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My mom (74) with dementia tends to soil the fingers with feces while defecating. Today, l noticed she had spread it below the left eye, the smear looking like a scratch, and the fingers were stained, too. And this incident turned out to be from yesterday, of which my father said he wasn’t aware at all.


Of all the chores, my father (77), who lives with mom, does only some simple cooking and the dishes for both. The rest is covered by my siblings and me.


I have asked my father a couple of times to try to be a bit more attentive when mother goes to the bathroom, in order not to let her insert fingers in feces - they use a squatting toilet. And, also, that he should from time to time check out her hands & fingers, just in case.


While l know that he cannot be after mom each and every second, l was wondering if my request that he try to be a bit more vigilant when mom is in the bathroom, and immediately notify one of us if she soils herself, is reasonable or not?


(On a side note, l should say that father is obsessed about watching TV - the news and other political talk shows almost around the clock.)


Thanks.

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Tony, these past 7 weeks, how many times/week have you gone to your parents' place? And what is it that you do now when you go there?

How often do your brothers see your parents? Do they ever go and clean up your mother? Does anyone clean her other than you?
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Tony11 Apr 20, 2021
Following the argument with father on the 20th of Feb, I didn't visit them until 15th of March. Since then I have been visiting them once a week, me staying 3 to 6 hours there. I basically cook lunch for them and wash the dishes afterward, and clean mom when/if she goes to the bathroom, as well as entertain mom by taking pics and showing them to her, and chatting together. (I have also changed the sheets once or twice.)

My brothers see them more often than me - at least, on the balcony - because they live in the same building. The thing is that they do no chores, such as cleaning the house, cooking, washing the dishes, washing the clothes in the washing machine, or help mom in the bathroom.
On the other hand, I should also add that the middle brother from time to time buys the groceries for them, while the oldest brother gives a ride to father when he occasionally has a dentist appointment. (I don't have a car for the time being.)

As I have pointed out in an earlier post, the older SIL started getting a bit (more) involved by changing the sheets, washing the clothes, and sort of quickly cleaning the house, but not the bathroom!
She somehow alternates with the younger SIL to shower mom, but other than me nobody else has cleaned mom.
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I feel the vibe here that Father is not up for a full-time caregiver role. So, as Mother's needs increase - the big question is: who will be?

Will family move in? Or the folks move.. somewhere?

Often each family has some longer term planners & some live in the moment people. Together, using everyone's input plus a big dose of your parent's values, hopefully a good plan for the future will emerge.
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Tony11 Apr 20, 2021
"I feel the vibe here that Father is not up for a full-time caregiver role. So, as Mother's needs increase - the big question is: who will be?"

This is the huge problem! Father considers mother a burden because she interferes with his routine. On the other hand, us - his children - expecting him to be a full-time caregiver would be unreasonable, too.

As things have progressed, I think my father is greatly responsible for his situation in never voicing his predicament to my older brothers.

For example, we were all gathered to celebrate a birthday a few days ago, and in passing my oldest brother commented that our parents are under the best circumstances. Father was right close to him and just kept his mouth shut.
I felt like contradicting my brother by pointing out that parents would be like that only if we were perfectly organized and fully committed to their overall well-being but I decided to say nothing either, since father is also supposed to stand up for himself and his wife!

My middle brother, while not making such unrealistic comments, prefers to raise no issues. As a result, I have also stopped asking my brothers (and SILs) for any service altogether, letting father manage their situation the way he wants to, but without allowing him to drag me into the old ways.
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You can ask, but ask in ways that may make more sense to him. Maybe say, "When mom goes to the bathroom, would you go with her. If she soils her fingers, please call us to take care of her." That might get more positive response.

