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My parents (76 year-old dad and 70 year-old mom) are adjusting to aging in very different ways. My dad has a positive "be in the now" outlook, and that partially goes back to being diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment in 2020. His score has been more or less the same the last three years, and he has some speech and writing issues. But otherwise, he's fully able and leading a very active and socially engaged life. My mom is struggling with depression and anxiety, which have been chronic ailments for her that she never really treated until recently. My sister and I (we're 32 and 35 respectively) practically begged her to try therapy, and we finally got her hooked up with a therapist whom she connected with. We did this because we were concerned for her health, but also for more logistical reasons too.



Two of the most damaging manifestations of my mom's depression and anxiety are indecisiveness and focusing too much on the negatives in life. And this is holding her back from playing an active role in planning for the future. She and my dad still live in a house that's not suitable for aging. It's way bigger than what they need, it requires physical upkeep, and it has lots of stairs. My mom knows this and is anxious about it, but then she finds reasons to shoot down every possible place they could move to. My dad doesn't want to force the move, so they've been at a stalemate for the last three years. Similarly, my dad has been trying to show my mom how to manage the household finances, in the event that his MCI progresses in the years to come. And she won't commit to learning how to handle them. I would actually be game to step up and offer to learn them, but my mom would be upset if I did that because she'd see it as a reflection of her failure to step up. So it's a looming issue.



My sister and I are increasingly worried and frustrated by all of this. We want to help our parents prepare for the road ahead, and while we've at least had conversations establishing POA, health care proxies, and end-of-life wishes, these near-term pragmatic steps are important too, and we're at our wits end trying to help our parents get on the same page about them. We've had a strong relationship as a family, but this is testing us like nothing before. If the problem were solely the What If of my dad's MCI condition, I would be a less worried about the prospect of potential caregiving further down the road. (I'd still be worried to some degree, of course.) But the double whammy of having one parent with cognitive issues and another with chronic depression, anxiety, and indecisiveness is already burning me out, emotionally. I don't know if there's anything more I can do at this point other than continuing to implore my mom to stick with therapy or to urge my parents to talk with a therapist together. But my sister and I feel like we're watching a trainwreck in slow motion. Because if our parents don't move to a more suitable house or condo while they're fully able and if they can't get on the same page about planning for MCI contingencies, it will not only impact their lives in a significant and negative way, but my sister's life and mine as well.

I have NO idea why this posted twice. We have been experiencing computer problems so maybe I'd better not post until I think they are resolved! Moderators: please delete one of these, if possible.
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Reply to ElizabethAR37
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As an old-old person here, I can see both sides of this dilemma, perhaps a bit more clearly than I could have 10+ years ago. It's REALLY difficult to walk the line between what we (my spouse, 94 Y/O, and I, 87) can still do independently when we do not know how much longer we will live or how long we will retain what remains of our abilities.

So far we are living on our own in a single-story home that is part of a "55+" manufactured housing community. Our current living situation is exponentially less expensive than any type of care facility in our area would be. It has not been necessary to draw down our retirement funds to live here. That would change if/when we have to move.

We've needed minimal outside help to date but realize that could change in a hot second. All our legal paperwork is in order, and our youngest son (62) has been willing to help us on the occasions when we've needed it. We have a hired housecleaner every two weeks and seasonal yard maintenance assistance.

So. . . should we move to an ALF now before we need additional assistance and thus start depleting our finite financial resources? This is likely a MAJOR issue for many middle-income elders! Or should we wait until we need care? My husband has some short term memory issues but is basically functional with no major decline in the past year. He no longer drives; I drive locally during the daytime only. I have experienced increased physical pain and limitations in the past year due to spinal deterioration and osteoarthritis, but I can still do most light housekeeping tasks, grocery shopping and errands. We are "managing". So far. . .

What to do is NOT an easy question--for anyone, old parents or adult children.
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Reply to ElizabethAR37
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As an old-old person here, I can see both sides of this dilemma, perhaps a bit more clearly than I could have 10+ years ago. It's REALLY difficult to walk the line between what we (my spouse, 94 Y/O) and I (87) can still do independently when we do not know how much longer we will live or how long we will retain what remains of our abilities.

So far we are living on our own in a single-story home that is part of a "55+" manufactured housing community. Our current living situation is exponentially less expensive than any type of care facility in our area would be. It has not been necessary to draw down our retirement funds to live here. That would change if/when we have to move.

We've needed minimal outside help to date but realize that could change in a hot second. All our legal paperwork is in order, and our youngest son (62) has been willing to help us on the occasions when we've needed it. We have a hired housecleaner every two weeks and seasonal yard maintenance assistance.

