If you have 2 aging parents, are you finding one parent is making poor decisions that is dragging down the other parent?

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My Mom would rule the roost and she did an excellent job maintaining a budget, watch their spending, kept the house nice and did all the cooking. As my parents aged into their 90's, Mom was still the head of the household and Dad would go along with her decisions because of past performances.


As Mom aged, I didn't realize that behind the scenes that she was having memory issues, and not making the best of decisions.... such as not allowing my Dad to use his rolling walker inside the house, it was in the way. Mom wouldn't use a walker, so she depended on furniture/wall walking inside the house.


I recently found that both my parents were reusing their Depends/Poise, guess this goes back to the Great Depression and getting your money out of each and every item, not wasting anything.


With food I recently realized she was sharing frozen dinners, such as Stouffer Stuffed Peppers [two per box], Dad would get one pepper and she would get the other one. One day I noticed lunch was an omelet but it looked like Mom used only one egg for the both of them. No wonder the both of them were losing weight.


Couple years ago I gave my parents a brochure on a very nice retirement community. Dad liked it but Mom refused to even preview. Why move, they were doing fine in their large home. They were still able to go outside and rake 20 lawn bags of leaves.


I even tried to hire caregivers to give Mom a break from all the household chores, she refused. Same with getting in a cleaning crew, to which she was insulted that her house needed cleaning... oh dear, I was just trying to help.


Fast forward and Mom is now in long term care after a serious fall... if only she would have used a walker or had moved some place more user friendly.... Dad has the caregivers back, he's gaining weight, and is improving on many levels.


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Oh I know what 2 against one is like. My parents have done this for the last 10 years as I think back. I give up.
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Awww....FF, my heart goes out to you.....so very tough to deal w/stubborn elders who are in denial.....can't say I've had to deal w2 elders (Dad passed suddenly at 72) but oh-so-clever-stubborn Mom has sure been a trip and a half. After 2 years of hellacious crises/emergencies/falls/broken bones/surgeries/rehab/pneumonia/cdiff/uti's, etc. She is now (94 next month) so happy and healthy in a beautiful ALF I found (thru the Alz org) that no doubt, when I' m ready for ALF, we 2 shall be roommates!
Seriously, her Dr. quite gleefully told my brother and I last week that Mom's vitals are not just in the "normal" range but "absolutely exceptional" plus she has the best O2 sat rates in the entire facility, etc.....me: happy for Mom, pretty sanguine since she's still such a huge fall risk. My brother: practically apoptoleptic (sorry...sp?)....we share Health Care POA and, no, he doesn't want Mom gone but he's a finance guy, has financial POA...constantly worrying: will she outlive her money....if it weren't such a sad, tragic circumstance, it would have been rather hilarious.....Mom, w/now moderate dementia, of course, has absolutely no idea.....
I will share this story of my BFF (for a long, long time....roommates in college). FYI, a woman widowed at 42 YO w/2 young (12 and 14) boys to raise as a suddenly single mother. Her parents ( like mine) retired to FL in their 60's. A few years ago, her Mom (88) calls her in a panic. Dad (90) who has ALZ now wanders, gets lost, Mom can no longer control or keep track of him....is burned out trying to....needs help. BFF calls only sibling (sis living in Hawaii) for help....long story short, as BFF tells it, great Earth Mother sister is too busy saving the entire world from whatever to take the time to help save parents (read that as " stoned on the beach 24/7".....yes...I know both of them). Oh well, how often have we all heard....or experienced that?.....
Sooooo....BFF flies to FL, spends several weeks, finds a great place for Dad (lovely man....2nd father to me) close to their home so Mom can easily visit (Mom's still sharp as a tack...just elderly).....gets Dad settled (he loves it.....thinks he's back in the Summer Camp of his youth). Mom's happy. BFF flies home. Once she lands and is in the airport back home she turns her cell on. Message from Mom. Mom got lonely sooooo......she went and got Dad. Checked him out, cancelled their contract w/the facility and brought him back home to keep her company. Can we all scream now??!!
So, FF, to answer your Q....yep, BFF's Mom (the one of the couple w/out any cognitive impairment) really, really threw a big wrench into things.....sadly, the ultimate resolution to this situation: Mom at 89 dx'd w/ovarian cancer (how hideous is that...passed 1 year later....Dad back in faciility....both now passed.....tho on a final semi-happy note, when I asked BFF if she was able to talk w/her Dad at end (she was there....not her sis...big surprise)....she said no, he didn't really talk anymore at that point BUT he did smile ALL THE TIME.....
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FF, my cousins were at this point making weekly "stop-ins" to deliver groceries and check how things were going. Quite the wake up call as to their dad's mental state. This end of the family has 'denial' as their middle name.