If dad can't be bothered, his inattentiveness could be the first signs of dementia or other health issues. If that is his pattern, please get him evaluated by his doctor. Many doctors will make referrals for indepth evaluations if the problems could be dementia (neurologist) or mental health (geriatric psychiatrist).
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Tony11 Apr 20, 2021
Thanks for the feedback.
"You can ask, but ask in ways that may make more sense to him. Maybe say, "When mom goes to the bathroom, would you go with her. If she soils her fingers, please call us to take care of her." That might get more positive response."

I have asked him just the way you're saying. Because I also know that he's not perfectly fit, physically speaking, especially when it comes to the mobility of legs. That's why he also says " I'm not a 15-year old boy." In this regard, I've told him that some movement and being a bit active around the house do him good. (Two years ago, father lived with my middle brother's family for some time. He was doing nothing, except for watching TV around the clock, which took a toll on him - he put on weight in an unhealthy way.)

I think he's at a point when he doesn't care anymore, in not bothering to call one of us in, once mom makes such a mess in the bathroom, or somewhere else.

It seems that the only solace for him seems to be this addiction to watching TV, which is also an indication of depression, I know. However, mentally speaking, he is very agile in being extremely curious of everything happening around him, and remembering all kinds of details related to past or present.
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Some men simply don't have the stomach for the task. No one could take more loving care of my mother than my dad did, but he couldn't do that. I got to deal with it, along with showering her, but I was only there once a week. It was bad.

I've seen a long-handled wiping tool at CVS (drugstore) that might be a bit more tolerable for your dad if was willing to use it.
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Tony11 Apr 19, 2021
Thanks for the considerate input. I know it’s tough for everyone, and it’ll get tougher.
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OP did say in his post from February that aides in his Country do not do "clean up". Something to do with the culture. So thats what he is dealing with, a culture that has not gotten into the 21st century. They seem to still be in a century where family takes care of family. That the women in the family, whether daughters or DILs, are expected to take care of the elderly. And that NHs are not the best place to be. Seems not much help from the Country either.

So Tony, I see you just constantly banging ur head against the wall. Here in the US we have options if we can't take care of our elderly.
It looks like Dad is not going to help Mom and don't think u can change that. You and brothers do what you can. As time goes on your mother will need more and more help. She needs someone there to toilet her. Its time for diapers at least. Then maybe SILs can check on her every so often. Maybe learn her schedule if you know what I mean. Really sorry you are dealing with this.
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Tony11 Apr 19, 2021
Thanks the sympathy offered. When we tried to put diapers on mom about 2 years ago, she found it discomforting/annoying and removed it. My sister was on visit from out of town two days ago and suggested that we try diapers again. The oldest SIL told her - l wasn’t there - that it wasn’t necessary because they clean mom regularly, which is a sheer lie - my SILs have only showered mom, once a week or so, but never cleaned/wiped mom when she needed to defecate/urinate. My sister didn’t believe the SIL’s lie but hadn’t made any comment on it either.
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I read your previous post and the replies (https://www.agingcare.com/questions/should-i-distance-myself-from-the-parents-for-1-month-and-let-my-father-manage-things-465284.htm).

What is YOUR plan if things continue as they are? Will you eventually quit your job to move in and become your parents' 24/7/365 caregiver? You stated back in February that you were going to look for a caregiver. What happened with that search? If caregiving is looked down upon in your Balkan country and caregivers are so hard to find, then what happens with the elders? Do they end up living with family members? Are there facilities?

How much financial help did your parents give your brothers over the years?

Why do you think it's your responsibility to fund a caregiver?

As far as SILs bathing your mother, I agree with other posters that it shouldn't be their responsibility. And Idon't agree with your excuses for your brothers not doing chores. This reminds me of when people excuse their sibs from doing any caregiving or even visiting elderly parents because it's so difficult for the sibs to see the parents like they are now, that it's a bunch of nonsense. NO ONE finds that easy.

Since you are the only one doing anything, that is what your sibs expect to continue to happen. And what they are not telling you right now is that as your mother's needs increase, YOU will be expected to step up and fill the void. They do not care how your are affected. Expect much mission creep.