So. . . should we move to an ALF now before we need additional assistance and thus start depleting our finite financial resources? This is likely a MAJOR issue for many elders! Or should we wait until we need care? My husband has some short term memory issues but is basically functional with no major decline in the past year. He no longer drives; I drive locally during the daytime only. I have experienced increased physical pain and limitations in the past year due to spinal deterioration and osteoarthritis, but I can still do most light housekeeping tasks, grocery shopping and errands. We are "managing". So far. . .

What to do is NOT an easy question--for anyone, old parents or adult children.
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Reply to ElizabethAR37
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Your sister is correct.

Been there, done that.

Everyone gave in to my mother in her refusal to even consider moving. Daddy tried and then he died. My brother and I tried and then my brother died. At that point I was without any assistance so I left her in her home until she had to come live with me. It's been 7 years and counting.

Why so many aging parents refuse to deal with the inevitable is beyond me. It makes it all so difficult on the family. They prefer to dig in their heels and sit there until a crisis demands action. At that point, someone else has to step in and their choices are limited. Makes no sense.

My advice is to do now what is best, even though you may have to pull your mother along.

Peace
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Reply to southiebella
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If dad is willing and capable let him make the decisions. Sounds like he would be willing to make you both health surrogates and now is the time to get the Elder care attorney to help get papers in order.If bills need paying get them set up on auto pay and if anything else needs to be paid do it online.We used to grab the mail when we arrived toss the junk mail and pay what bills there were...and they never even knew.The house is it payed for free and clear? They may need to stay with the high cost of rents.
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Reply to Bubba12345
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heinrich57: Prayers sent. Your father needs to get all legal documents in place.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Depression and anxiety are actually very common in older adults. So glad your mom is willing to see a therapist. She may benefit from medications as well. Please help her make an appointment with her primary health care provider to address the issues you have written about. Her provider may make a referral to a psychiatrist - preferably one that specializes in geriatrics.

Ask her doctor to test her annually for mental competency. When she is deemed no longer mentally competent, then the person(s) with POAs for her will need to step in to help make decisions. As long as mom is mentally competent, you can not make decisions for her. Whoever has POA for dad can make decisions for him when the doctor deems him mentally incompetent.

As for the "delays in decision-making," help your parents to get an appointment for those legal documents with a lawyer near them - preferably one that specializes in elder law or family law. Get those POAs, wills, family trust... all taken care of during the appointment. With family and friends, work together to make sure that they can live safely and healthily in the home they have until they are (willing and) ready to move.
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Reply to Taarna
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Since your father recognizes his own condition, that is enough to warrant POA, health care proxies, etc.. There should be no delay on that. As far as the household finances, he needs to be showing someone, or outlining on paper everything someone would need if and when he is not able to take care of it. I am not sure what financial matters he takes care of, but it makes since for whatever needs to be done to be simplified now. Autopay for bills. If they have accounts, CDs or such at more than one bank, merge into one place. Any simplification can help.
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Reply to Learn2Cope
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You are watching a train wreck in slo-mo. You will be sitting by and watching and waiting. There is not much to be done if they don't choose to do anything. You will eventually have a health crisis to deal with and that will force the hand.

I would advise to make sure they have their legal documents in place if nothing else is to be done.

I was in your shoes. My parents never had a plan. It took my having a temper tantrum and threatening to leave and telling them they could go rot in their house by themselves to get my mother to finally get the house under a revocable trust so we didn't need to deal with probate and put the POAs in place.

My mother also had depression and anxiety as long as I can remember. Like your mother she chose to do nothing about it. It is hard to deal with a person who has this, they live life not making any decisions.

I wasn't able to do anything about my parents' situation until things got really bad.
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Reply to Hothouseflower
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"My dad doesn't want to force the move, so they've been at a stalemate for the last three years."

Just like with hoarders the reasonable person is the one who caves and gives in to the unreasonable person. Why is that? It's been 3 years it's time for dad to step up and tell his wife that it's time for them to make arrangements to age in place. Case closed. Wife had 3 years her way and not dad gets to have it his way.

