How to handle outings with 92 year old mother with limited mobility and respiratory issues?


My 92 year old mother is in assisted living. She has congestive heart failure and is on oxygen 24/7. She needs a walker for mobility and can walk only extremely short distances because she says she is worn out. She has become more and more reluctant to leave her apartment for meals and activities. She prefers to live on sweets an orders them in for herself. I try to get her out for lunch or other outings, but it is becoming more and more difficult. Being a small person, I have a very difficult time getting her into my car, buckled up in a seat belt, and oxygen and purses arranged. She complains of discomfort when she is trying to get into the car. Her shoulders are so arthritic that she needs very careful assistance in putting her coat on. When she goes to a restaurant, she must go to the bathroom 2 to 3 times during the meal. I need to go with her to the bathroom, over her objection, because she always goes in the wrong direction. She has also had instances in which she has locked herself in bathroom stalls. Fortunately, I have been able to work the locks for her so far. People are not always very nice about making room for her to get by. I suggested that she have a scooter, but she objects. I know that outside stimulation is good for her. However, I am beginning to think it is becoming too difficult for her. I took her out to a nice place for brunch today and paid valets triple what I would normally because of all they went through to get her walker, oxygen, gear and body into the car comfortably. I am beginning to think they will not want us to return.

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Do any of the taxi companies in your city have wheelchair accessible cabs? Or is there an Handi Dart Service? It may be easier to pay for a vehicle that can take a wheel chair and take her out in a Wheel Chair. That way you do not need to 'manage' all the gear.

It will not solve the needing to use the toilet, but will help with part of the problem.

Does your mother enjoy the outings, or are they getting to be too much for her? If it is too much, can you arrange to dine in with her at her AL?
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Tothill

You think it is important for her to get out, but what does she think? Sometimes we push things on our parents because we want to include them in a world they no longer are interested in and it doesn't please anyone. She's 92 years old, unless she is asking to go out I would allow her to skip these arduous excursions.
When you do go out a transport wheelchair is a good idea and hiring wheelchair transportation is even better. If she is going to the bathroom so often it might be because she is afraid of having an accident, making sure she wears an incontinence brief when going out might allow her to cut back on that problem, also you should choose places that have single handicapped/family bathrooms available.
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Reply to cwillie

I have the same reaction as cwillie. Let Mom stay put unless the event is something she really wants to attend. Over time my mother has just stopped finding pleasure in these outings, even the ones she enjoyed fully for a long time. It's just too difficult and complicated with her mobility issues now. We want our parents to have a fuller life and not give up the things they most enjoyed, but it may not look the same from their perspective.
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Reply to CarlaCB

Thank you all for your responses. She told me that she wants to get out, but it seems that it has become too much for her. She was angry when I wouldn’t take her to my nephew’s wedding in another part of the State, but she ended up again in the ER the next weekend. All of you confirmed what I have been thinking. She was happy when I went to church with her in the AL. Going out in the garden with her when the weather is better may be better. Thank you all!
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Reply to TwoWorlds

My mother lived with my sister for 14 months. It became harder and harder for Sis to convince Mom to even go to her hair appointment, which she had formerly considered essential. She didn't want to go out to eat. She didn't want to go to appointments.

When Mom's health failed further she went to a nursing home. She was absolutely thrilled that she could resume her weekly hair appointments -- without even getting a coat on, let alone the ordeal of getting into a car. The hairdresser came to her room and wheeled her to the beauty parlor. And a couple times a month the NH brought in fast-food for those who wanted their french fry fix without leaving the building. They also had outings to restaurants, but my mother did not want to participate in that. She loved bingo and the live entertainment available right in her building.

So it wasn't really that Mom no longer liked the experiences of outings ... she just didn't want to have to go out for them! The only NH outing she went on was the monthly trip to Walmart, in a van she could be wheeled into without getting out of her chair. (Getting in and out of transportation is a bigger deal than many realize.)

The only time in 2 1/2 years that family took her out of the NH was to her sister's 100th birthday celebration. We hired a medi van for that occasion.

TwoWorlds, for your 92-yo mother, I'd drop the outings altogether, unless she mentions wanting to do something in particular. I think maybe I'd try getting her out of her apartment a little more. Maybe have lunch with her in the dining room. Attend some activity with her. Walk her around the inside of the building in her wheelchair, looking at pictures and plants, etc. In good weather, walk her in her wheelchair outside, if she agrees to that. Give her a little change of scenery once in a while, but also respect her desire to stay where she is. Once in a while bring in a favorite meal -- White Castles, Chinese take-out, pizza, whatever. Or a favorite home-cooked meal if you are up to it. Bring a nice tablecloth. And, of course, a nice dessert.

I think Carla is right that things might be seen from a different perspective as we age, and as we have infirmities. Maybe if you are 60 and you have to drag an oxygen tank around you still want to be active and do "normal" activities. Maybe at 90 the activities don't seem worth dragging the oxygen tank around for. Maybe "normal" becomes home-sweet-home.

(My birthday is tomorrow and I've been thinking about how different I feel about some things at 73 than I did at 63. I imagine by 93 the changes will be greater still.)
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Reply to jeannegibbs

Ask yourself why you're doing this.

For nutrition? One meal isn't going to make a difference. Can her meals be brought to her room for an extra charge? Is it time for a wheelchair, and assistance given getting her to the DR? Is it time for a NH?
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

I used to take Mom for outings, and she was in the same shape as your mom. Congestive heart failure, 24/7 oxygen, much preferred to eat things she shouldn't, plus she was incontinent of both urine and bowel as time went on. (Nursing home had her on FOUR Senna tabs a day and gave them to her before we went on an all-day outing. I'll let you guess how that went.)

It's possible, but like others here, I would ask yourself why you're doing this. Does Mom want to go out, or is this because you feel she should go out? My mom would claim she wanted to go somewhere, so I'd get up early, get myself together, make sure the NH knew the night before that I was picking her up in the morning to take her out so she'd be ready, etc - and I'd arrive only to find Mom laying in bed, sound asleep, having changed her mind at the last minute. This happened repeatedly over the last year of her life, but I never stopped trying to get her out and about - if she said she wanted to go, I made the effort, even if she changed her mind at the last minute. I knew that at least I had done my part, even if it was frustrating to have to change my schedule to accommodate her wishes, only to have to change it again when she changed her mind.

I guess I'd base my decisions on how your mom feels. Is this something she's really wanting to do, or are you having to push her to get out and about?
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Reply to AnonymousMember

I'm not sure what is to be accomplished, considering her challenges. If she's not into going out, why aren't her requests honored? Is there some reason she's doing anything but, exactly what makes her comfortable and content? Most of the healthcare professionals that I have dealt with regarding my LO's care stress quality over quantity and at age 92, I'd discuss things with her doctor if you're concerned. If she's a fall risk, I'd explore how to keep her safe, but, taking so many risks going on excursions.....I don't know about that.  It would also seem quite stressful for her. 
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Reply to Sunnygirl1

MOM needs a wheelchair. At the AL and nursing home they take the legs off and they scoot around.
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Reply to JoAnn29

I know my limitations with mom when I am alone and when a family member can come along to assist. Our outings ard now limited to going to the doctors or visiting a frienc for only an hour. It sounds that with the toileting issue she is being taken out too long and her dignity is being compormised. Why does it have to be a restaurant? Can you just take her out for a drive and maybe a brief removal from a car to a scenic spot? If she is not using a wheelchair, see if her AL has a spare for the outing.
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Reply to MACinCT

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