My parents are both in their early 70’s. They have taken all kinds of meds for 30 or more years, for different ailments including anxiety and depression. Dad is becoming increasingly more and more agitated, while mom says “everything is fine!” She has been saying this though, for 30 years. They won’t tell me about meds or Dr. appointments. I’ve tried numerous times to talk to them, but it’s none of my business. I’m concerned they may be over medicated, and/ or the meds are affecting their mental state. I really do try to respect their wishes, but I think it may be time for an intervention of some sort. I’m just not sure where to go or what to do from here. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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I'm in my early seventies. I take 26 pills per day (under a doctor's supervision). I have a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder (2 of my pills are for that), which started many years ago. I have Metabolic Syndrome (which includes diabetes). And in spite of all that I took excellent care of my husband while he had dementia.

I'm glad for my children's interest in my life. I'm happy to go to lunch with one of them occasionally. I like it when they sometimes invite me to join them at a concert. I don't mind talking to them about my health, but I think the topic bores all of us. But an intervention??! Why should my children get to intervene in my life? Exactly what do you have in mind? You'd find some other people to gang up on me and insist I tell you more than my sense of privacy wants to reveal? And then what? Decide that you know better than my doctors what pills I should be taking or what medical professionals I should see?

Is your dad increasingly anxious, or was he more anxious on one encounter? Was that by phone or in person? Mom's been saying "everything is fine" for 30 years. What is your evidence that this isn't true?

Some people are extremely private. Some people wouldn't mind taking out a billboard to share all the details of their lives with the general public. Your parents are entitled to fit on this spectrum wherever they are comfortable.

Instead of "intervening," visit and call them more often. If you are worried about them, see them monthly and call them weekly. Get to know by observation how they seem to be doing. Do little things to brighten their lives. Enjoy the present.
Helpful Answer (20)

Mariposa (Butterfly),
"My parents are both in their early 70’s."
Come on now, early 70's isn't "old". My mother, at 95, is OLD.

"They have taken all kinds of meds for 30 or more years, for different ailments including anxiety and depression."
If they've taken meds for 30 years then they are pretty well suited to them, right? I don't see a problem here.

"Dad is becoming increasingly more and more agitated, while mom says “everything is fine!”"
It's not uncommon to be more agitated later in life. They may not be staring death in the face but they can't hide that there are changes from when they were young. I've noticed that I'm a bit more anxious (I'm 61) than in previous years. Maybe he's anxious because you keep asking about their personal life.

"She has been saying this though, for 30 years."
So it's something that she doesn't think is a big deal OR she's in denial. Either way, SHE hasn't freaked out so she sounds like she's handling it.

"They won’t tell me about meds or Dr. appointments. I’ve tried numerous times to talk to them, but it’s none of my business."
It sounds like YOU are TOO worried about things. Take the cue and don't have it be your business. If they are still of sound mind (no dementia) there's not a darn thing you can do to get them to include you in their medical business.

"I’m concerned they may be over medicated, and/ or the meds are affecting their mental state."
WHY do you think that? Are they showing signs of dementia or are out of control with their emotions? Are they sleeping a lot? Are they way more forgetful? Have they made very poor decisions? Why do you think they may be overmedicated?

"I really do try to respect their wishes,"
Then, unless they would be harmful to themselves or someone else, back off. They probably resent your intrusion.

"it may be time for an intervention"
To interveine on WHAT? UNLESS you can prove they are UNFIT and UNABLE to make proper choices for themselves AND have any proof of severely deteriorating health, you don't have a leg to stand on.

"I’m just not sure where to go or what to do from here."
Back off and let them handle their affairs. You'll KNOW when it's time to intervene. In the mean time, look up dementia and inform yourself so you'll know the signs. Because your Dad, who is already a nervous person, is seemingly more nervous, maybe his medication just needs to be adjusted. HE can ask his doctor to work that out for him. You don't need to do that.

"Any advice would be greatly appreciated!"
That's it in a nutshell. UNTIL they can no longer make informed decisions, this is NOT your game. Sorry.
Helpful Answer (12)

Mariposa2479, I am in my 70's, too, and have a line up of pill bottles. I even fell in my office parking lot and broke my arm. Thank goodness no one thought it was time for me to go to Assisted Living :)

My parents were in their 90's before it was time that they needed an extra pair of hands. They were also very private people. Then and only then did I learn that decades earlier that my Dad had cancer, had surgery, etc.... that I learned that my Mom had bladder cancer, slow growing.... that my Mom had macular degeneration thus was legally blind.... that Dad was a fall risk. And here I lived literally around the corner, and spent Sunday's at their house for dinner.

So, try not to over imagine that your parents are now ill. That in itself could drive you crazy. Just wait until your Mom or Dad calls you to tell you about a medical emergency, which could be a decade from now. Put trust in your parent's doctors that the doctors know what they are doing, and put trust in your parents that they are adult enough to know if the prescription meds are having side effects.
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Thank you all so much! You have given me so much to think about! There is more to this situation with my parents (gambling addiction, a couple of stays in the state hospital - all many years ago), but you are all right, especially you SueC1957.