It's a shame that dad won't get to relax and enjoy living in a downsized space before he dies if your mother has her way.
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Reply to sp196902
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Okay one step at a time:
this is what I did with my Daddy - He had ALZ.
I started paying bills online - he didn't see it so he didn't miss it. Her anxiety may be curbed if you can show her that the bills are taken care of all she needs to do is record it.
One step at a time. Then may be some items can be donated to someone that can use a particular item. As some may see - donating items is not the same as giving an item to someone that NEEDS it - it sometime easier to see it that way. I have a friend who has a hard time letting go of some things too - and has anxiety of making appointments - not waiting til the last minute to do something. It may take some time to get them use to the idea but you can at least try it. Blessings
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Reply to Ohwow323
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You are doing great, except for your own anxiety. Try to relax, but keep nudging. At least you have your dad's cooperation. At 70 your mom is maybe not quite ready to face the downsizing. It will come as your dad becomes less able and needs more help. What about pointing out some places where they could live, still independent, but without so many household chores? Then let them think
on it. It might become really clear that they need a smaller place and
will have the visual of it in their minds to get the ball rolling. I agree that you should take over the finances now and have that already figured out when more issues arise. Explain to her that it is necessary. I hope the therapy helps your mom, but depression issues tend to be ongoing without end. It's exhausting, so try to not get roped into it with her, as you seem to be totally aware is a possibility.
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Reply to ArtistDaughter
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Oh boy I do feel for you. Same boat here, except my Dad has passed and I was able to get my mom into a smaller, one level home, and take over her finances. Other than that, she is massively depressed and refuses to take meds. She refuses to move again, but refuses in home care and/or me helping her by cooking and cleaning. Stubborn stubborn and stubborn. You can't help someone who won't help themselves, sadly. I agree that this forum has helped me realize something drastic has to happen before she can/will change her mindset. In the meantime, behind the scenes, I have already interviewed and picked the home care agency I will employ when needed. Good luck.
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Reply to Wolfpack
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You sound like you are doing everything you can at this point. The POA, and your boundaries are all you can do at this point. You are right to decide to never take your parents in to live with you. Even though you are a close family, it can easily tear you apart… speaking from experience. Good thing you and your sister are in this together… my sister lives a plane ride away and can’t help much. It IS extremely frustrating to parent your parents. And it’s not your job. Again, something I learned. They have been on this earth twice as long as you, held down a job, kept a home and raised children. Ailments aside, why are the children responsible for their parents poor decision making??
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Reply to JustShootMe
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I feel your pain. I also have parents who are stuck in the same rut. I have spent hundreds of hours of time researching the options for their future care and they refuse to budge. I am a burned out caregiver and the advice from this group was to step back and let mom and dad figure it out on their own. Unfortunately, it will take some thing drastic for them to be forced to make some decisions.

As for establishing POA, health care proxies, and end-of-life wishes, that should probably be taken care of ASAP. It’s very easy to get this done with a local estate planning attorney.

Best of everything for you and your parents. It’s going to be okay. They are understandably afraid to leave the comfort of their home at this time. I’m glad they have such great support from you and your sister.
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Reply to Kimbasimba
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Lexapro could help. As for someone who is a daughter of a mother who is suffering from both depression, anxiety and dementia. It takes so much patience to be their caretaker. Your mom may have to be placed in a personal care home. I would send her to a Neurologist also. I am sorry, but there is no turning back
It is like watching a train wreck.
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Reply to Onlychild2024
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Gotta say, from where I sit, you are actually in pretty good shape. You are very lucky you and your sister are on the same page, have the paperwork in place, and got your mom to go to therapist. Plus your dad’s MCI sounds pretty manageable at this point.

Any Chance you could get mom on Lexapro or anything like that to help her anxiety and depression?

My dad passed two months ago, 5 years after diagnosis with dementia. My mom has significant anxiety issues, can’t/wont learn anything about paying bills, caring for the house, hiring help, and has some physical issues and has not seen a PCP or other Dr in 30+ years. she also focuses on the negative and all possible negative outcomes and is very indecisive. And catastrophizes. She keeps firing aides and says they are useless.

Plus my only sibling lives thousands of miles away and calls her maybe once per month and visits 1-2 times per year.

i did get them in a house with no stairs near mine. Only because she couldn’t deal with his crazy dementia behaviors.
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Reply to Suzy23
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Dad I would worry about first. If he has not assigned one of you POA, he needs to while he can. Tell him without you having it, you will have no control what happens to him. The State could take over his care at some point. And don't do you have Financial and the other has Medical. We have at least two posts going on where the Medical POA does not understand their duties and Financial POA is trying to push their duties onto them. If Sis and you can work together well, then share the responsibility. An elder lawyer can advise you.

Mom, my husband has a cousin who has always been decisive. Its nerve wracking, they cannot make a decision. I don't know how she held a job down or how she has dealt pretty well with being a widow. So, never take you Mom into your homes. 24/7 of that kind of personality and depression on top of that, will drive you crazy.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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heinrich57 Jul 8, 2024
Thank you for weighing in here. I should have been clearer. We have legally established POA with both of our parents. My sister and I will share the role. And I appreciate the underscoring of not living under the same roof as my mom as she ages. I decided years ago that I will never allow that to happen to myself, and I will also urge my sister to establish that boundary too.
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I totally agree with the advice from Daughterof1930.