Are you going to accept this?

If not, then plan and start executing your exit strategy now. Rather than try to get your sibs to do more (futile exercise), plan for how YOU are going to do LESS.
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Tony11 Apr 19, 2021
Thanks for the feedback.

"What happened with that search?"
I haven't found one yet. I mean, I contacted one agency to check if they could help with a female caregiver and how everything goes, but the other family members aren't ready to hire one yet.

" If caregiving is looked down upon in your Balkan country and caregivers are so hard to find, then what happens with the elders? Do they end up living with family members? Are there facilities?"
The elders end up living either with family members or alone. Some would consider going to a nursing home a disgrace and wouldn't do that.

"How much financial help did your parents give your brothers over the years?"
Well, I'm not sure about the exact amount, but he was always there for them helping them in many ways, financially, as well.

"Why do you think it's your responsibility to fund a caregiver?"
I don't think it's my sole responsibility to fund a caregiver - I have never thought or said that. But, since my brothers (and their wives) are unwilling to share the costs, what would/should happen then? Leave mom go from bad to worse?
On the other hand, I should add that over the last weeks, mom has been showered by SILs regularly. The real problem now is checking on mom when she goes to the bathroom, in order to not let her get soiled.

"And I don't agree with your excuses for your brothers not doing chores." I wasn't excusing them. I just said they weren't willing to do what used to be considered women's stuff.

"Rather than try to get your sibs to do more (futile exercise), plan for how YOU are going to do LESS."
Over the last 7 weeks I have done less also because I have spent less time there. Since then, I haven't asked brothers & SILs to do anything related to my parents. The older SIL started getting more involved.
On the other hand, I have noticed that my father wants me to go back to the old ways. Well, yesterday, when I saw mother soiled, I did change the sheets and wiped her all over the best way I could. The previous times -- over these last 7 weeks -- I have basically just cooked lunch for them and washed the dishes afterward.
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I just don’t get the comment ‘I’m not a 15 year old boy’. Very few 15 year old boys are doing this (particularly for their wives). And they aren’t looking at moving into AL, either. It makes even less sense than the 'women's work' line. Is he saying that he doesn’t like being told what to do? Do any of us? Can you develop a fault in his TV reception? That might get him moving!
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Tony11 Apr 19, 2021
"Is he saying that he doesn’t like being told what to do? Do any of us? Can you develop a fault in his TV reception? That might get him moving!"

Yes, that's father's approach. He doesn't like being told - nicely or any other way!
What is worse, father has 2 TVs - one in the living room and the other in the bedroom. I could do that but he would ask my oldest brother to get the TV going again.
The problem is that my older brothers aren't firm when it comes to dad's role in this matter.
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Dad watching the TV all day may speak volumes: to tune out. Apathy is his present coping skill I suppose.

I'm guessing (like others) that Dad does not see Mom's toileting issues are part of his caregiving duties. Makes me actually question: Does he even see himself as her caregiver? Hmm.

If you ask Dad some blunt questions, what are his answers?

Does he realise Dementia is progressive? That Mom needs a caregiver now? That her needs will increase?

Is he going to be her carergiver?

If so, will he will clean Mom up now that she cannot do it?

Once spelled out, it may be he starts to see clearer & steps up...? Or, it may be the TV gets turned up as he waits for other non-him people to step in.
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Tony11 Apr 19, 2021
Thanks for the feedback. I should say that father has never been a solution-oriented person. And my mother's situation now is no exception to him either. He always expects others to provide solutions when problems arise...
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It's completely reasonable...and completely understandable that he doesn't WANT toilet duty. I don't--do you?

My DH would have me in a NH in 20 minutes if I became bowel incontinent. He can't even stand to see me throw up---he joins in!

Your dad MUST be able to smell this, or is he playing 'dumb'?

