My parents need care but will not accept help. What should I do?

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My 86 year old mother has mild alzhimers (which is getting worse) my 89 year old father is total care, on oxygen 24/7 and cannot do care for himself in any way. He still is of mostly sound mind. My parents live in a 5000 sq foot home and refuse to leave or get help. I am here on a family leave from work (live in another city 2 hours away) and only came because my mother fell and came to help my Dad. When I came, I realized that everything is not okay, Every day there is some sort of problem or mistake. For example. bills not paid and sent to the wrong company, leaving the stove on, can't figure out how to even use the phone sometimes. My mother still has her drivers license (restricted) which is scary, My mother takes multiple medications for Alzhimers, and heart disease. She states that she does not need the medicine but sometimes takes it and sometimes doesnt. I put the meds in daily containers and constantly remind her to take them. I have talked with their friends, their church, their doctor, APS was also called (idk who called them), they spent 5 minutes here and my parents stated they did not need help so the case was closed. I feel that if I left as my mother wishes (my dad wants us to stay, he realizes they need help but is bullied by my mom into having us leave) that it would be unethical, unsafe and I get a knot in my stomach when I think of even consider leaving. No one will help us or they dont have the nerve to tell them (including me) that is is not safe. My doctor whom i spoke to about this suggested that I call APS again and put it into their hands. I feel so scared. I want to be respectful of my parents wishes but I cannot in good conscience leave them. What do most people do in this situation and can and who is available to help me. My time is running out from work leave and I need help!!!! Thanks for any suggestions. Again, my mother is very stubborn and aggitated and absolutely will not accept any help of any kind. I feel as though it would be neglect to leave them alone. Also my parents scream and yell at each other all the time, I grew up in a happy and healthy household, never used to fight. What should I do?????? HELP!!