What is amazing to me is that my aunt, post surgery and post 3 month rehab, chose to go back into this situation with my uncle, albeit with 24/7 visiting angels. She predeceased my demented uncle by 2 years.
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My dad called mom the boss too....
Mom covered up for dad for a long time, and then we sort of thought she was just griping... I also had to hire a lawn service.. and mom also fired all the amish gals who came to clean. I know your pain. They also shared frozen dinners... still a problem getting her to eat.
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Babalou, oh good heavens when I read how your uncle would pull your aunt around on a throw rug after she broke her hip. I have visions of him pulling her to the kitchen to make his dinner. Who found her this way? Or was she finally able to get close enough to a phone to call for help?

Jessie and Mincemeat, now my Dad introduces me as "the boss".... [rolling eyes]. Since Dad is unable to even boil water, do laundry, or find the on/off switch for the vacuum, I had to step in.
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FF: Sorry about your mother. My Mom was like yours-stubborn and proud, June Cleaver to the end. She would cover up a lot of things, in fact my parents covered up and validated a lot of things the other one did. Partners in "crime", and admitting they needed help was not an option. My father did not tell us about the many mini strokes my mother had until she was gone. This made me so angry. I think he would have thought it an inconvenience to take her to the emergency room.

I am also glad that your father is improving and open to the in home caregivers! What a blessing his open minded attitude is! Getting to the point where my father is a SNF resident was so very hard. But seeing him healthier and happier than he has been for a couple of years is good.

It is so hard to "deprive" the folks of their home and environment, but it sometimes falls to us to make those hard judgement calls. We all have experienced watching these elders make the poor decisions you have shared with us. And out of respect, it is so difficult to "call them out" on it or get them to understand that their situation has to change. Hang in there and as always thank you for all the great insight you share with us everyday!! :)
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FF, this was the story with my aunt and uncle for many years. He refused to see doctors. My aunt would go to the doctor and share her pills with him. She realized he had dementia, they steadfastly refused to be separated; after my aunt fell and broke her hip AND HE PULLED HER AROUND THE HOUSE FOR THREE DAYS ON A THROW RUG, my aunt had rehab and returned to their home. At that point, they accepted outside caregivers, I think because my cousins finally stood up to them. But yes, an elderly couple in collusion can keep many secrets. Have you read "Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?" by Roz Chast? You'll enjoy it.
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I used to take care of both my parents. It was almost impossible for me to make any decision for them. My father was completely passive and my mother very dominant. Anything I would recommend or want to do would be overridden. It was two against one. What my mother wanted, we did, even when it made no sense. She used to say the decisions were Dad's fault, but all he was doing was sitting there in his own world.

There is a benefit of having two people, though. They are company for each other and buffer the task of caregiving. Even though my father couldn't hear and rarely spoke, he was still company for her. And he gave her some purpose in taking care of him.

ff, it sounds like your father was passive like my dad, only more with it mentally. My father I'm sure had undiagnosed Asperger's that got worse as he aged. When one partner is passive, the other is the one running the show. Despite this, caregivers end up feeling like it is two against one when it comes to decisions.
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