing my mind and my health.)

Anyway...I called this place up and asked about respite care. We called it camp and it was for one month. They came back pretending like it never happened and expecting to never hear another word about them moving to indy living. I can laugh about it now but at the time, it was anything but funny.

Rather than drop the subject, we brought it up every single time we saw them. Yes, they got pissed off with us but we no longer could allow them to stick their heads in the sand and not deal with reality. We approached them with statements like "This is a matter of your safety and our peace of mind" and "You have run out of room for grab bars."

They finally gave in when they realized that we were not going to enable them to live independently and dangerously anymore expecting that we would drop everything every time they needed help.

Start having "the talk" now. Be prepared for pushback. Start researching communities. Plan for a respite stay. Plan the move. Help them downsize during a reasonable amount of time; for us that was about six weeks. Once the move is done, step back and let your parents settle into their new life.

My MIL (now deceased) loved her new home; my FIL accepts it. My husband and I have peace of mind that my FIL is getting everything he needs; his social life is his business and he has made friends. I am 100-percent certain that my in-laws had a much better quality of life together at indy living than they had in their home. Good luck!
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It took me many years to see the light on this one, so I hope to save you some of the frustration and heartache involved.

When your parents say they don't want to bother you, the truth of it is - they don't want you to bother them.

I know how it feels, I'm very sorry for it. Get them all the information and as many contact numbers as you can for assistance services and agencies, but remember that you cannot force help on them.
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My situation with my elderly parents is very similar. Long story short, I gave up on asking, begging etc or thinking they would ask for help when things got bad.

Even without dementia most elders don’t have good executive reasoning skills by the mid to late 80s. I realize now that no amount of arguing or trying to reason with my mom, who runs the show, will have any effect.

I’ve learned to read between the lines when I talk to her on the phone and make a long trip every few weeks to get an eyeball on things.

A crisis will eventually end their independence and I’ll step in and do what has to be done. That may be in home help or facility care. This is the reality for so many caregivers. Save the angst, tears and fights, do for them what they will allow and wait them out. If you see an opportunity step in.
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They may not tell you because although they love you they also know you want them to move into assisted living and they would rather age/die in place than consider that option. Just saying when you are trying to make decisions for others that is not what they want for themselves they may choose to not tell you rather than argue and defend their decisions with you.
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Is there a way that they would allow you to place cameras in their home so you can monitor them?
Do your parents belong to a church group or other group that might have a volunteer that could check on the 1 or 2 times a week.
Do they have a neighbor that you could pay to "pop in" once or twice a week to check on them...ask if they need anything from the store..any excuse to check in.
Would they be eligible for Meals on Wheels? Having someone come in daily to deliver a meal would also get someone checking in on them.
do they have any other health issues that might qualify them for Hospice? That would get someone in a few times a week to help out.
Is your Dad a Vet? The VA has programs that might help, someone that would come in to help on a regular schedule so you would know someone is at least checking in on them on a routine basis.
Unfortunately it sometimes takes a catastrophe to set things in motion.
One concern is if your Dad falls how will your Mom summon help if she has memory issues? I know this is probably one of the discussions that you have had.
the services that you can use to summon help only work if the person knows how to use it. With memory issues someone will not know how to press the button.
I am sure some of the discussion you have had is the possibility of moving to a Memory Care facility or at least Assisted Living. I almost hate to bring this up but if you truly think it is a danger you may have to resort to getting Guardianship and removing the decisions from their hands. Tough call and a very tough decision. I don't know if you could use that as "leverage" in trying to get your Dad to call you when there is a problem.
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You know your parents the best, of course, but I have to wonder when you fuss, beg, scream and cry when you approach them if they’re just agreeing to do as you ask so you don’t self-destruct in front of them. I understand how stressful this is for you. My mom was the same way; constantly falling, losing things, etc. I would become angry too, but I got a lot farther with her when we’d sit down and calmly discuss our options.
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I got my parents to move near me by telling them they were killing me with stress. If your folks are trying to "protect" you, if you can keep reinforcing that they've raised a caring daughter who is going to care about them and worry about them whether they like it or not, then maybe they'll listen.

I also could get my dad to do things by telling him he worked hard and "deserved" to be taken care of in his old age. Maybe something like that would work as to why they should move into assisted living? Mom "deserves" to be taken care of...or dad has worked hard all of his life and deserves some help taking care of mom? Good luck and keep us posted.
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You contact the doctor and they will have to sign a disclosure form - then you can learn from the doctor's office about medical concerns.

You're not going to change your parents - mine were the same way. The only reason my dad finally disclosed everything is because I had to take him to the doctor and had to go in with him after my mother passed.
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