Answers 1 to 10 of 37
With a few exceptions, I have never had much luck with expecting government agencies to do much of anything. They mostly get in the way, under-react, or overreact. So, like everything else, you will have to find solutions on your own.
I am afraid that tough love is called for here. First, have your parents given you their POAs?...if not, you should do that while you are there. Your father is of sound mind, so speak to him about it immediately. Next, you need to arrange for some in-home care so you can go back home and arrange for more permanent solutions. Get someone to come in at least once a day to both help and monitor their safety and health. They can call you if they find anything alarming.
The house needs to be sold...it is too big, too dangerous, and too much work for them. The assets can be used for their care.
If your mother resists, call in a trusted friend, clergy member, doctor, etc. who can act as a "buffer" as you explain to her why she needs to make this change. Give her limited options that will work for you. (ie: "mother, we either need to do this or that...choose one.")
The sad result of waiting too long is that they will either injure themselves, burn down the house, or neglect themselves until adult services finally comes in and declares them incompetent. That would be the worse scenario!
The one true fact of life is that we can't always get what we want, nor is it always safe to get what we want.
Good luck...let us know how things worked out.
Thank you for answering my question but i dont think any of your suggestions would work, No i dont have POA, they will not discuss it and my mother says we are not dead yet so quit talking bout it and gets very aggressive. My father just goes with what my mother says to keep the peace. My mother will not allow anyone to come in to help her, surprisingly she hasnt kicked me and my husband out yet. I have contacted friends, the church and their MD and nobody seems to want to get involved. I guess because they have been friendly for so many years and want to respect them. Everyone knows this is not safe but nobody wants to upset my mother because of her aggressive nature recently. At church yesterday, she would not allow anyone to help her with things and people were just talking behind her back saying just let her do it, it's easier than arguing. Ugggh, I feel this knot in my stomach tightening, sticking around as long as I can but I have a job - I am even an RN (peds tho) and people are pulling my shifts and working extra for me. I feel so scared. I do appreciate your response to my question, this is becoming an impossible, emotional problem and I just can't figure out a solution.
" they dont have the nerve to tell them (including me) that is is not safe." Does the doctor know the realities of their life at home? Can you get a social worker to come out and do an evaluation? I believe you will have to get the nerve to tell them it is not safe. What does your husband think you should do? I assume you have explained to your mother what could happen if she does not take her meds. Your mother does not sound competent and just might need someone to file for guardianship but that would break your dad's heart. I think the reason she has not kicked you and your husband out is part of her emotional blackmail game. Sort of a "I hate you, but don't leave me" routine. How long have their personalities been so radically different? Your dad probably yells out of self defense and aggravation over his wife acting like she does. Have you talked with the pastor of her church? I don't think that legally you can really do anything, and quitting your job does not sound like a good idea. I had to wait until something really bad took place for my mother to give me POA both durable and medical before I could really get her the help she needed. Her stubbornness meant assisted living would not work and she ended up in the nursing home. My step-dad should be in a nursing home, but my step-brother will not take any action because his dad loves his beer. Good luck. Their are not easy answers in this situation. However, I would speak the truth in love that their situation is not safe.
Thank you for your response, I think you are the first person that actually seems to "get" my situation. Yes my husband and I are on the same page. Their doctor is aware of my concerns but does nothing. I have talked to my father many times and he just says don't worry about us, we will get by and whatever happens, happens. Well I dont think I can live with that, what if I leave and 2 weeks later something really bad happens, how will i live with myself. I have talked with the pastor and many people at the church and with many of their long time friends and everyone basically says well good luck in a nice way, feel like they all understand but are at a loss too. I sometimes think the best solution would be to contact the DMV and report my mother for unsafe driving and call APS to report the situation but part of me feels like that is underhanded and disrespectful but I know that there has to be something done and I can't hold my job off much longer. Whew, thanks for listening, but I feel like you cmgnum do understand and I thank you for that. I guess until you go thru something like this you can't really get it, ya know. Thanks again!!
Top Answer
As I talk to friends often the biggest frustration is that we can see the train coming but the elderly refuse to make the proactive decisions to avoid the collision. Having a nurse for a daughter doesn't change that situation. In fact it may make it harder because we know that this is going to end badly. It sounds like it will take a sentinel event to spur action. Unfortunately that will be a fall or a car accident, possibly someeone getting "lost". What you should definitely do is contact DMV and report the need for a driving eval. That I believe you are ethically bound to do because of the potential harm to someone else. In the meantime I would call eveyday. Ask neighbors or church support to watch without letting your parents know you asked or that they are being "watched". You cannot legally force your parents to make good decisions, any more than we can force our almost adult kids. Sometimes those we love make poor decisions, dangerous decisions and then we have to decide how we pick up the pieces. It makes me a little crazy. Be careful, the journey you are beginning as caregiver is a difficult one.
Thank you all for your support. I do agree I will be calling/writing the DMV because if something happened to someone else, how could I live with that. Maybe your right it may be harder being a nurse because I am trained to watch out for the bad stuff. Again, I want to thank everyone for your support, it is so great to have someone who understands my situation and can bounce ideas off of. If you dont have this problem it is difficult to understand all the dynamics of the choices, etc. Thanks and all suggestions appreciated!!
ssmiles63,
Be it parents, grown children, friends who are married or single, etc., the most painful experience is when we have shared our best advice and we end up watching them self-destruct. When anyone has done their best and done all they can legally do, then that is how you live with yourself, otherwise you drive yourself crazy by somehow taking on someone else's choice as if you made their choice which is taking on far too much personal responsibility. You are in a tough place, but there are somethings we can change as well as some we can't and then there is the need for wisdom to know the difference. I have seen various kinds of self-destruction and non of it is easy, but I tried to do what I could except I could not make their decision. I use to over react emotionally to every needy situation that I saw and that about drove me insane for given how I was raised it was easy for me that somehow it was all my fault that these people or person self-destructed.
I hug you for having a kind heart and searching for answers instead of choosing the denial route. With that said keep in mind your doing what is right for them and with this attitude you will gain strength, I can tell by your words here your a fighter. This is a battle in which it takes a great toll on your emotions so stay focused and strong for all of you.
The main thing I see in order to do anything is with Mom's meds. With what you explained her mental stability is a major part of the obsticles you need to deal with. Understanding the meds and her condition is key for you. These meds are only effective if taken as prescribed and very important to be taken as routine same time everyday, if missed or overtaken will make the mental state worsen. Some meds are fatal if taken at the same time as another. Highblood pressure and aricept cannot be taken together(same time of day). Therefore someone needs to be monitoring the meds carefully. Mom cannot be trusted to take them in such a manor. You have options to control this possibly. Is your Dad well enough mentally to see this thru and without Mom fighting with him? Or a neighbor or friend of thiers to do it? At least for now to get her straight so you can resolve other issues. You really need to get DPOA to handle finacial and medical affairs. Talking to your Mom on a reality level will be difficult so you have to do whatever it takes to get her to sign. You can have papers prepared to your needs and go to notary with someone she trusts to sign. Instead of making it seem like shes giving up control you can tell her shes gaining control. There are better times of the day that the mood is better. Try not to argue with her(I know it's hard) and do not let her see anything that she may respond to negatively, let her believe she is in control. She is fighting you because her world is confusing and all she's got left is a feeling of independence. Music is a fantastic way to create a happy mood. One step at a time is best approach for you. The car issue can be easily solved if you disconnect battery or get set of fake keys and switch them to her key ring. You simply have to do whats best and in this situation you have to do whatever works. I told a friend of mine that it was not safe for her inlaws to drive. Her and husband didn't think it was a problem until they got lost one day far away, all 4 tires blown out and scared had no idea what was going on. Thank god noone was hurt. good luck
Start going with them to their doctors and keep hammering home your concerns. I suggest that you get your dad's doctor in on the situation. You may want to slip the doctors a note giving them a better picture of what is actually happening. Many elders show one face to the doctor and another one elsewhere. If she is not able to adequately care for your dad, his doctor can order an assessment via medicare of the home situation, to "monitor his blood pressure." Talk to your mother and tell her, in many gentle ways and words, that unless she/they accept some care outside agencies will take control. Then contact a home care agency and arrange for someone to come in and bathe him once or twice a week. That person just comes for a brief time, and does one set of things (stuff for your dad) so this will not be as threatening. After they get used to the person comingin, talk to them about someone coming in and doing something else, also small. This is trying a gradual approach to get them used to having people do thigs for them. We, the cregivers, tend to want to swoop in and fix all things. Think baby steps.

Good luck
ssmiles, In 2005 while visiting my Mother and her husband, I opened the refrigerator and found all sorts of things I had bought the month before in various stages of mold. There was dog hair on the grill of the refrigerator and the dog had been gone for over 5 years. The housecleaning service was charging them a fortune for emptying the trash cans and wet mopping the tile. Mother was arguing with Onstar every time she got in the car. I refused to drive with her husband at night, and would not let my daughter, then a teenager, go with him either. Everything was a fight and the visits became ruined because they would not face reality. I contacted my sister--oh well. I contacted the husband's three adult children--they were afraid of him. HA!
Guess who had to organize the "intervention" and call Home Instead?
Who had to hire an attorney to protect my Mother from the step-kids after he died? Who found her a care home, manages her trust, and who had to finally bring her into our house?
You just have to take charge and as nice as you are, still might not be liked. Well, I can remember restricting my children when they were small, not letting them do certain things. It's called role reversal. You have heard about it, now it's here.
All the Best to YOU, and good to see you interacting and giving us feedback!
Great advice from my favorites friends, too:)) Hugs, Christina

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