10 years ago my parents brought my aunt, my Mom's sister, to live with them. She is completely bedridden, cannot move her legs or right arm at all and has only a little movement of her left arm. She cannot feed herself, write, change the tv, or do much of anything.

About 4 years ago my Mom's health began to decline. She retired from her job, and her health began to decline faster. My dad has since found himself full time care giver to two virtually immobile women. 6 months ago, mom convinced him to get a puppy. So now he is full time care giver to two invalids and a puppy.

His brother, my uncle, is dying. Mom asked me to come stay with her and my aunt and take care of them and the puppy so he can go to California and see my uncle.

I have been here a week. I don't know how Dad manages it. I'm going crazy. The worst thing is that he hasn't left on his trip yet; I want him to leave, to feel confident with me in charge, but every day there is something more he has to do, something he has to show me. Today it was trying to get me added as a signatory to my aunt's bank account; since she cannot sign her name or write a check anymore, and Mom is her cosigner, Mom thought I should be added in case something happens to Mom. But since neither of them can physically go to the bank and Dad isn't on the account, the bank wouldn't add me. We spent 2 hours there and nothing came of it.

He's not planning to leave tomorrow either; he says maybe Saturday. Something about needing to get my aunt a new bed, and wanting to go back to the bank with POA paperwork to try again.

Moreover, my mom is in far worse condition than I knew. She's good at hiding how bad she is, and she fools herself into thinking she's in better shape than she is.

She lives in the recliner. She sleeps there, eats there, only gets up to go to the bathroom, which is a major ordeal. She has pressure sores on her buttocks from the chair, open wounds in her anal area. She won't shower because she's afraid of falling and because the whole process of showering is exhausting for her. However she smells bad, has open wounds in her head where she's scratched it open because it itches, and has flaky dead skin all over her. She's a diabetic, and there is an insulin shot he gives her after she eats, and another that she gives herself whenever she thinks she needs it. Two days ago she gave herself too much and her blood sugar dropped to 30. Today she didn't give herself enough and it was up to 250. For the one after she eats I'm making her test her blood so I know how much to give her, but she doesn't like that, says Dad guesses based on how many carbs she had, and will tell me to "just give me 11 units," but when I make her test her sugar she only needs 8. She insists on having the tv on and the volume turned up all the way 24 hours a day. She sleeps with it on, and complained bitterly when I asked her to turn it down so I could sleep. I don't think she really sleeps; I don't see how she could there in the chair with the light on and the TV blaring. Meanwhile during the day she's not really awake; she sleeps through the TV.

The doctor wants her to exercise, but she won't. The doctor gave her an exercise video about a year ago; chair exercises for the elderly and people with limited mobility. It still has its cellophane wrapper on. The doctor told her to get up and walk around the house some every day. She's going to start "tomorrow." Tomorrow never comes. The furthest she goes is to the bathroom.

The puppy is a good dog; very smart and decently well behaved for an 8 month old puppy, but he's large, excited, playful, and constantly testing his limits.

I don't know how long they want me to be here. I don't know when Dad is actually going to leave on his trip. I came last Friday because he told me he was planning to leave that day. I figure he'll be gone at least 2 weeks.

I recently lost my job; which is why I can do this; but it's much harder than I expected. I haven't been able to look for work this week because I've been so busy with everything here. This is the first chance I've had to sit in front of the computer for any length of time. I'm a law student, and classes begin again on the 13th and I'm worried Dad won't be back by then. I'll be worried leaving Mom alone while I'm in class for 4-5 hours at a time, and I can't study here with the TV blaring. I miss my husband, who is coming on the weekends, but staying at our own house through the week.

The worst part is that Dad hasn't left yet and I don't know when he's going to leave or when he's going to be back. I don't know if he's worried I can't handle it or if all these excuses are really the reason, or some combination.

The best part of the day since I've been here has been when I take the puppy for a walk; I can get outside in the piece and quiet for a bit.

How does Dad manage, all day, every day, constantly? How can I fill his shoes?

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While it's wonderful of you to cover for your father, he should respect that you need to start your class on the 13th. Is there any way to make him commit to trip dates? I don't see why for an absence of a couple weeks suddenly you need to be on bank accounts and he must buy a new bed at this time....things could be arranged to be okay for while he's gone without all that. Ultimately just like the post above mine suggests, there are other sources of help and respite that would be good for your father to explore when he gets back from his trip. You could try calling your local Area Agency on Aging tomorrow and see what they could do short term while you are there, but sometimes these things take a little time to set up. Still you could start that ball rolling so more help could be in place later. And an active dog in the middle of all that! Just wow.
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try to see if any or all can qualify for medicaid and should that go thru, you can apply for in home health services. if that doesn't work, your mom or aunt's insurance should cover a nurse to come out to the house. some insurances allow full home healthcare (the doctors, nurses, PT/OTs and even x-ray equipment) if deemed medically necessary as the case may be for your aunt.

the pressure sores (ulcers) are a worry. if they aren't addressed in the early stages they may need surgical treatment and i'm not exaggerating, could cause fatal complications but not until there's a lot of pain and much more care than you can imagine.

talk to your mom's and aunt's primary care physicians and make them give you referrals and authorizations for the special care they both need and deserve. you and your dad shouldn't have to do what professional providers should be doing (and covered by insurance).

good luck.
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