If he cannot care for mom, and I get that men of that generation may not have been raised to be the quality CG's we'd like them to be--mom needs in home aides or to be moved to a LTC facility.

If mom is spreading fecal matter all over herself, then she is also getting it on the walls, doorknobs, light switches--a HUGE cleanup job when a small one is all that is required.

As far as the TV--put a small TV in the bathroom so he doesn't have to miss a minute of FoxNews.

ANd-your mom can't wear gloves, but dad can! I've had to do a LOT of yucky CG for DH and I ALWAYS gloved up. The barrier is mental and physical.
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Tony11 Apr 19, 2021
Thanks for the input. Your saying "If mom is spreading fecal matter all over herself, then she is also getting it on the walls, doorknobs, light switches--a HUGE cleanup job when a small one is all that is required." makes so much sense. And this very message I conveyed to my father yesterday, but he didn't seem to understand/agree to this reasoning.
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Yes it’s totally reasonable to ask your 77 year old father to do a small clean-up for your mother. Does he say that it’s not reasonable? He's probably saying that he doesn't want to do it - who would?. You need to present him with the alternatives. He does it, or someone else needs to do it.

'Someone else' might mean an expensive in-home 24/7 team of paid carers, or moving to the appropriate AL level, with or without him. If mother goes without him, father needs to be able to care for himself alone. Could he do that? Would he find that ‘reasonable’? It might come to AL for both of them anyway, but it’s an immediate issue right now if father won’t be part of a solution. Working through this might be a useful way to tackle the issue.

I’d say don’t go for the gloves. Not only does it need mother having the ability to cope with it, the gloves are quite likely to end up flushed down the toilet and blocking the plumbing, which could be a huge hassle all round.

Sympathy and best wishes, Margaret
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pamzimmrrt Apr 18, 2021
I agree, he probably just dosen't want to it!
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It sounds like dad is not all "there" any longer. And no longer able to provide the toileting supervision that mom deserves and needs for her safety.

It is time to start looking into a higher level of care for them.
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Tony11 Apr 19, 2021
Thanks for the response. Yes, he just likes sitting in front of TV, and when I say he should be a bit more watchful of mom in the bathroom, he usually responds uttering he's not a 15-year old boy. Yesterday, I told him that some movement would do him good, as well.
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Hey its a messy job and I hated it. I prayed that she wouldn't have a BM everyday to give me a break. I cut out her coffee and apple juice because both did a job on her.

Your father needs to be there when she goes. HE needs to clean her up. Huggies are great. Big and thick. If he cannot properly take care of her then maybe she needs LTC or an AL. Medicaid allows for splitting of assets. Her portion being spent down for her care and then Medicaid applied for. He can remain in the home, have a car, and get enough of their monthly income to live.

I know you don't want to do this but Mom will get worse. He is going to need to watch her like a toddler.
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Tony11 Apr 19, 2021
Thanks for the feedback. You're right - we're asking father to feed mom a bit less because she tends to unconsciously eat more than needed.

We don't live in the US, so Medicaid isn't an option.
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The only suggestion I have that has helped us is a glove. I’m unsure if this will benefit your mom and if she is capable of remembering to put it on or even your dad having her put a throwaway vinyl glove on when using the bathroom? Have a box of them next to the toilet and attempt to get her to put one on when wiping? Maybe your dad can start helping her with just this aspect when she goes to the bathroom and make sure she has one on when she goes in? And if he can check on her to remove it and then wash hands - I know how hard it is to get under the fingernails etc so my only thought is if u could somehow start to get her to wear a glove - protecting her hands and nails from a more difficult cleaning after - then wash hands?
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Tony11 Apr 18, 2021
Thanks for the input. Mom wouldn’t remember to wear the glove(s). Nor can she clean/wipe herself anymore.

When l’m there, l clean mom. Father doesn’t. At least, l would like him to try to be a bit more vigilant, so as to not let mom put fingers in feaces.
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