I called my mother's sister, and she said she and my mom's 2 other siblings have been slightly concerned about mom and dad for a few months now. But, is it time to get more involved? Probably not. Our family plan for now is to stay in touch with one another, and keep each other informed.

Am I a worrisome daughter? Yes, I suppose I am. I just want what is best for mom and dad. They have overcome so much, and I really do want these years to be happy ones for them.

Thank you all again for your candidness and heart-felt replies! It means a lot to me!
Helpful Answer (11)

Hi Mariposa
You mention that your father seems more agitated but otherwise it sounds like things are the same. When was the last time you saw your parents?
Do you have other relatives living near your parents that you could check in with?
Perhaps it’s time for a trip home to have some walks and talks with mom and dad and satisfy yourself that things are fine or not.
Helpful Answer (10)

Hi 97mom,
Thank you for your reply. I see my parents every 3-4 months. I last saw them in March. There are no relatives around them, I have no siblings, and I’m careful about talking to their close friends because they get upset if they think I’m “snooping.” My parents are extremely private people anyway.

My husband and I have both tried talking to them. I’ve even told them I would like to go to Dr. visits with them, but they won’t tell me when appointments are. They won’t tell me what medications they take. I feel as if I have to wait for something tragic to happen before I can get involved.
Helpful Answer (7)

I’m not sure this will make you feel any better but my mom didn’t need help until she was 90. My dad at about 82. The help they needed was someone to take them to appointments that were several hours away. Their minds were great.
The help they needed in their final years was mostly physical. It did escalate in their final years but it sounds like you may be borrowing trouble at this point.
Let’s say your dad is actually ill. He has his wife and good friends nearby. I believe you when you say you are noticing a change in your dad but a nervous daughter might not be what would make him better.
I also think this is a sweet spot in life with our parents. When they are in their 70s so I encourage you to spend more time with them.
One last suggestion. Pick up the book “Being Mortal: Medicine and what matters in the end” by Atul Gawande. You read it and maybe get dad a copy for Fathers Day. It might help you both.
Helpful Answer (7)

Sometimes it's hard for the 'kids' -- now in their own 50s and 60s -- to have parents whose lives are, indeed, declining (as they do, starting in the 70s or 80s for almost all of us), and also to have friends and coworkers telling all the tales of dementia and catastrophes. Some of my younger friends (in their 50s) imagine that 'everyone' at 70 is 'halfway to gaga.'

Then I ask them how old they think I am ... and it turns out they've never noticed that I'm 71 and still working.

I second the recommendation for the 'Being Mortal' book. The biggest thing to be aware of is: They really ARE getting older, and that really DOES mean that some skills and abilities are, or will be, declining. I'm still working and enjoying life a lot, but I gave up skiing a few years ago and I no longer do math in my head. The last time some nice young man asked if he could put my suitcase on the rack for me, I let him -- and it was a smaller suitcase than the last time I did it for myself.

You can't keep them 'stable', though you may be able to slow the progression. IF, and only if, something is actually 'wrong.' If all that's happening is really 'normal aging', or if there's some cognitive decline and they've already been checked for vitamin deficiencies and UTI's, etc ... then ...

Well, then the worst thing you can do is act 'intrusively demanding' about their private info. That will only make them lose confidence in the things they CAN still do for themselves, as well as causing resentment between you.

Old age ain't for sissies, but it's the only game in town. We really need to let our parents play it the way they want to ... and we really want our kids to let us play ours, too.
Helpful Answer (6)

I am an only child too. My parents moved four doors down from me when they were in their mid to late 60s. By the age of 70 they were doing nothing but sitting in the house all day, pretty much waiting to die.  There were issues of anxiety and depression. They started drinking all day, arguing, falls, etc. Now, 10 years later, dad has been moved into assisted living, mom still lives in the house drinking, abusing prescription anti-anxiety drugs, falling, etc. Having them down the street from me has been a dark cloud over my head for the past decade and there is no end in sight. It's been a horror show that has affected my view of my family and my history, my mental and physical health, my work-life and my marriage. I wish I had kept a distance from my parents. I had no idea what they had become during the years since I moved out on my own. Just a cautionary tale. My parents were college educated, small-business owners, very responsible people, money in the bank, etc. They totally blew their retirement and have just about taken me down with them. Proceed with caution if you don't know a lot about your parents' day-to-day lives and behavior.
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That's probably exactly what you need to do. I know how nerve wracking that will be for you. I'm sorry out have to wait it out when all you want to do is make sure they're safe. Maybe someone else might have a better idea. Hang in there Mariposa, you're not the only one in this situation.

I had to wait until my Mom got so sick that she couldn't protest my taking her to live with me. It's not fair to those of us with stubborn parents. We're here for you.
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