You, your sibling and your Dad need to stop hoping your Mom will magically start to be someone she isn't, and has never been.

"we've at least had conversations establishing POA, health care proxies, and end-of-life wishes..."

I take this to mean no actual documents have been created and legally finalized. If correct, this needs to happen asap. Even if your Mom won't do it. You might want to consider a family "PoA" party, where you and your sister demontrate that you 2 are also willing to create these documents. Then maybe she'll be more open to it. Also, explain to her what happens when someone falls apart but has no legal and personally chosen advocate: the court assigns you a 3rd party guardian. This is a fact. But also totally avoidable. All you and your sister can do is warn her.

I can tell by what and how your wrote that you and sister are in "T-minus" mode, ready to launch and orbit around your parents. Please resist doing this. Have boundaries. Make sure you keep yourselves and your own immediate families the priority. Please read the plethora of posts on Burned Out adult children who didn't mentally and emotionally process caregiving in a realistic and healthy way. Stop yourselves from reacting emotionally and making decisions based on emotions. It won't be helpful -- ever.

Please do read some other's posts on this forum so you don't have to go through some very exhausting (and sometimes permanently damaging) stuff.
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Reply to Geaton777
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heinrich57 Jul 8, 2024
Thanks for your advice. I should have been clearer. We have established POA in a full-on legal sense. That part is taken care of, thankfully.

We are in T-minus mode to some degree. That said, I'm more mindful of boundaries with our parents than my sister, who spends more time with our parents in general. In our conversations, I'm encouraging my sister to start thinking about what her boundaries are, with regard to helping our parents out as they get older and struggle with aging. I will do what I reasonably can to support them, and when/if the demand exceeds my emotional, logistical, and fiscal bandwidth, I will point them toward additional support resources.
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Get Dad settled first, then Mom will follow. Tell them to get their ducks in a row, or the State will do it for them. Make it clear you both are not going to be future caregivers, quit your jobs, or jeopordize your own retirement incomes. You both have your own end of life plans to arrange, to not burden anyone.

Find a good Elder Care lawyer to take Dad to, and pay close attention to what is advised. So many here have stubborn parents who did not plan their final decisions. That includes downsizing their home and getting their Advance Directives, Trusts and Wills done.

Mom needs to realize how lucky she is that neither of them have dangerous illness (cancer, heart disease, stroke) hanging over them. Best to get the details decided and enjoy the rest of their lives.

Mom needs to keep in mind the time she is wasting with her "indecision/anxiety" is time she will never get back. Help Dad start the ball rolling, then she will likely follow. Get it done, then enjoy their remaining lives without worry.
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Reply to Dawn88
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heinrich57 Jul 8, 2024
Thank you for responding. I'm intrigued by the prospect of an Elder Care lawyer being able to assist with downsizing-related challenges. We spoke with a lawyer to establish advance directives and wills, but this is definitely something I'll be looking into, with regard to my parents' current stalemate on when/where to move.
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Your post reads like the anxiety and depression are long term issues for your mom, if that’s true it’s unlikely those are going to change soon, or maybe at all. What is true is that your dad’s situation will worsen with time. In your shoes, I’d try to persuade him to get all needed legal documents in place by taking him to an elder care attorney while he still has legal capacity to responsibly complete the information. Hopefully mom will go along and sign POA documents for herself, but if not, you’ll at least have his, plus a will and advanced directive completed. If they won’t move to a more suitable home, time and events will change that one day. It’s no fun to wait on that, but it will come, so don’t make it your focus. Decide now not to move in with them or move them in to your home. Read this forum a bit and you’ll soon see what a disaster that often turns into despite the best of intentions. In your shoes, I’d go ahead and take over the finances, by passing mom learning it. She’s unlikely to ever do this if she hasn’t shown the inclination by now and dad will lose the ability in time. It may be a gift to them both to have this off their list of things to do. I did his for my dad and presented him a literal 3 ring binder spelling out monthly all bills, income, and how and when things were paid. He was very proud of that binder and how he could see it was all handled and accounted for. If you sit and wait for action, that’s an option, but one that will endlessly frustrate you, sometimes doing one thing will start the ball rolling toward cooperation. It sounds like maybe leaving mom out a bit might help dad move along more easily
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heinrich57 Jul 8, 2024
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